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Suppressed viewpoints on climate change

August 5th, 2008

There’s a lot of complaints about how some viewpoints in the climate change debate are being suppressed. As Tim Dunlop notes, most of them come from a group which gets lots of press attention (in fact, far more than its support among the public, let alone among climate scientists, would justify). But there is one viewpoint that seems almost completely suppressed. Like other Australians, the vast majority of supporters of the Coalition parties accept the scientific evidence and support action to mitigate climate change but I can’t think of a single member of the rightwing commentariat who does so with any enthusiasm. (The closest in the print media is John Hewson, who has a fortnightly column in the Fin. He’s good on climate change, but I wouldn’t regard him as a full-time member fo the commentariat). Among rightwing bloggers, the orthodoxy is similarly monolithic. The only exceptions of whom I’m aware are Harry Clarke and Opinion Dominion.

(Note: I’ve changed some terminology in response to comments)/

  1. Jack Strocchi
    August 5th, 2008 at 11:14 | #1

    Pr Q says:

    there is one viewpoint that seems almost completely suppressed. Although a large proportion of supporters of the conservative parties accept the scientific evidence and strongly support action to mitigate climate change, I can’t think of a single member of the conservative commentariat who does so with any enthusiasm.

    Pr Q is perhaps not thinking very hard for a change. Paul Sheehan is often lumped in as a “member of the conservative commentariat”. He has been a “enthusiastic” supporter of action to mitigate climate change and other sustainable ecology policies for a decade or more. A typical comment, in which he lambasts his one-time poster politician, written on the morrow of the Rudd election:

    There was also a shocking absence of vision in Howard’s last year, personified by his almost wilful blindness on the greatest issue facing this country – climate change and water. Howard’s responses were belated, begrudging and piecemeal to the very end. In the keynote address that launched his 2007 election campaign, not once, in 4400 words, did he utter the words “climate change”.

    (And, on a much pettier scale, I can think of one Johhny-Come-Lately amongst the conservative Ozblogitariat who is a pronounced ecological conservative. Unfortunately I tend to lose my cool when it comes to global warming denialists, sometimes with embarassing results.)

    The AUS conservative political coalition mindless love affair with everything Howard has caused it to betray its foundational principles over the past decade, with likely massive political cost.

    Conservatives should be reformatory – focusing on patching things up to conserve whats good in the present. Not reactionary (reconstructing the past) or revolutionary (constructing the future).

    Climate change mitigation was a perfect issue for reformatory conservatives. But AUS conservatives have been anything but conservative over the past generation, at least on financial, martial and ecological issues. THey have supported reactionary “constructivist” social engineering at home (industrial awards abrogating) and revolutionary “constructivist” social engineering abroad (regime changing) – siding with Trots fer crissake! Whilst blinding themselves to conserving the very air they breathe.

    Taking a cautious and change-dampening course on these three issues should have been no-brainers for conservatives. INstead they have continued on reckless jump-for-glory or gory and consequently find themselves in an unholy political mess.

    They have given the Left an everlasting issue which is the biggest gift that keeps giving.

  2. wilful
    August 5th, 2008 at 12:12 | #2

    Economic conservatism has certainly gained enough coverage, with pretty extensive debates within orthodoxy about the best ways to mitigate climate change. Ross Garnaut is a pretty obvious example of an economic conservative, ‘versus’ Warwick McKibben.

  3. Jack Strocchi
    August 5th, 2008 at 12:30 | #3

    And, on the subject of “supressed viewpoints on climate change”, can I once again point out that the Broad Left continues to been in denial and delusion about the massive greenhouse amplifying effects of extraordinary high rates of immigration into this country.

    (I exclude the Industrial Left from this attack, God bless them. There is always hope in the proles.)

    The issue of the quantities and qualities of mass influx is the gorilla squatting in the living room of climate change debate. Not the sort of Stuff White liberals Like unless it gives them the opportunity to “be offended”.

    I have been banging on about this for the better part of a year, ever since I started paying closer attention to the total numbers. The figures are mind boggling.

    Once you add up permanent arrivals, skilled visas, Kiwis, visa overstayers, tourists, illegal immigrants and unauthorised assylum seekers the total intake into this country is pushing 300,000+. And this push is planned to continue for the next three years – another million people squashed into Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane by 2010.

    If we are serious about reducing our carbon footprint we should be heading in the opposite direction towards reducing our net intake. Otherwise the state govts, in their economic boostering way, will just pile on more coal and oil powered or using generators, desalinators and freeways to cope with the sprawl.

