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Delusions deluxe

March 6th, 2007

While Australia has punched a little below its weight in terms of the number of climate change delusionists we have produced, we’re at world’s best practice as far as loopiness as concerned. Our leading delusionist group is the Lavoisier Institute which has, among other things

* Used the work of (now-deceased) astrologer Theodor Landscheidtas the basis for criticism of the IPCC
* Compared the Kyoto Protocol to the attempted Japanese invasion of Australia in 1942(1)

The Lavoiser team got together at Parliament House in Canberra to launch a book by rightwing eminence grise Ray Evans called “Nine Facts about Climate Change”.

As I’ve said before, I don’t plan to bother refuting this stuff any more, but taavi does garbage pickup. I particularly liked the perpetual motion machine in Fact 2.

1. Of course, the official rightwing line now claims that the invasion threat was itself a myth cooked up by notorious appeaser John Curtin.

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  1. observa
    March 6th, 2007 at 19:46 | #1

    Like you John I am gobsmacked by some of the global warming delusionists. Chief among these are the members of the ALP that govern my state at present. As you would be aware, on behalf of all these GW delusionists, Premier Mike Rann has only recently signed SA up to reducing our GG emissions down to 40% of 1990 levels (boasting we are one of only 3 jurisdictions in the world to do so) Hallelujah for the planet!

    Front page of today’s Advertiser headline reads- ’2 NEW POWER PLANTS TO EASE STRESS’ and continues-
    “Two new power stations worth $870 mill are being planned for SA in a move that could ease strain on the state’s electricity network.
    Corporate firms Babcock and Brown and NP Power will this month apply to the Development assessment Commission to build a 450MW gas fired peaking power station at Redbanks near Mallala.
    The project estimated to cost $350 mill has been endorsed by the State Govt as a “public infrastructure development” under section 49 of the Development Act.
    A separate 560MW power station valued at $520 milloion, has been foreshadowed as part of Altona Resources $3.9 billion proposal to produce petroleum and gas in the state’s Far North.
    If approved, the new power stations would be among the state’s 5 biggest generators.”

    What I don’t understand is why some inconsequential think tank delusionists are the focus of Professor John Quiggin, when he has real delusionists actually running governments to tackle. Care to explain that to us John? Would that be anything to do with where your bread is liberally buttered professor?

  2. observa
    March 6th, 2007 at 20:15 | #2

    For the record here’s your typical, leftist, GW delusionist Rann presaging his wankathon legislation last year http://www.climatechange.sa.gov.au/PDFs/News%20Releases/legislation.pdf
    Notice the red undies and cape as Premier and Minister for 1. Economic Development 2. Social Inclusion 3. Arts 4. Sustainability and Climate Change
    With all that responsibility he can’t claim those nasty GG emitting power stations got under his guardianship of the planet now can he?

  3. jquiggin
    March 6th, 2007 at 20:23 | #3

    Just to reply to your silly innuendo, observa, my bread is not “liberally buttered” by the Rann government or by the Labor party in any way. As others have said, your obsession with Rann, in combination with the lack of anything beyond the lamest pointscoring, is getting tiresome.

  4. March 6th, 2007 at 20:43 | #4

    Actually, whether there was an invasion threat or not entirely depends on how sloppily you use language. There was every threat of infiltration and incursions, none whatsoever of an invasion proper. But that is not at all to belittle the very real risk, merely to diagnose it – something which you need to do when talking about countermeasures.

  5. jquiggin
    March 6th, 2007 at 21:07 | #5

    PML, we discussed this at length last time around. In retrospect, there was little likelihood that the Japanese would have wanted a permanent conquest of Australia. On the other hand, their war aims obviously included knocking Australia out of the war, and this would almost certainly have required occupation of parts of Northern Australia (at least), along with large-scale death and destruction. I’d call this an invasion.

  6. melanie
    March 6th, 2007 at 22:07 | #6

    Really who cares whether they planned to invade or not? They were well on the way to creating an arc of control in the Pacific and SE Asia that would have strangled the country unless it joined up to the Co-Prosperity Sphere. Empire does not need to operate through direct government.

  7. observa
    March 6th, 2007 at 22:36 | #7

    As tiresome as you tilting Quixotically at GW denialist windmills John? Any poll shows the punters are now onside with GW arguments, but still you carry on as if somehow they’re not. If the battle to win the punters hearts and minds is now won, then surely an early adopter like yourself, should now be most concerned about big talking, do nothing hypocrites, taking Global Warming’s name in vain. I am certainly not suggesting Mike Rann is alone here in that, but just that he is a rather obvious example of the genre and probably coming to government near you soon. You appear to be blind to such carpetbaggers or otherwise preoocupied with your windmills. Anyway, pardon me for farting as I don’t want to upset any elephants in the room
    http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/03/05/MNG18OFHF21.DTL

  8. March 6th, 2007 at 22:57 | #8

    observa – sure the way to deal with China is to say “well you keep making all this stuff for us and we will continue with our really wasteful lifestyles based on fossil fuels and you can’t have any of it because you are the problem”

    Wouldn’t this be better – “We have cut our energy use by 50% and now use mostly renewables – we would like you to follow this lead”

  9. observa
    March 6th, 2007 at 23:13 | #9

    Apparently Ender it’s more morally uplifting to say to them- ‘Hey we’ve signed up to reduce our emissions by 60%, so how about you lot actually doing it.’ You get to wear the ‘I signed the pledge’ badge at the ribbon cutting at the new power stations too.

  10. March 6th, 2007 at 23:22 | #10

    I think it’s unfair and inappropriate to refer to the Lavoisier group as delusional.

  11. jquiggin
    March 7th, 2007 at 06:16 | #11

    So, JH, do you think the claim that the Kyoto protocol is an evil left wing conspiracy, on a par with the threat of invasion, is a reasonable proposition that I should be engaging on the merits?

  12. jquiggin
    March 7th, 2007 at 06:25 | #12

    Shifting from coal-fired to gas-fired electricity generation (as SA has largely done) will reduce emissions. Obviously, achieving large long-term reductions in emissions will need measures to reduce electricity demand, but observa’s pointscoring is off the mark.

  13. observa
    March 7th, 2007 at 08:04 | #13

    “Shifting from coal-fired to gas-fired electricity generation (as SA has largely done) will reduce emissions.”
    No we haven’t done that at all John. What we have largely been doing is adding additional generating capacity which is gas fired and now proposing even more to satiate ever increasing demand, even allowing for some not immodest, additional wind turbine power.

    At Port Augusta, around 2.5 million tonnes of brown coal, railed 250km from Leigh Creek, is burned in 2 x 260MW steam turbines of the Northern Power Station and 4 x 60MW turbines of the Playford B station, generating up to 40% of SA’s capacity. This is essentially base load power, which you’ll notice the new proposed gas fired plant for Redbanks at Mallala of 450MW is for peaking power. That’s a nice way of saying we’re running out of power, although SA has one of the peakiest demands due to summer airconditioning. About 25% of our generating/transmission capacity is designed for about a month’s use per year. Now the new proposed 560MW power station for the Far North is foreshadowed as part of Altona Resources development to produce petroleum and gas. How on earth can Govts go on doing all this and signing on to the 60% pledge is beyond my comprehension John, but I’m just probably one of those delusional skeptics. What’s the pledge for John? Moral offsets and if so when do we get really serious and introduce it into our primary schools for the kiddies to sign up.

  14. March 7th, 2007 at 09:41 | #14

    JQ: “So, JH, do you think the claim that the Kyoto protocol is an evil left wing conspiracy, on a par with the threat of invasion, is a reasonable proposition that I should be engaging on the merits?”

    I don’t think Kyoto is similar to invasion. My instinct would be to ignore such a comment, but if I was to respond I would say “I don’t think Kyoto is similar to invasion”.

    I think the optional addition of “you blithering idiotic delusional loopy twat” says more about the speaker than the target of their abuse.

  15. smiths
    March 7th, 2007 at 10:01 | #15

    is the warming definately greenhouse gas related?

    is it possible that the effect is observed correctly but the causes arent as clear as being made out,

    is it possible the the suns fluctutaions in activity coud be the driver?

    is east Antarctica getting colder?

    could cosmic rays be involved in cloud formation?

  16. March 7th, 2007 at 10:28 | #16

    JQ — do you have a link for the paper based on the work of Theodor Landscheidt? I checked the link you provided but it was just an open letter by a group of people to the Canadian (then) opposition leader and it didn’t mention astrology.

    Smiths — as best I know it is extremely likely that increasing greenhouse gases (as we are doing) will lead to warming but less certain the exact split between man-made and natural causes of recent changes. We know that the sun is a driver of climate change, but it doesn’t appear to explain the 0.6 degree warming over the past few decades. I believe Antarctic ice is getting thicker, but Arctic ice is melting.