    Most of these people will be forming greenhouse-costly households and living in the outer suburbs imposing more stress on the urban and natural environment. They will probably be able to afford to have more children and buy material goods in their adoptive, as opposed to native, nation. All of which imposes greater greenhouse load on the global environment.

    Paul Sheehan, one of the few conservatives who is alert to conservation issues, was bold enough to express himself forthrightly on this “supressed viewpoint on climate change”. He skewers the hypocrisy of the federal ALP on this issue, not to mention the blindness of Cultural Left-liberals:

    there is a growing disconnect between [Rudd's] soaring green rhetoric and pragmatic brown actions.

    This disconnect was evident early, during this year’s 2020 ideas festival at Parliament House. One notable attendee, Professor Ian Lowe, president of the Australian Conservation Foundation, was struck by the divergence between rhetoric and reality, and by the foregone conclusions built into the process.

    “There was a lack of willingness to address the big issue of population and consumption,” he has written in ACF News. “Many of us gave it a good try, but try as we might, we could not get recognition for the connection between our consumption levels.”

    Immigration was for a long time, with the exception of the heroic Ruddock interregnum, the gift of the Cultural Left-liberals. Now it has been taken up by the Commercial Right-liberals.

    Right-wing liberals like increased immigration because it increases market density. Left-wing liberals like increased immigration because it increases cultural diversity. It seems that liberalism, in its degenerate and disingenuous post-modern phase, is determined to ignore the incorrigibility of the law of diminishing returns and external bads.

    Evans hyper-immigration policy is unsustainable on basic ecological, logistical and anthropological principles.

    It is ecologically unsustainable. AUS does not have potable water, arable land or renewable power to drink, feed and power this many extra people. Even Jared Diamond, Cultural Left-liberal and Blank Slatist extraordinaire, thinks further mass immigration to AUS is a bad idea.

    It socio-logistically unsustainable. Our mass transport, community services and affordable housing are stretched to the limit. People spend a huge amount of time in queues of one form or another.

    And of course there is the perennial question of the anthropological sustainability of massive increased in cultural diversity. You would think ecologically minded might be sensitive to the problem of introducing exotic populations.

    But that only shows how far removed our contemporary cultural philosophers are from both anthropological, logistical and ecological realism. I know, we experimented with this form of liberalism in the seventies and eighties and it was a tremendous success, welcomed with open arms by the general populace. What could possibly go wrong this time around with twice the population density and diversity?

    I would like to ask the ecologically minded Cultural Left-liberals who have so far supressed or dodged this climate change viewpoint a couple of blunt questions:

    1. How are we meant to get our greenhouse gas emissions back to a small fraction of 1990 levels when we are adding another million greenhouse gas emitting household formers every election cycle?

    2. How are we meant to do this without massive increase in institutional authority over invividual autonomies? I mean rationing and regimenting. THe PRC is the one nation that had made a real dent in its carbon-emitting course by its one child policy. Crude, effective but illiberal.

    AND please, dont try to duck the question by taling about “per capita emissions”, references to rubbery Kyoto targets and fanciful attempts to trade our way out of the hole. Nature cares about the total population, not the typical member. She cannot be fooled by statistical ruses, rhetorical flourishes or Potemkin village carbon trading schemes.

  4. TerjeP
    August 5th, 2008 at 12:36 | #4

    I wouldn’t call John Hewson a conservative. He seems to me to be a very liberal sort of thinker. He should have been PM.

  5. Hermit
    August 5th, 2008 at 13:08 | #5

    Australia’s federal Liberals are in the position of UK Conservatives in that it may pay to talk greener than the government. If they oppose carbon reduction and remain silent on Rudd’s de facto high immigration policy they risk a further slide from what seems to be growing public opinion. There are other glaring anomalies; for example the green left points out the inconsistency of promoting coal exports at the same time as a domestic carbon trading scheme. I also believe that wind farms were installed at a faster rate during the late Howard years than currently under Rudd. These political leverage points the conservatives could exploit are going begging.

  6. Jack Strocchi
    August 5th, 2008 at 13:28 | #6

    TerjeP Says: August 5th, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    I wouldn’t call John Hewson a conservative. He seems to me to be a very liberal sort of thinker. He should have been PM.

    Neither would I. And he would have been a disastrous PM.

    He is a post-modern liberal – one who believes that there are no diminishing returns to individual autonomy and that financial reality at least can be “socially constructed”.

    The most suppressed viewpoint in AUS is that of the conservative, the person who is skeptical of politically promoted institutional change. There are virtually no conservatives in Australia amongst the media-academia-apparatchika complex. With the exception of the dwindling and endangered species of Right wing Culture Warrior.

    Most AUS opinon-makers are liberals of one form or another. Lots of Right-liberals and Left-liberals barracking for their preferred social strata and social strategy.

    Post-modern liberals have an instinctive favourable disposition towards institutional change, which they identify with holidays and thumbing their nose at authority. That is why liberals are always extending a warm welcome to anyone promising to make the world over.

    Post-modern liberalism is on the nose with AUS’s middle-class general populace. THey are fatigued with reform. Especially as it relates to permitting anti-social activities in the unter- and uber-classes – greenhouse gas splurging, share market manipulating, fire-sale privatising, ethnic-lobby pandering, drug-dealing, gang-banging, queue-jumping etc.

    But the populace’s views are generally ignored or derided by the elites, whenever it is ideologically convenient.

    Hardly any intellectuals understand the ontological basis for conservatism, at least as it was properly outlined by Burke, Hume, Oakeshott and Stove. Most local change sets in train a ripple of accidental or incidental with global effects, mostly for the worse. Ecological change is the most global example.

    Only sci-tech intellectuals have developed institutional mechanism to test novel ideas and gadgets properly for their veracity and validity.

  7. O6
    August 5th, 2008 at 13:32 | #7

    Right on, Hermit. You don’t need to be green or left to notice the following:
    There’s more Federal money going into roads than rail. ETS tax-relief for cars but not for rail (Minister Wong: ‘Rail is a State matter.’). There’s more Federal money going into “clean coal” than into all renewables put together.
    There’s no Federal money doing anything useful yet to fix the Murray-Darling.
    Perhaps the Rudd-Forrest-Pearson plan is the start of real change?

  8. August 5th, 2008 at 15:11 | #8

    I can only suggest that people read Garnaut more carefully before it’s too late. Might shed a little light.

  9. David
    August 5th, 2008 at 15:49 | #9

    Jack, many of us on the environmental left are well aware of the dangers of overpopulation (and have been, in some cases, for 40 years). The humane treatment of reffos is a completely different matter, and shouldn’t be conflated with a notion that “increased immigration gives us more nice restaurants to go to.”

  10. pablo
    August 5th, 2008 at 16:27 | #10

    I can’t believe no one brought up population sustainability at Rudd’s summit or perhaps it got whitewashed off the butchers paper in the summaries. Agree with David that it is up there with the left-leaning.

  11. August 5th, 2008 at 17:10 | #11

    I notice that Australia’s coal exports are something that is rarely mentioned as part of the mainstream policy debate.

  12. Ian Gould
    August 5th, 2008 at 18:02 | #12

    “Most of these people will be forming greenhouse-costly households and living in the outer suburbs imposing more stress on the urban and natural environment. They will probably be able to afford to have more children and buy material goods in their adoptive, as opposed to native, nation. All of which imposes greater greenhouse load on the global environment.”

    We;; Jack we coudl take more immigrants from countries with higher per capita CO2 emisisosn than our own.

    Given your assumption that emissions scale precisely to population (because as we know ever time a immigrant arrives in Australia Comalco automatically increases its Aluminium output). accepting immigrants from such countries should rersult in a reduuction in carbon dioxide emissions.

    We could start with Bahrain and Kuwait.

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/env_co2_emi_percap-environment-co2-emissions-per-capita

  13. Ian Gould
    August 5th, 2008 at 18:08 | #13

    “THe PRC is the one nation that had made a real dent in its carbon-emitting course by its one child policy.”

    Actually Jack the PRC’s emission growth is amongst the fastest in the world despite its one child policy.

    It’s almost as though there were factors besides raw population growth at work.

  14. Jack Strocchi
    August 5th, 2008 at 20:24 | #14

    David Says: August 5th, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Jack, many of us on the environmental left are well aware of the dangers of overpopulation (and have been, in some cases, for 40 years). The humane treatment of reffos is a completely different matter, and shouldn’t be conflated with a notion that “increased immigration gives us more nice restaurants to go to.�

    I am talking about immigration. You talking about reffos. Bait and switch. Nice try but I am not taking. The former dwarfs the latter in scale by getting on to an order of magnitude over the course of an electoral cycle.

    More AUS householders equals more grêenhouse gases. This is as close to axiomatic proposition as one is likely to get this side of Plato’s cave. Again, are any ecological concerned Leftists going to face up to this or are they just posing?

    The Ecological Left is a sub-set of the Cultural Left. At the moment the Cultural Left is in cahoots with the Commercial Left to maximise immigration. At some stage the Ecological Left will have to decide what its priorities are.