    And my understanding is that cosmic rays are not involved in cloud formation. Instead, changes in solar radiation are responsible for cloud formation which changes the impact of cosmic rays on the earth. The importance of this factor is still being explored.

  17. March 7th, 2007 at 10:29 | #17

    JQ — do you have a link for the paper based on the work of Theodor Landscheidt? I checked the link you provided but it was just an open letter by a group of people to the Canadian (then) opposition leader and it didn’t mention astrology.

    Smiths — as best I know it is likely that increasing greenhouse gases (as we are doing) will lead to warming but less certain the exact split between man-made and natural causes of recent changes. We know that the sun is a driver of climate change, but it doesn’t appear to explain the 0.6 degree warming over the past few decades. I believe Antarctic ice is getting thicker, but Arctic ice is melting.

    And my understanding is that cosmic rays are not involved in cloud formation. Instead, changes in solar radiation are responsible for cloud formation which changes the impact of cosmic rays on the earth. The importance of this factor is still being explored.

  18. March 7th, 2007 at 10:38 | #18

    I’m afraid I have to agree with observa. There is an awful lot of greenwashing happening at the moment and the ALP are the worst offenders. You can’t spend $870M on new fossil-fuelled power stations, and in the same breath commit to reduce GHG emissions to 40% of 1990 levels by 2050. These power stations may well still be operating in 2050, if we haven’t sold all our gas by then. Sure, gas is better than coal but if Rann were serious about his 2050 GHG commitment he’d be investing all of the $870M in renewables (like Flannery’s geothermal plant), tougher renewable energy targets, or maybe (gasp!) tax carbon emissions.

    If he doesn’t do these things its just an empty pledge so he can be seen to be doing something about climate change. I’m sorry, but it is. The Labor Premiers are all doing it — look at Iemma and his desal plant! Rudd is no better with his defence of coal exports.

  19. March 7th, 2007 at 10:47 | #19

    carbonsink – “If he doesn’t do these things its just an empty pledge so he can be seen to be doing something about climate change. I’m sorry, but it is. The Labor Premiers are all doing it — look at Iemma and his desal plant! Rudd is no better with his defence of coal exports.”

    Right now Rudd and the others have to avoid giving the Libs a wedge issue like coal exports and coal use that they can use to drown out all other arguments like they did with the Tasmanian Forests last election.

    When Labor is elected they can raise the MRET which will restart the investment in renewables and allow coal to compete in a market with carbon taxes or cap and trade systems. This way coal use can be decreased without handing Howard three more years on a platter.

  20. March 7th, 2007 at 10:53 | #20

    The Tassie forests policy was only introduced in the last week of the election, and it was introduced by Latham.

    JQ — sorry for the duplication. Please delete one.

  21. March 7th, 2007 at 11:02 | #21

    I completely understand the politcal reasons for Rudd’s defence of coal exports, but try explaining Iemma’s desal plant. All the polls in NSW show that recycling is much more popular than desal.

  22. March 7th, 2007 at 11:21 | #22

    Continuing the theme of greenwashing is this article in the Guardian:
    UK plans to cut CO2 doomed to fail – scientists

    An independent scientific audit of the UK’s climate change policies predicts that the government will fall well below its target of a 30% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 – which means that the country will not reach its 2020 milestone until 2050

    The UK is probably a decade ahead of Australia in terms of policy on climate change and the political environment. Both sides of politics are on side and have been for some time. Everyone agrees something needs to be done, “voluntary” policies have been developed, but very little is being achieved.

    As George Monbiot says, the UK government policy seems to be to write reports and policy about climate change (and thereby appear to be doing something) without actually implementing the policies.

  23. observa
    March 7th, 2007 at 11:23 | #23

    Let me continue with the specific case study of SA because IMO it is an obvious microcosm of the bigger problem. Looking specifically at power generation, here is a summary of the status quo
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_active_power_stations_in_South_Australia
    You might like to browse your own state’s state of play at the bottom. When I quoted Pt Augusta’s coal fired power as 40% of our generation, that looks like a dated statistic. Summarising the total generating capacity (only greater than 1MW generators here remember) there is a total of around 3800 MW with coal fired Pt Augusta making up around 20% of that total. You need to look harder at the generators to pick out the constant base load steam turbine generators. These are Pt Aug 760MW, Torrens Island 1280MW, Pelican Point 158MW and Osborne 60MW, totalling 2258MW or about 60% of the total. Pt Augusta’s burnable dirt then accounts for a third of this base load, which on average steam turbines produce around 85% of the world’s electricity. That probably applies here as well. The gas turbines have mushroomed relatively recently but are largely, quick switch, peak power generators. (Here note that Pelican Point and Osborne use them in conjunction with base load steam turbines to use their surplus heat efficiently.) Because we live in the driest state in the driest continent, hydro is miniscule, but we are leading Aus in wind power (but not yet 1% of the total here)

    Now what you have to bear in mind is, we have as head of State, Mr Pledge (60%reductions to 1990 levels by 2050 remember)Mike Rann the man. John Quiggin’s ideal, evangelical messiah, chanelling Al Gore, Michael Moore or whatever. No need to convert this boy, because he’s one of the early converts out there, leading from the front, spreading the hot gospel himself. Now what you also need to understand is, that on coming to power he inherited the brand spanking new, Pelican Point, 485MW fossil fuel power station, along with some of those little gas turbine ones springing up to cope with our lust for air conditioners. So Mr Pledge can’t claim that he was left with a lack of generating capacity when he took over and had to play catch up with those nasty fossil fuels. Mr Pledge has also pledged that while mining and flogging uranium to many Kyoto signatories, there’s no way he’ll use it to generate power here in SA on his watch. Then in yesterday’s Advertiser, we have a portent of where Mr Pledge is actually going on all this GW thingy, with respect to power generation at least. All I can say to John Quiggin et al is, if these are your political friends, why waste time with the odd political enemy?

  24. Majorajam
    March 7th, 2007 at 11:36 | #24

    observa,

    You make a good point, however, underestimate how critical it remains that denialists not be able to gain a foothold with their pseudo-science and fraud et al. These types may no longer feature in Oz, but I can tell you they remain very significant in the US, and especially so given our polarized media (that the majority of Republicans only expose themselves to right-wing la la land news sources doesn’t help in this regard).

    The bottom line is one of priorities and this is clearly the highest. Without at least establishing the science of global warming and its potentially dire ramifications in the minds of the vast majority world’s citizenry, we are truly powerless to do anything about it.

  25. March 7th, 2007 at 13:15 | #25

    carbonsink – “I completely understand the politcal reasons for Rudd’s defence of coal exports, but try explaining Iemma’s desal plant. All the polls in NSW show that recycling is much more popular than desal.”

    I can’t – we have one too. I guess they have to be seen to be doing something. A grand project like a desal plant is really good for pollies getting re-elected. Recycling is more effective but is hard to trumpet about.

  26. Ken Miles
    March 7th, 2007 at 13:47 | #26

    I think it’s unfair and inappropriate to refer to the Lavoisier group as delusional.

    They are associating themselves with Ray Evans book. That’s pretty delusional.

    The book is on par with the standard delusional creationist claptrap which infests the world.

    Seriously, does anybody here want to endorse the book?

  27. Steve
    March 7th, 2007 at 13:57 | #27

    I agree a good deal with observa’s and carbonsink’s points – i think the environmental movement is rife with support for flawed policies and approaches (such as the hard-on-punters-while-ignoring-the-big-polluters policy of banning incandescent lightbulbs), and this happens because we are so busy arguing against the slimiest end of the AGW debate that we don’t spend enough time challenging the middle, and criticising the proposed solutions offered in the mainstream.

    I think it is hugely worthwhile having some constructive criticism directed at the labor govts, not just the sceptics. so I’m going to argue the govt’s side for you observa:

    On gas-fired generation. It is the perfect transitional fuel, and given that we don’t even have emissions trading yet, i think more gas fired generation is a great thing at the moment, though we can’t just do gas for the next 50 years. I think the gas industry has been fairly weak on promoting their green credentials, and are missing an opportunity. Sure they may predominate as peak generators, but no reason why they cant be base load – except for cost.

    It would be great if the same taxes were applied to coal for power generation as are applied to gas for power generation – gas for power generation is taxed much higher. According to Exxon Mobil, maybe gas would be more competitive as baseload generation if it was taxed the same as coal (see the section titled ‘near term reduction opportunities) (http://cabinet.nsw.gov.au/greenhouse/emissionstrading/__data/assets/pdf_file/598/ExxonMobil.pdf)
    Or emissions trading could make baseload gas competitive.

    On the desal plant.
    The Iemma govt believes that people don’t want to drink recycled water. I disagree strongly that they are right on this. Nevertheless, I can understand the logic. Immediate water supply is clearly a more pressing problem for a State Govt than greenhouse emissions, so they have gone for a desal plant. I can only assume that they are doing this reluctantly, given the bad press they are getting.

    On the plus side, they are going to buy enough Green Power to match the power consumption of the desal. That will be a tangible boost to Green Power generators in the country – SYdney Water says 920,000MWh for a 500ML/day plant – that would double Green Power purchases.

    I think the Iemma govt is open to criticism for wasting taxpayers money, and not choosing the best option, but building a desal plant powered by 100% Green Power is not a reason to question their commitment on climate change.

    THe problem with criticism like Observa’s is that it is so strident it does not acknowledge the trade offs and difficulties with actually implementing a policy. Its a messy, imperfect business. That’s why we need more non-sceptics/delusionists criticising policy, who can provide a measured but still constructive critique.

    I would love to see everyone drinking recycled water and a rigorous emissions trading scheme. But given multitude lobbyists, political pressures, power needs and water needs, i think gas fired generation and 100% Green Power desal plant is not an instant dismissal, even if they are far from perfect solutions.

    Maybe that discussion isn’t happening because of the preoccupation with the slimier ends of the climate discussion as observa says, and a failure to criticise what is on offer from the middle.

  28. O6
    March 7th, 2007 at 14:16 | #28

    Observa may be strident but he’s spot on, IMHO, in his criticism of Mr ‘Also’ Rann’s hypocrisy. In SA, Origin Energy is developing cheaper, better photovoltaics. Why not mandate photovoltaic panels on all new buildings to support local industry, or at least remit some of the local taxes for builders/developers/owners who install them?
    If GW is rea, as seems to be the case, incentives are needed now, not 44 years into the future when Mr Rann may well be dead and will certainly not be clinging to office?

  29. Stephen L
    March 7th, 2007 at 14:27 | #29

    It appears that the Lavoisier Society is disputing not only the IPCC’s report, but the conservation of energy. No, John Humphries, I don’t think that makes them delusional at all. It’s time to go back to calling them denialists.

  30. O6
    March 7th, 2007 at 15:02 | #30

    Actually, Mr Rann’s position is worse than I thought. In the SA strategic plan update
    http://www.saplan.org.au/documents/South_Australia_Strategic_Plan_2007_001.pdf he congratulates himself on a new ‘feed in’ law that allows households to be paid for the electricity they feed into the grid.

  31. Steve
    March 7th, 2007 at 15:12 | #31

    I don’t understand your logic o6. You talk about photovoltaics, and then criticise the ‘feed in’ law. This policy has been pushed strongly by the Australian photovoltaics industry, and is widely regarded by the photovoltaics industry worldwide as the best way to promote the technology (after the huge uptake in photovoltaics in Germany as a result of a feed-in policy).

    Having said that, Rann’s feed-in policy is lousy, because it only pays for net export to the grid. Virtually nobody who puts in a rooftop photovoltaic system will be a net exporter over a billing period, hence hardly anyone will benefit.

  32. jquiggin
    March 7th, 2007 at 15:20 | #32

    I’ve fixed the Landscheidt link.

    I agree that policy so far is longer on grand statements than concrete action. As virtually everyone recognises by now, what’s needed before serious progress can be made is an effective price on carbon and an emissions trading scheme. Various governments, including Rann’s, have been edging towards this line, and it’s time to push them over.

  33. Steve
    March 7th, 2007 at 15:24 | #33

    THe latest on the State’s emissions trading scheme:
    http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/emissions-trading-deadline-at-risk/2007/03/04/1172943276257.html

    Committed to implement it by 2010, but might not make it.

  34. chrisl
    March 7th, 2007 at 16:14 | #34

    It seems to be a case of rhetoric colliding with reality. Reality wins!

  35. March 7th, 2007 at 17:07 | #35

    Steve – “Having said that, Rann’s feed-in policy is lousy, because it only pays for net export to the grid. Virtually nobody who puts in a rooftop photovoltaic system will be a net exporter over a billing period, hence hardly anyone will benefit.”

    That is entirely dependent on the size of the installed system, the climatic conditions and the electricity demand of the household. You cannot say with any degree of confidence that hardly anyone will benefit.

  36. Richard Tol
    March 7th, 2007 at 17:27 | #36

    If one bothers to read the Lavoisier statement of 2000 (!), then they say that Kyoto is a threat to sovereignty (true, see below) and they say that this threat is the most serious one since 1942 (which may be true; I don’t know much about Australia, but you are pretty independent).

    Under Kyoto, given Australian law, Australia grants control of CO2 emissions to an international body, and therewith Australian energy and industrial policy. That is indeed a loss of sovereignty, which should not be suffered lightly.

    By the way, in European law, international environmental treaties can be ignored at will. The EU did not give up any sovereignty by signing Kyoto.

  37. chrisl
    March 7th, 2007 at 17:46 | #37

    Observa : How does Mr Rann propose to reduce emissions by 40% of 1990 levels (which could be 50% of 2007 levels by the sound of it)
    In Victoria we have advertisements showing black balloons as a proxy for Co2 which is a little difficult to capture on film. Can’t say if this is having any effect.
    It would seem that the only way to achieve the reductions is to double the price of energy.

  38. March 7th, 2007 at 18:42 | #38

    JQ, I know we discussed this at length the last time around. I also know that you are repeating the same error of diagnosis. Fundamentally, you feel entitled to use “invasion” sloppily, based on the consequences to Australians, with no regard for actual events and processes. I have been very careful to make clear that infiltration and incursions were serious possibilities; I hope nobody thinks that those are any less serious. Hey, the Byzantine Empire fell to the Turks that way, as did Ireland to the Normans (with a repeat under their heirs and successors).

    You really should not let “invasion” stand, unless you are willing to admit that you are using the term so loosely that it really only has sentimental value and no technical significance at all. Either use some other terminology, or risk devaluing language and crying wolf for when you really need precise tools for understanding. (This is why one shouldn’t call current events in Iraq “civil war”, by the way – that part comes later, just as a civil war came to pass in Ireland and in Angola after the jockeying for position ended with the withdrawal of the occupiers; what will they call that civil war then, if they have already used up the term?)

  39. jquiggin
    March 7th, 2007 at 23:10 | #39

    PML, I’m not sure whether our disagreement is semantic or factual. I say that assuming Australia had been defeated in New Guinea, the Japanese would have pressed on to occupy parts of Northern Australia, using them as a basis for attacks aimed at forcing Australia out of the war, breaking our alliance with Britain and the US, and ensuring the installation of a government compliant with Japanese demands. That doesn’t sound like “infiltration” or “incursion” to me. But if, as you say, the conquest of the Byzantine Empire and of Ireland was achieved without invasion, then maybe our disagreement is semantic and we simpy speak different dialects of English.

    Richard, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m dealing with a troll who has somehow assumed your identity. Line up with the Lavoisier Group, Singer and Seitz if you want, and repeat the bogus talking points of the US right (about Gore for example), but don’t complain when you’re lumped in with these guys.

  40. Richard Tol
    March 8th, 2007 at 01:41 | #40

    John Q: You can group me with whomever you like.

    I think that Lavoisier has a fair point. International environmental treaties have an impact on sovereignty, and that impact should be included in the cost-benefit analysis, as should be the fact that the sovereignty impact is not the same in different legal systems.

    The fact that I think that Lavoisier has a fair point, does not imply that I think that everything that Lavoisier says is fair.

    In a normal conversation, I would not add the previous sentence — but there are people on this blog who need everything spelled out, and then they still do not understand.

  41. March 8th, 2007 at 01:57 | #41

    So Richard… what you’re trying to say is that you agree with everything Lavoisier has ever said and that you also believe in clubbing baby seals, are a KKK anarcho-satanist and participate in human sacrifices?

    I mean … you must be evil. Perhaps possessed? Or maybe just delusional? But fear not — you can be saved. Just accept Kyoto as your lord and saviour. Praise be unto Renewables, peace be upon them.

  42. Richard Tol
    March 8th, 2007 at 06:33 | #42

    John H: Exactly right, but you forgot that I can also have a normal conversation with Tim Curtin.

  43. Majorajam
    March 8th, 2007 at 08:19 | #43

    Only it wasn’t nearly as humorous back before you’d honed your skills.

    Richard, please the court, are there any of David Duke’s teachings you’d like to go on record as supporting? Surely it can’t all be wrong and we mustn’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

  44. wilful
    March 8th, 2007 at 09:33 | #44

    Can we start back at first principles: what is the threat to sovereignty and how is this bad?