    The environmental Left’s contribution to the environmental debate in this country has alwaỳs been compromised by its cultural Leftism. This is disingenuous to say the least. You can have massive increases in diverse sociology and you can have sustainable ecology. But you cant really do both at the same time.

    The environmental Left tends to talk about overpopulation mainly for other countries, as a trojan horse for its family planning programs. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

    Always trying to smuggle in their own ideological agenda under the guise of “care for the environment”. Whilst jetting around the countryside and snêering at the rednecks out in McMansion land.

    So far as I can sêe, Ruđdock was the most environmentally cơnsìderate minister in recent AUS history. This is because he did the most to put the kibosh on discretionary population growth.

    I confess I was fÆ¡oled by Howard’s later immigration-bÆ¡osting policy which I thought was in national interest. Only now do I realise he was just building up captive labour and gÆ¡ods markets for Coles, Safeways, Meriton, BHP etc

    And laying up a store of woes for the ecology in the future.

    PS Letting people smugglers traffic in unauthorised aliens is a recipe for maritime disasters. I do not think that giving a freer pass to people smugglers amounts to a more “humane treatment of reffos”. Mass incarceration for most asylum seekers is more humane than mass drowning of a few asylum seekers.

  15. Ian Gould
    August 5th, 2008 at 20:32 | #15

    “Mass incarceration for most asylum seekers is more humane than mass drowning of a few asylum seekers.”

    Just think how much more humanitarian again a few exemplary crucifixions would have been.

  16. August 5th, 2008 at 21:01 | #16

    Can I scream persecution over the fact that none of the mainstream media outlets are covering the “Sue Us” Petition which I started?

    By the way, do sign the petition! :)

    More AUS householders equals more greenhouse gases. This is as close to axiomatic proposition as one is likely to get [...]

    The environmental Left tends to talk about overpopulation [...] as a trojan horse for its family planning programs.

    Strocchi just undermined his own “axiom”.

    – bi, International Journal of Inactivism

  17. Jack Strocchi
    August 5th, 2008 at 21:03 | #17

    Ian Gould Says: August 5th, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Given your assumption that emissions scale precisely to population (because as we know ever time a immigrant arrives in Australia Comalco automatically increases its Aluminium output).

    No I did not say that “assumptions scale precisely to population”. Try to avoid simple errors in comprehension by using the “copy and paste” keys to make reliable quotes.

    I explicitly stated that carbon emissions of any immigrants is likely to show increasing carbon returns to population scale because of their greater propensity to make large household gơods purchases and form larger families in the outer suburbs. You could call this the positive elasticity of the carbon emmission function to typical changes in immigration.

    Ian Gould says:

    Jack we coudl take more immigrants from countries with higher per capita CO2 emisisosn than our own. accepting immigrants from such countries should rersult in a reduuction in carbon dioxide emissions.

    We could start with Bahrain and Kuwait.

    Or we could just take fewer immigrants. Less is less. Its not rocket science.

    The carbon emmission performance of a potential immigrants late country should not be the key factor in immigrant selection. This is because the character and capabilities of the immigrant is more important to our future national interest (which is not solely dependent on the ecology) than his late countries carbon history.

    Personally, I think immigrants should be selected because they are fit, smart and nice. Whether they are black, white or brindle is irrelevant.

    More generally, RoW-wise, we should be focusing on sending our capital out rather than bringing their labour in. That is the clever country way to improve the economy, as we can see by those rottenly undiverse countries like Finland and Japan. (Who are also gơod ecological citizens to bơot.)

    And even more generally, we should be thinking smart about replacing biology with technology in most occupations. Importing or inventing ideas and gadgets.

    You are still dodging the qÆ°estion of how increasing our total immigration intake by around one million over the next thrêe years is going to help “slash Australia’s carbon emissions” as they say. Not to mention salvage the Murray Darling or stop state govts plonking down more coal generators or preserve some grêen and pleasant land on the urban fringe.

    I am going to keep hammering away at Cultural Left-liberal ecological delusionism as it amuses me and who knows one of them might tumble. I wont bother with their anthropological delusionism as they are obviously goners in that respect.

  18. jquiggin
    August 5th, 2008 at 21:23 | #18

    Jack, as has been pointed out about a dozen times already, what matters as far as the climate change problem is concerned is total global emissions. If someone moves from one country to another, but doesn’t change their consumption patterns, nothing changes.

    To be sure, this creates some difficulties for Australia’s negotiating position, but if you want to discuss this issue do so directly, instead of dragging red herrings into the debate.