    I don’t feel at all represented by my political masters right now. I can’t see how ratifying an international treaty that involved other countries as well as Australia diminishes anything. Australia is party to many many international treaties, I don’t see our sovereignty as threatened one iota.

  45. March 8th, 2007 at 09:42 | #45

    Pr Q says:

    The Lavoiser team got together at Parliament House in Canberra to launch a book by rightwing eminence grise Ray Evans called “Nine Facts about Climate Change�.

    On a more ideological note I think the climate change debate shows the disaster of right-wingers who masquerade as conservatives. The mischief of this identification was demonstrated when right-wing revolutionaries hi-jacked the US conservative movement to promote radical social change in the ME.

    Right-wing ideologues consistently line up with the rich and powerful, the Alpha-males. The latter are hooked into the petrochemical industry, which has always had a reputation for ruthless exploitation. So it is not surprising to see a right-wing eminence grise attached to meterological denialists.

    Conservatives, by contrast, simply want to conserve the good. Whether the good be ecological, geneological or sociological. This is in contrast to “constructivists”, who want to construct the good. And “destructivists” who simply want to raise hell.

    Prince Charles has shown that it is possible to be an ecological and sociological conservative without being terribly right-wing. No wonder the editorial board of the Australian hate him so. Many of our ideological problems would be solved if conservatives started acting as such.

  46. Andrew
    March 8th, 2007 at 14:47 | #46

    So why do denialists still exist?

    There was a really good article on the climate change denialists in the Observer on the weekend. The article was denouncing the ridiculous ‘documentary’ called ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’ that screened recently. But it raised a really vaid point on why denialists still exist – and I think you could probably summarise it by saying saying that the denialists exist to serve as a counterpart to the very left wing grops who see climate change as a tool to achieve social objectives. JQ posted on this a week or so back.

    http://environment.guardian.co.uk/climatechange/story/0,,2026125,00.html#article_continue

    I think the masses are now convinced that GW is real and imminent issue – there is definitely enough sentiment to support government initiatives to curb GG emissions, and even enough broad-based support so that individuals ‘do their bit’. However, the masses are not about to support measures that significantly impact standards of living, and are not going to follow the Bob Browns of world into some form of pre-industrial age communal living.

    SO like in most things in life, when a group of extremists exist – these usually spawn a group of extremists on the other side. Most of us in the middle simply shrug our shoulders and get on with life.

  47. Richard Tol
    March 8th, 2007 at 16:24 | #47

    Andrew: Agreed. You do realise that you just accused John Q and co for being the cause of all denial.

    Wilful: Lavoisier uses the word “threat”, not me. I said “impact”. My understanding of Australian law is that international environmental treaties are binding; if the government signs, it will have to implement the treaty. Therefore, signing a treaty reduces sovereignty, as Australia is less free to do what it wants. The difference between Kyoto and all previous treaties is that Kyoto is about energy, and therefore about everything — and the sovereignty price of this treaty is particularly high.

  48. Andrew
    March 8th, 2007 at 16:50 | #48

    No Richard – I’ll John Q defend himself, but I think his position is pretty central on this one… he’s not one of the hairshirters. I am, however, accusing the left wing extremists for being the cause of denial. Frankly – when people like Bob Brown and Tim Flannery makes silly statements about shutting down the coal industry in three years, it does the environmental cause more harm than good – it just spurs the denialists into action.

  49. snuh
    March 8th, 2007 at 18:36 | #49

    Under Kyoto, given Australian law, Australia grants control of CO2 emissions to an international body, and therewith Australian energy and industrial policy. That is indeed a loss of sovereignty, which should not be suffered lightly.

    By the way, in European law, international environmental treaties can be ignored at will. The EU did not give up any sovereignty by signing Kyoto.

    i would like some support for this claim. to my knowledge, the reverse is true.

    many (i’m not sure how many) european countries are (to varying degrees) monist, which means their legal systems tend not to distinguish between domestic and international legal sources, and treat it all as one big system of law. france, germany and italy are all (to greater or lesser degrees) monist with respect to treaties. this means that in each of these countries, treaties are binding domestically on ratification (there being no need for enabling legislation). indeed in domestic french law, even later inconsistant statutes do not override treaty provisions (which is significant in the context of loss of sovereignty).

    on the other hand, australia (similarly to other common law countries) is dualist. domestic and international law are treated (for the purpose of domestic law) as independent systems of law. for treaties to create legal rights and duties in australian law, the provisions of the treaty need to have been legislated domestically. i.e., australia could ratify kyoto and then refuse to pass legislation to implement it (this would be problematic in international law, but for the purposes of domestic law is perfectly kosher), whereas a monist country could not do this.

    so it is not correct to say that in ratifying kyoto australia would suffer a loss of sovereignty, although that would be a correct statement about several european countries.

    incidentally, although the EU (through the EC) is a party to the kyoto protocol, in addition all countries that were members (at the time the EU joined) are also, individually, parties to Kyoto (so i’m not sure why it would matter what EU law says about international treaties).

  50. Richard Tol
    March 8th, 2007 at 19:12 | #50

    Snuh: Correct.
    However, in the EU, the government is above environmental law, not below. That is, one cannot sue the government for failing to meet its Kyoto targets, because this is not a matter of the courts. Only parliament can force the government to stick to its promises. So, in the EU, meeting Kyoto is a matter of political will, not a matter of law.

    I’ve been told that this is not true in Australia. If a target is law, the only escape route is a new law.

    In the EU, enforcement is an act of parliament, while in Australia, non-enforcement is an act of parliament.

    The signatures of the EU countries on the Kyoto Protocol are aspirational, not binding in domestic law.

  51. Richard Tol
    March 8th, 2007 at 19:16 | #51

    Snuh: Forgot to add: (this is not true in Australia) provided that the international treaty is converted into domestic law

  52. Roger Jones
    March 8th, 2007 at 19:23 | #52

    Richard, tho’ like you, I’m not an expert on international law, I would be surprised. Australia floughts a good deal of protocols/treaties to which it is a party with no apparent (legal) ill effects.

    That said, there has been recent reports that the government has scoped the increases in energy costs which may encourage the reductions required to come in under the Kyoto targets they have not ratified but maintain they will meet. Unconfirmed by the government themselves.

    As an aside – has anyone calculated the range of estimates for Kyoto in $/tonne CO2 with the modern economy (i.e. recent higher energy demand and GDP than has been previously modelled)?

  53. jquiggin
    March 8th, 2007 at 19:33 | #53

    Richard, I’m unclear whether you’re talking about the EU or its member countries. Either way, the impact of Kyoto on Australia sovereignty is trivial compared to that of the EU on its member countries.

    On ths point, there is, as I’m sure you know, a species of Euro”sceptic” (that word again!) who like to make comparisons with World War II, for example this guy who says

    A total loss of sovereignty, our way of life and our laws and customs which have served Britain well for centuries. As I said at the General Election in May 2005, the undemocratic, evil EU is succeeding where the Luftwaffe failed in 1940.

    I had assumed such rhetoric was self-evidently loopy, but you don’t appear to find the same trope problematic in Lavoisier’s case, so I’d be interested in your thoughts on this guy.

    Finally, while I’m not a constitutional lawyer, I think your advice is incorrect in several respects. First, while ratification would give the Commonwealth government power to pass laws that might otherwise fall within the jurisdiction of the states, it doesn’t require the passage of any law. Second, while some legislation would probably be required to do things like create markets for emissions and so on, it would be highly unusual for the government to pass a law requiring itself to ensure particular policy targets were achieved. Third, even if such a law existed, it’s unlikely any litigant would have standing to enforce it.

  54. Jill Rush
    March 8th, 2007 at 20:48 | #54

    The political realities of combating greenhouse gases whilst people maintain their standard of living is problematic. Observa is not prepared to give Mike Rann any credit for trying to provide practical solutions which don’t just rely on a gas fired power plant but also on wind power, introducing standards for housing to reduce the reliance on air conditioning and support for sustainable building projects to provide prototypes for the future to replace the McMansions that have been so popular in recent years. Why would Mike Rann pay any heed to someone like Observa? – there will never be any concession by Observa that Mike Rann has anything right.

    Whilst there is a general acceptance of Global Warming there is no guarantee that public opinion won’t shift again – especially as there is so much call for “balance” in the ABC media by the Howard government which means that even very silly propositions can get a lot of air time. This then flows over into the sensationalist popular media. Thus whilst the denialists are on the back foot, like the creationists they keep on coming back, and marketing their faith based propaganda.

    The political reality dictates what is possible and can lead to poor decisions if they are popular enough with the punters. Instead of attacking those who are trying to find solutions Observa should put forward some solutions. There is no one solution to the problem as Mr Howard suggests with his nuclear power plants. The downsides are too many including the risks of radio activity and terrorism.

    Mr Rann did not make South Australia dependent on coal fired power stations and as a smaller state there isn’t the money to replace them in the short term. It may not be enough but at least there is a measurable goal and at least there are lessons that can be learnt by other states and the federal government.

    The parallels with the Japanese invasion of Australia in 1942 is that Australians believed that the Japanese wanted to invade and take over – with some clear evidence to support this view. Australians took action and won. There is no reason to think that Australians cannot do the same with global warming if they have governments that put them and the planet first whilst working cooperatively with overseas allies. The Australians and their allies didn’t win every battle but they learned from their mistakes and kept on working. Luckily they didn’t give up after pig iron Bob had sold the metals that came back to Australian troops as bullets and bombs. They also didn’t give up when the Singapore strategy went so wrong.

    Australia can only avert disaster by looking for intelligent solutions. The denialists make this harder by diverting attention from developing solutions to arguing that there is a problem.

  55. Richard Tol
    March 8th, 2007 at 20:52 | #55

    John Q: You’re ducking the point. My source of info is someone very close to the government, and this person claims that environmental law is binding in Australia. If this is not true, then Australia could have signed, ratified and converted the Kyoto Protocol without a loss of sovereignty, and Lavoisier is wrong and my point is moot.

    (I know it is tempting to start with the premise that Lavoisier is wrong and from that deduce that environmental law is non-binding in Australia.)

    The same person argues that the asperational nature of EU environmental law was a reason for Australia not to ratify Kyoto. Various people close to the previous, current and future US administration say the same thing (about US ratification, not Australian ratification). I deduce from that that Australian and US law are similar in this regard, but that is an assertion, not a fact. In the US, one can for sure sue the government for not implementation the law, and one would likely win.

    I know next to nothing about Australia.

  56. jquiggin
    March 8th, 2007 at 21:21 | #56

    I’ve heard this point made in relation to the US, but I’m confident it’s not true in Australia at least as regards signing and ratifying (don’t know what “converted” means in this context). Of course, if the Parliament passes a law it’s binding (except that, as I mentioned, you have to have standing to engage in legal action). I find it hard to believe that laws in the EU are not binding – can you explain what you mean by this?

    And, given that, as you say, you know next to nothing about Australia, I reluctantly have to tell you that “people very close to the government” in Australia are often ill-informed and occasionally tell big porkies. Coming from the EU, as you do, you’ll find this hard to believe, I’m sure. However, as any of my Australian readers will tell you, it’s sad but true.

    Finally, I’m still keen to hear your thoughts on our “sceptic” friend

  57. Spiros
    March 8th, 2007 at 21:27 | #57

    “Various people close to the … future US administration”

    This would have to be Nostradamus.

    For the benefit of those of us with soothsaying powers, is this going to be the Obama Administration, the Guiliani Administration, the Brownback Administration, the Clinton Administration, or the Administration of someeone who has not yet entered the race?

  58. Richard Tol
    March 8th, 2007 at 23:04 | #58

    hi Spiros, there are not that many options for the next US administration, are there? on specialised issues like climate policy, they all rely on the same small group of advisors which vary slightly between the Republican and the Democratic candidates

    one really needs to spell out every single detail at this website

  59. Richard Tol
    March 8th, 2007 at 23:13 | #59

    John Q: as I said

    the main EU governments can ignore their Kyoto targets at will — missed targets can only be challenged in parliament — one does not need an act, or a regulation, or a decree, or decision or anything to be allowed to miss a target — the government cannot be challenged in court, and neither can parliament

    environmental targets in the EU are aspirational only, which goes a long way to explaining why the EU so happily accepts targets — if we decide later that the target was wrong, we just ignore it

  60. Seeker
    March 9th, 2007 at 02:37 | #60

    “However, the masses are not about to… …follow the Bob Browns of world into some form of pre-industrial age communal living.” Andrew.

    That is a stupid, dishonest claim, which completely misrepresents position taken by Brown (and others). It is also a classic example of the hysterical smear campaign tactics long used against environmental issues and those who raise them.

    Try again.

  61. rog
    March 9th, 2007 at 07:27 | #61

    The EU remains without a constitution, there is no definition of powers of member states vs those of the EU. The defeated draft constitution would have given more power to the EU over member states, at present the EU parliament cannot act over laws of member states and cannot initiate legislation, thay can only ‘advise’.

    There is still no agreement as to how EU member states will achieve CO2 ands energy targets and how.
    http://euobserver.com/9/23652

  62. Andrew
    March 9th, 2007 at 08:31 | #62

    Seeker, I suspect you’re probably correct – Bob Brown (and others) probably don’t really mean everything they say and probably misrepresent themselves alot of the time….. Bob Brown probably doesn’t really want to shut down the coal industry in three years, he probably just said that to create noise and raise awareness of the issue… an ambit claim if you will. I’m assuming that you don’t agree that this is good idea?

    I raise it again as an answer to JQs question on why there are still denialists…. surely intelligent people can’t believe that GW is not real? I think the answer is simply that whilst you have intelligent people like Bob Brown on one side making wild ambit claims, you will inevitably end-up with intelligent people on the other side making their own ambit claims.

  63. frankis
    March 9th, 2007 at 09:45 | #63

    “Keep things as simple as possible, but not too simple.” — Albert Einstein

  64. Roger Jones
    March 9th, 2007 at 12:02 | #64

    From a source very close to the government

    CONCLUSION OF TREATIES BY AUSTRALIA

    In Australia, under the Constitution, only the Federal Government can conclude treaties – the States and Territories have no power to do so.

    Pursuant to the Constitution, the treaty-making power is formally exercised by the Governor-General, who acts on the advice of Ministers. When it is proposed that Australia become a party to a treaty, the text of the treaty must first be approved by Cabinet or, if its subject matter falls within existing policy, by relevant Ministers. It must then be approved by the Governor-General in Council (Executive Council) which authorises the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to issue a formal instrument providing for signature, ratification of, or accession to the treaty, as appropriate.

    The approval of Parliament is not required for the conclusion of a treaty. However, a treaty is not binding in itself in Australian domestic law. If Australian law – State, Territory or Federal – must be altered to give effect to a treaty, the necessary legislation must be passed by Parliament in the normal way. Australia will not become a party to a treaty unless this has been done prior to the treaty becoming binding on Australia.

    Federal Parliament is kept informed of the treaty-making activities of the Government by the tabling in both Houses of the texts of treaties which the Government has under consideration for treaty action, together with a National Interest Analysis. The Government will not, except in cases of extreme urgency, take binding treaty action until fifteen sitting days after tabling. The Joint Standing [Parliamentary] Committee on Treaties examines and reports on all tabled treaties.

    http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/dfat/treaty_list/TL-introduction.html

    The convention here is clear – the treaty is not binding in domestic law but Australia will not ratify a treaty until domestic legislation has been passed to make it binding. This convention itself is non-binding, so plenty of room here for hair-splitting folks. Split away!

  65. rog
    March 9th, 2007 at 18:59 | #65

    Not really, for the treaty to be law the Australian parliament must approve treaties entered into by the cabinet or ministers. Once the parliament approves the bill, the treaty becomes binding ie L.A.W.

  66. Seeker
    March 9th, 2007 at 20:43 | #66

    Andrew. I think it is fair to describe it as an ambit claim, of the kind hardly unknown in mainstream politics. I would not have made that claim myself. There is simply no way that the coal industry will be closed in 3 years. Ten-twenty years, maybe.

    Sorry if I seemed a little hot under the collar, but as someone who has followed environmental politics and issues for over two decades, and who knows a bit more than the average punter about the basic science and technology behind some of it, it really annoys me that this stuff is STILL so misrepresented by otherwise sensible, decent people. No serious member of the environmental movement is arguing we should go back to pre-industrial lifestyles, that is a total crock of shite. Indeed, they are arguing the opposite, that we should accelerate the development and implementation of high efficiency and sustainable technologies. Which is hardly Luddite or anti-market in nature. And, frankly, if we had listened to them earlier, we wouldn’t have half the problems we have got now.

    Rant off.

    Cheers.

  67. March 10th, 2007 at 00:13 | #67

    Hmm, suffering from the delusion that I keep posting the same thing here and it keeps disappearing, let me try again. Since every treaty involves a loss of sovereignty what is the point, except that some prefer invasion to diplomacy? OTOH, a this has lead me to a brief reading of the Australian Constitituion and it appears that the Parliment can limit the jurisdiction of the courts, so again, what’s the point.

  68. Ian Gould
    March 10th, 2007 at 07:11 | #68

    Richard Tol: “John Q: You’re ducking the point. My source of info is someone very close to the government, and this person claims that environmental law is binding in Australia. If this is not true, then Australia could have signed, ratified and converted the Kyoto Protocol without a loss of sovereignty, and Lavoisier is wrong and my point is moot.”

    Richard, your source is wrong.

    As others have pointed out, international treaties are only binding on Australian governments when, and to the extent, that they have been incorporated into Australian law.

    More importantly, Australia’s constitutional system is much more similar to the UK’s than to America’s, meaning there are very few constitutional limits on the power of Parliament. (While we have a written constitution its a minimalist document which imposes very few restrictions on the powers of Parliament.

    Should a government dislike the effect of a treaty, they can simply amend the legislation which enacted the treaty into Australian law. They can even, if they wish, make such amendments retrospective.

    The Howard government’s treatment of international treaties covering the rights of refugees is a pretty good example of the limited effect of such agreements on Australian law.

    The fact that as your source correctly claims Australian governments can be sued is pretty trivial in this context (especially since the standiung to sue also derives not from the Constitution but from Acts of Parliament which can also be amended at the government’s whim.)

  69. Ian Gould
    March 10th, 2007 at 07:12 | #69

    Richard Tol: “John Q: You’re ducking the point. My source of info is someone very close to the government, and this person claims that environmental law is binding in Australia. If this is not true, then Australia could have signed, ratified and converted the Kyoto Protocol without a loss of sovereignty, and Lavoisier is wrong and my point is moot.”

    Richard, your source is wrong.

    As others have pointed out, international treaties are only binding on Australian governments when, and to the extent, that they have been incorporated into Australian law.

    More importantly, Australia’s constitutional system is much more similar to the UK’s than to America’s, meaning there are very few constitutional limits on the power of Parliament. (While we have a written constitution its a minimalist document which imposes very few restrictions on the powers of Parliament.

    Should a government dislike the effect of a treaty, they can simply amend the legislation which enacted the treaty into Australian law. They can even, if they wish, make such amendments retrospective.

    The Howard government’s treatment of international treaties covering the rights of refugees is a pretty good example of the limited effect of such agreements on Australian law.

    The fact that as your source correctly claims Australian governments can be sued is pretty trivial in this context (especially since the standing to sue also derives not from the Constitution but from Acts of Parliament which can also be amended at the government’s whim.)

  70. rog
    March 10th, 2007 at 07:17 | #70

    Breaking news; the EU have agreed on a reduction of CO2, 20% by 2020. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said “We can say to the rest of the world, Europe is taking the lead….You should join us in fighting climate change.”
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,470926,00.html

    Green groups have hit out at Barroso claiming that his choice of vehicles are not in line with reducing consumption. Barroso replied ““I never see myself as an example. A moralistic approach is not mine. We are setting public targets and should avoid giving certificates of good behaviour to individuals.â€?

    http://timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article1480366.ece

    Barroso is quite correct, climate change should not involve moralising or shaming others and to do so is counter productive.

  71. Richard Tol
    March 10th, 2007 at 07:22 | #71

    Ian, Roger: Thank for the crash course in Australian law. They way I understand this, is that once an international treaty is converted into domestic law, it is binding until an new law is passed. That is stronger than in the EU, where the law can just be ignored.

    Kyoto would have infringed Australian sovereignty, but in a minimal way only.

  72. Ian Gould
    March 10th, 2007 at 10:51 | #72

    Observa,

    When we attempt to understand the action of politicians, it isn’t totally unreasonable to assume that self-interest and hypocrisy are prime motivators.

    However this isn’t necessarily the case with Rann’s 50/50 pledge.

    1. Essentially all current powerplants will need to be replaced before 2050. Rann may simply want to avoid compensating the owners of the current brown-coal baseload powerplants for an early shut-down. Replacing these plants with more gas-power or renewables when they reach the end of their operating lives may be the economically rational response.

    2. Rann may believe that other sectors of the SA economy can reduce emissions by more than 50% to offset additional emissions from the power sector.

    3. As part of a national emissiosn trading scheme, it may be rational for SA to buy emission credits rather than reduce its own emissions. This obviously depends on the cost of new low-carbon technologies in different parts of Australia beign lower than in SA.

    4. Closing down the Hazelwood, Loy Yang and Yallourn brown coal powerplants in Victoria and replacing them with gas powerplants; black-coal-generated power supplied from New South Wales and Queensland or with coal gasification plants running off brown coal is probably the lowest-cost medium to long-term way of significantly reducing Australia’s energy-related GHG emissions. (I say probably becasue we don;t know how the future price of renewables is going to move.) If we pursue that policy (including compensating the owners and assisting the workers to retrain), other states may only need to contribute relatively small emission reductions.

  73. Stephen L
    March 10th, 2007 at 15:22 | #73

    Andrew (and Seeker) Bob Brown may or may not have been making an ambit claim, but he was NOT suggesting closing down the coal in three years. What he called for was the drawing up of a plan *within three years* to phase out the coal industry over a longer period of time (I think ten years was mentioned).

    I’m not sure what Flannery’s position is.

    Now one may question whether such a plan is necessary, but in a carbon constrained world the coal industry is certainly going to be shrinking in the medium to long run, so such a plan may prove useful if more radical than required. Even in the non-existent prospect of a Green government at this election Brown is not suggesting we have coal export shut by 2010.

  74. rog
    March 10th, 2007 at 21:55 | #74

    Brown backs Flannery’s position to end all coal mining.

    Locally the Greens are backing the thoroughbred horse industry who are asking for a moratorium on coal; Bob Oatley once complained that a new mine had ruined the view of his valley. Needless to say the mine went ahead and Oatley sold Rosemount for a fortune.

  75. snuh
    March 11th, 2007 at 14:38 | #75

    Thank for the crash course in Australian law. They way I understand this, is that once an international treaty is converted into domestic law, it is binding until an new law is passed. That is stronger than in the EU, where the law can just be ignored.

    on what basis do you say that a law in the EU can just be ignored?

  76. Seeker
    March 11th, 2007 at 17:01 | #76

    StephenL: Thanks for the clarification that Brown’s position is actually more reasonable.

  77. Richard Tol
    March 11th, 2007 at 17:59 | #77

    Snuh: Laws on the environment can be ignored by the government, because of faulty separation of powers.

  78. jquiggin
    March 12th, 2007 at 11:24 | #78

    As seems to be the case a lot, I’m not quite clear what Richard is claiming here. This BBC report of a 20 million euro fine, plus continuing penalties imposed on France by the European Court of Justice for failing to implement an agreement on fishing, suggests that EU-level agreements aren’t entirely toothless. And this case where Friends of the Earth successfully sued the German government to make them disclose the climate impact of export credits suggests that environmental groups can take national governments to court over actions that violate national environmental law.

    I imagine there are lots of qualifications to be made here. I’ll leave it to Richard to make them, or restate his claim that governments can just ignore the law.

  79. March 12th, 2007 at 12:54 | #79

    PrQ,
    There are numerous examples of EU governments ignoring EU law for long periods. Only after an extended period does the EU actually come in and try to force the matter.
    Even the example you gave – the BBC report – makes this clear. The ruling came in 1991 and it was only in 2005 that the fine was imposed. My guess would be tht the actual treaty establishing the fishing rules was signed years, if not decades, earlier. I do not have the time, or the need, to research further back.
    Richard may have somewhat overstated the case in saying it can simply be ignored, but it can certainly be set to one side for extended periods if the relevant government finds it inconvenient to implement. The bigger the countries the longer this period seems to be, with France a notable example.

  80. jquiggin
    March 12th, 2007 at 13:21 | #80

    AR, I agree that the law is slow, and its enforcement against governments is undoubtedly politically constrained. This is true in Australia also – the Mabo case took ten years to get a High Court judgement, and many more years to take effect. The NCP process was comparably protracted, and I’m sure I could think of many more examples if you want them.

    As I said, there are plenty of qualifications to be made here. I’d just like Richard to make the qualifications first, instead of making overstatements of the case, and then taking any questioning of them as an attack on his authority.

  81. Richard Tol
    March 12th, 2007 at 16:42 | #81

    John Q: Great counterexamples.

    France was fined, at long last, for not carrying out inspections — not for not protecting fish stocks as they had committed themselves too.

    Germany was sued under the local version of the freedom of information and due process acts.

    If you want to see examples of the EU and its Member States violating their laws and regulations, look no further than the 1995 and 2000 targets for carbon dioxide emissions — proudly announced, widely missed, and largely forgotten. As I said, the current show on targets for 2020 is to make people forget about 2012.

    Now, a purist lawyer may argue that the targets were never law anyway, and seldom are. Targets are aspirations, and measures are law. And one needs to do an ex-ante study to show that the measures will meet the aspirations …

    That’s global stuff. In local stuff, local authorities are often exempt from rules on recycling, energy efficiency, wastewater. The reasoning is simple. The authorities always act in the best interest of the people; regulation is therefore unnecessary.

  82. jquiggin
    March 12th, 2007 at 17:15 | #82

    As you say, targets aren’t laws, and governments, business and individuals everywhere routinely announce targets, miss them, and try to get everyone to forget about them. I thought you were claiming some distinction between the EU and the world at large, regarding the enforcability of laws against national governments.

    Local authority exemptions were the rule here until recently, but a lot of them have been removed as part of competition policy. I’m pretty sure the same is true of the UK, but quite possibly the rest of the EU is lagging a bit in this respect.

    I’d be interested in more details on the 1995 and 2000 targets you refer to. Do you mean targets to be achieved by these dates announced at some earlier date – if so, I must concede they have been forgotten, at least by me.

    If by 1995 targets you mean the targets for 2010 announced in 1995, then it’s pretty clear that they will be missed (unsurprisingly, since they relied on voluntary measures), but it’s hard to say they have been forgotten, since the automotive component has just been replaced by mandatory measures with a target date of 2012.

  83. rog
    March 12th, 2007 at 18:10 | #83

    The ECJ can only rule on treaties of the EU and cannot overrule national laws. It should be pointed out that France ignored 15 years of fines by the ECJ and I can find no evidence that they have paid the last one, but could presume that they have.

  84. Richard Tol
    March 13th, 2007 at 03:27 | #84

    Thanks, Rog.

    John Q: Lavoisier has a case: Kyoto would have reduced Australian sovereignty. They overstated their case, but then who does not? Rather than discussing their case on its (meagre) merits, you ridicule them. You ridicule me for pointing out that they have a case. And you try to distract the attention from the original point, by turning the attention to environmental law in the EU and its member states.

    Ditto for Landscheidt. Anybody who has looked at the physics (pre-Svensmark) knows that the solar cycle cannot influence climate. Yet, anybody who has looked at the data knows that it does. Rather than discussing the case at its merits, you ridicule Landscheidt. He was a serious man, who also dabbled in astrology, like many of his generation. You argue that because of his interest in astrology, his climate work must be wrong (and conveniently forget that many others have drawn the same conclusion) – and imply that, because they cite a man who is also interested in astrology, Lavoisier are all fools.

    I may discern a pattern here. You initially try to argue on merit, but when someone has a genuine objection, you quickly move to distraction and abuse.

  85. Majorajam
    March 13th, 2007 at 07:00 | #85

    I’m sorry Richard, JQ brought up environmental law in the EU and its member states? Do you even try to be honest, or do you have the memory of a prokaryotic bacterium? I’m not sure the latter is sufficient in any case, as the blog will serve as record for any sufficiently diligent primordial organism. So, please the court, read what you wrote in #36 again and pull yourself together.

    Btw, Lavoisier’s claim regarding the loss of sovereignty is clearly hyperbolic, regardless of how tedious and long-winded you want to get on the subject (one advantage of not being an academic is that I don’t have to humor such nonsense). However, it should also be noted that the claim that this group of paid hacks is intellectually dishonest is not dependent on it. That can rest nicely on myriad other bases- if interested (and I won’t hold my breath), you can always click the link in the blog post.

  86. Richard Tol
    March 13th, 2007 at 07:16 | #86

    Majorajam rides to John Q’s rescue again.

    Lavoisier made a point about sovereignty. I argued that they had a point, and added that they overlooked the EU bit of their point. John Q only wants to talk about the EU afterwards. Fair enough, I provided a distraction, but John Q grabbed it with both hands, and he refuses to return to the actual discussion that he started in the first place.

  87. Ken Miles
    March 13th, 2007 at 09:21 | #87

    Anybody who has looked at the physics (pre-Svensmark) knows that the solar cycle cannot influence climate. Yet, anybody who has looked at the data knows that it does.

    No no no.

    This is just plain wrong – in fact, I’m not sure if it is possible to be more wrong than this. It has been known for a long time that solar cycles can potential effect climate, however the data indicates that they don’t (at least not significantly).

  88. jquiggin
    March 13th, 2007 at 09:59 | #88

    The Lavoisier statement was ludicrous hyperbole, just like the Eurosceptic I quoted (whom I notice you ignored). Comparing a treaty on energy use with foreign invasion is silly.

    As regards the merits of Landscheidt’s serious work, let me quote an extract from a review of his major work published in 1989.

    Landscheidt discovered that Jupiter, our largest planet, seemed to play a crucial role in three different types of configurations (astrological aspects). He writes that Jupiter’s aspects to Earth and Venus exert tide-generating forces on the Sun, seeming to modulate or regulate some Sun activities. Mercury shared this tidal role but its influence was so small that forecasts could be made without including its position. The role of Mars is even smaller according to Landscheidt, and he leaves it out of his calculations. Pluto also can be ignored.

    Secondly, Landscheidt says that Jupiter’s aspects to the other three gas giants, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, influence the Sun’s revolution around the Barycenter or center of mass (CM) in the solar system, and the resultant variations in the Sun’s movements in turn influence the planetary motions through feedback loops. The Sun is on the CM when Jupiter opposes Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The center of the Sun is farthest away from the CM when Jupiter forms a massive conjunction with the three big outer planets.

    Though many scientists are predicting increasing heat from the “greenhouse� effect of gasses which retain heat in the atmosphere of earth, Landscheidt is predicting a colder period just ahead. Sunspot minima have been associated with increased cold in the past, including two periods called “mini ice ages� when glaciers actually advanced for some years. Landscheidt expects a period of sunspot minima after 1990, accompanied by increased cold, with a stronger minima and more intense cold which should peak in 2030. He does not expect the cold period to end until 2070. It would be interesting if the “greenhouse� gasses and the sunspot minima cancel each other and the situation stays relatively normal.

    Is there a physicist in the house?

  89. Richard Tol
    March 13th, 2007 at 16:36 | #89

    John Q: Old habits die hard. Why don’t you stop ridiculing that poor Landscheidt, forget about astrology, and see whether you can provide arguments for Ken Miles’ claim? Your line of argument is akin to “Aristotle was pro-slavery and anti-usury. I am anti-slavery and therefore pro-usury.”

    Ken M: I was talking about the cycle in sunspot numbers, not about the sun in general. I was talking about variability, not about change.

  90. Ken Miles
    March 14th, 2007 at 10:51 | #90

    Richard, that high energy ions can cause condensation is well known (cloud chambers [which use this effect to measure radiation] were invented almost hundred years ago). Svensmark’s contribution to the experimental data is minor.

    This abstract was written in 1975 (pre-Svensmark):

    Mechanisms possibly connecting solar activity to meteorology of the lower atmosphere are reviewed. Besides direct variations of solar visible emission, solar-related fluctuations in some aspect of cloudiness could be important. Any such variations are likely to be related to variations in production of ionization near the tropopause by galactic cosmic rays, the only geophysical phenomena unconnected with upper atmospheric processes known to have a striking (negative) correlation with solar activity. Such a connection might involve a dependence of sulfate aerosol formation on ionization and in turn a dependence of cloud radiative properties on variations of the aerosol particles’ action as cloud condensation nuclei.

    From Solar Variability and the Lower Atmosphere by Robert E. Dickinson (Bulletin American Meteorological Society Vol 56, page 1240 1975).

  91. Ken Miles
    March 14th, 2007 at 14:55 | #91

    Here’s a interesting abstract concerning the relationship between solar cycles/cosmic rays and climate.

    The last decade has seen a revival of various hypotheses claiming a strong correlation between solar activity and a number of terrestrial climate parameters: Links between cosmic rays and cloud cover, first total cloud cover and then only low clouds, and between solar cycle lengths and Northern Hemisphere land temperatures. These hypotheses play an important role in the scientific as well as in the public debate about the possibility
    or reality of a man-made global climate change. I have analyzed a number of published graphs which have played a major role in these debates and which have been claimed to support solar hypotheses. My analyses show that the apparent strong correlations displayed on these graphs have been obtained by an incorrect handling of the physical data. Since the graphs are still widely referred to in the literature and their misleading character has not yet been generally recognized, I have found it appropriate to deliver the present overview. Especially, I want to caution against drawing any conclusions based upon these graphs concerning the possible wisdom or futility of reducing the emissions of man-made greenhouse gases.

    My findings do not by any means rule out the existence of important links between solar activity and terrestrial climate. Such links have over the years been demonstrated by many authors. The sole objective of the present analysis is to draw attention to the fact that some of the widely publicized, apparent correlations do not properly reflect the underlying physical data.

    The full paper can be found here.

  92. Ken Miles
    March 14th, 2007 at 14:58 | #92

    Why don’t you stop ridiculing that poor Landscheidt, forget about astrology, and see whether you can provide arguments for Ken Miles’ claim?

    Why on earth would is it John’s job to provide arguments for my claim?

    Surely, that’s mine job.

    Likewise, it’s your job to either provide evidence for your claims on solar/climate connections or retract them.

  93. Richard Tol
    March 14th, 2007 at 16:34 | #93

    Ken: Thanks. Laut’s paper effectively attacks one statistical paper, but leaves all the others standing. I do not need to provide this, as you can search the Web of Science or Scopus yourself — indeed, if you are an expert, you do not need this search.

    I am, in fact, not interested in discussed the relationship between sun and climate — at least not with anonymous people of uncertain expertise.

    I am more interested in John Q’s discussion tactics. Arguments like “Landscheidt did astrology and therefore his climatology is wrong” and methods like “Curtin throws up uncomfortable facts and therefore I will exclude him”.

  94. rog
    March 14th, 2007 at 18:03 | #94

    I cant see any problem with the “Landscheidt did astrology and therefore his climatology is wrongâ€? argument, its exactly the same as “Al Gore is a failed politician and therefore his climatology is wrongâ€? . Both are in the same category of the “aiiens stole my baby” tabloid broadcast.

    Once we can agree that both sides of the fence are represented by frauds then the program can move on.

  95. Tony G
    March 14th, 2007 at 18:53 | #95

    Is Robert Carter a ‘delusionist’ or are the Global Warming Exaggerators the delusionists?

    Robert Carter, a marine geologist at James Cook University, Queensland.

    In a blog late last year, Dr Carter joined other geologists in ticking off Mr Gore over his perceived failure to acknowledge the globe’s long history of climate change.

    “Nowhere does Mr Gore tell his audience that all of the phenomena that he describes fall within the natural range of environmental change on our planet,” Dr Carter wrote.
    “NOR DOES HE PRESENT ANY EVIDENCE THAT CLIMATE DURING THE 20TH CENTURY DEPARTED DISCERNIBLY FROM ITS HISTORICAL PATTERN OF CONSTANT CHANGE.”

    Global Warming falls “within the natural range of environmental change on our planet�.

    He is a “moderate” scientist with no political axe to grind. Can that be said for the ‘delusionist exaggerators’. The people that want to introduce a new tax based on a delusion.

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/scientists-have-inconvenient-news-for-gore/2007/03/13/1173722471286.html

  96. Richard Tol
    March 14th, 2007 at 19:41 | #96

    Rog: I disagree. John Q’s assertion is that because Landscheidt erred in Area A, he must have erred in Area B too, and anything he ever said about Area B must be wrong.

    According to John Q’s logic, Newtonian physics is bollocks because Newton dabbled in alchemy.

    My assertion is less sweeping: Al Gore is a politician, and therefore cannot be trusted with the truth. I do not claim that anything Al Gore ever said must be wrong.

  97. Ian Gould
    March 14th, 2007 at 23:01 | #97

    “Is Robert Carter a ‘delusionist’?”

    Yes. The patently dishonest statement is additional proof of that to anyone who needs it.

    Oh and that group of “moderate scientists with no political axe to grind” is made up entirely of denialists (and fitting makes up almost the entirety of the scientifically qualified denialists).

    The axe-non-grinders include an anthropologist; a statistician; an etymologist and a political scientist. I’m sure if a group of scientists with those qualifications came out and enorsed Al’s movie, their opinions would carry equal weight with you.

    A further rebuttal of this nonsense can be found here: http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/3/12/233737/021

  98. tony g
    March 15th, 2007 at 21:19 | #98

    “their opinions would carry equal weight with you.”

    No, but it is convenient for the ‘GW Exaggerators’ to disregard the climatic research undertaken by Dr Carter and other geologists.

    His research provides a fairly accurate record of global temperature fluctuations for the last 60,000 years. All this information is stored in rocks and as a geologist, he is better qualified than most to collate it.

    So when he infers that “climate during the 20th century has not departed discernibly from its historical pattern of constant change.” It would be very difficult to dispute that fact.

    Some of the other things in his ‘Ten Facts’ make sense. (Although parts are justifiably disputed)

    His;

    “TEN FACTS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE

    1. Climate has always changed, and always will. The assumption that prior to the industrial revolution the Earth had a “stable” climate is simply wrong. The only sensible thing to do about climate change is to prepare for it.

    2. Accurate temperature measurements made from weather balloons and satellites since the late 1950s show at most minor atmospheric warming since then. In contrast, averaged ground-based thermometers record a warming of about 0.40 C over the same time period. Many scientists still believe that the thermometer record is biased by the Urban Heat Island effect and other artefacts.

    3. Despite the expenditure of about US$50 billion dollars on climate research since 1990, no unambiguous anthropogenic (human) signal has been identified in the global temperature pattern.

    4. Without the greenhouse effect, the average surface temperature on Earth would be -180 C rather than the equable +150 C that has nurtured the development of life.

    Carbon dioxide is a lesser greenhouse gas, responsible for ~26% (80) of the total greenhouse effect (330), of which in turn at most 25% (~20) can be attributed to carbon dioxide contributed by human activity. Water, at ~60-70% of the effect, is by far the most important cause of atmospheric greenhouse warming.

    5. On both annual (1 year) and geological (up to 100,000 year) time scales, changes in temperature PRECEDE changes in CO2. Carbon dioxide therefore cannot be the primary forcing agent for temperature increase (though increasing CO2 does cause a mild positive temperature feedback).

    6. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been the main scaremonger for the global warming lobby, leading to the Kyoto Protocol. Fatally, the IPCC is a political, not scientific, body.

    Hendrik Tennekes, recently retired as Director of Research at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, says that “the IPCC review process is fatally flawed” and that “the IPCC wilfully ignores the paradigm shift created by the foremost meteorologist of the twentieth century, Edward Lorenz”.

    7. The Kyoto Protocol will cost many trillions of dollars, will have a devastating effect on the economies of those countries that have signed it, but will deliver no significant cooling (less than .020 C by 2050).

    The Russian Academy of Sciences says that Kyoto has no scientific basis; Andre Illarianov, senior advisor to Russian president Putin, calls Kyoto-ism “one of the most agressive, intrusive, destructive ideologies since the collapse of communism and fascism”. If Kyoto is a “first step”, it is in the wrong direction.

    8. Climate change is a non-linear (chaotic) process, some parts of which are only dimly or not at all understood. No deterministic computer model will ever be able to make an accurate prediction of climate 100 years into the future.

    9. Not surprisingly, therefore, experts in computer modelling agree also that no current (or likely near-future) climate model will be able to make accurate predictions of regional climate change.

    10. The biggest untruth about human global warming is the assertion that nearly all scientists agree that it is occurring, and at a dangerous rate.

    The reality is that almost every aspect of climate science is the subject of vigorous debate. And thousands of qualified scientists worldwide have signed declarations which (i) query the evidence for human-caused warming and (ii) support a rational scientific (not emotional) approach to its study.”

    http://members.iinet.net.au/~glrmc/

    IMHO point ten is a reasonable reflection of reality and the way we should be heading.

  99. Ian Gould
    March 16th, 2007 at 03:56 | #99

    “Without the greenhouse effect, the average surface temperature on Earth would be -180 C rather than the equable +150 C that has nurtured the development of life.”

    I guess that’s one of the “justifiably disputed” bits.

  100. Ian Gould
    March 16th, 2007 at 04:37 | #100

    “And thousands of qualified scientists worldwide have signed declarations which (i) query the evidence for human-caused warming and (ii) support a rational scientific (not emotional) approach to its study.â€?”

    Surely you aren’t referring to the Oregon Petition.

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

    “In 2005, Scientific American reported:

    Scientific American took a sample of 30 of the 1,400* signatories claiming to hold a Ph.D. in a climate-related science. Of the 26 we were able to identify in various databases, 11 said they still agreed with the petition —- one was an active climate researcher, two others had relevant expertise, and eight signed based on an informal evaluation. Six said they would not sign the petition today, three did not remember any such petition, one had died, and five did not answer repeated messages. Crudely extrapolating, the petition supporters include a core of about 200 climate researchers – a respectable number, though rather a small fraction of the climatological community. [13]

    One newspaper reporter said, in 2005:

    In less than 10 minutes of casual scanning, I found duplicate names (Did two Joe R. Eaglemans and two David Tompkins sign the petition, or were some individuals counted twice?), single names without even an initial (Biolchini), corporate names (Graybeal & Sayre, Inc. How does a business sign a petition?), and an apparently phony single name (Redwine, Ph.D.). These examples underscore a major weakness of the list: there is no way to check the authenticity of the names. Names are given, but no identifying information (e.g., institutional affiliation) is provided. Why the lack of transparency? [14]“

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