  19. Jack Strocchi
    August 5th, 2008 at 21:25 | #19

    Ian Gould Says: August 5th, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Actually Jack the PRC’s emission growth is amongst the fastest in the world despite its one child policy.

    Actually Ian the PRC’s cumulative emission stock-to-current income level is amongst the lowest in the world. Probably because the rotten fascist govt forced through a massive hydro progam in the Thrêe Gorges area.

    Had the PRC continued on its Maoist population growth path its population would be about 300 million more. But for the one child policy the North polar ice cap would probably be a bunch of ice cubes by now.

    How typical of post-modern liberals to ignore or deride the one country which has at least had a crack at constraining its potential stock of AGW agents. Obviously paying homage to liberal shiboleths is more important than actually getting things done.

    Ian Gould says:

    It’s almost as though there were factors besides raw population growth at work.

    FWIW I have bÆ¡osted nuclear power for as long as I can remember. “Its almost as if” this carbon-diluted power source would be one of those “other factors besides raw population at work”. Except for those whose heads are stuffed with the embarassing dogmas left over from their post-seventies ideological “enthusiasms”.

  20. Jack Strocchi
    August 5th, 2008 at 21:41 | #20

    jquiggin Says: August 5th, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    Jack, as has been pointed out about a dozen times already, what matters as far as the climate change problem is concerned is total global emissions. If someone moves from one country to another, but doesn’t change their consumption patterns, nothing changes.

    But that ceteris is not likely to be paribus is it if immigrants come from low-GHG countries to a high GHG-country like AUS. That trade will worsen the net global carbon position. Its likely that immigrants will have higher than AUS average GHG-emissions owning to the carbon cost of forming new households.

    I must have pointed this out a “dozen times” or so but others kêep dragging in “red herrings”. Or dodging the question.

    Also AUS general ecological crisis will worsen since more people means more demand on water, land and energy of which we do not have enough of the right type. Immigration flows at the Evans extremist rates will smash these public gơods to billy-oh.

    Pr Q says:

    To be sure, this creates some difficulties for Australia’s negotiating position, but if you want to discuss this issue do so directly, instead of dragging red herrings into the debate.

    We are primarily responsible for our national emissions. These will increase in total if we increase our population at breakneck pace, one way or another. Our negotiating position would be better if we did not have this obsession with population gigantism, mainly to pad the Cultural Left’s political rolls and provide captive markets to the Commercial Right.

  21. August 5th, 2008 at 21:41 | #21

    I said:

    Strocchi just undermined his own “axiom�.

    And now Strocchi’s coming back with yet another “axiom”:

    “Its almost as if� this carbon-diluted power source would be one of those “other factors besides raw population at work�.

    Did Strocchi just say that China’s growth of “carbon-diluted” nuclear power is responsible for its rapid growth of carbon emissions?

    But who cares, anything that doesn’t make sense is OK… as long as it takes a swipe at “The *.* Left”.

    By the way, sign the petition. :)

  22. Jack Strocchi
    August 5th, 2008 at 21:46 | #22

    Ian Gould Says: August 5th, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    Just think how much more humanitarian again a few exemplary crucifixions would have been.

    Mandatory detention of most unauthorised arrivals is sufficient to deter some from probable drowning. That is humanitarian enough to satisfy me.

    It is also valid under international and national law. Including the law of the sainted Ruđd.

  23. observa
    August 5th, 2008 at 23:07 | #23

    While it’s true conservatives should be for environmental conservation, it’s also reasonable for conservatives to be wary of the grand plan and systemic failure, whatever the challenge. There is a clear tradeoff there but furthermore there is the question of having accepted some higher weighting for the former imperative, is the policy solution proposed, one that concurs with conservative principles? ie is it tried and true from experience? That then largely boils down to a choice between price or quantity measures and history points overwhelmingly to the success of the former, but that’s where left/greens become delusional. It then suits them to lump the resulting conservative critique with AGW denialism and skepticism. To point out the obvious fatal flaws in bureacratic, quantitative controls and their well intended consequences is akin to apostasy. You will be a true beliver Doctor Jones!

  24. Ian Gould
    August 6th, 2008 at 00:25 | #24

    Firstly Jack, suggesting you claiming a straight numeric link between population and greenhosue gas emssions was if any generous.

    There is in fact almost definitely an inverse relationship.

    That’s because around 1/3 of our greenhouse gas emissions can be linked to the substantially export-driven sectors such as agriculture and “land use change (i.e. land-clearing for agriculture)and a good proportion of our energy sector and transport sector emissiosn are also attributable to export-driven industries (such as aluminium and base metals) which are influenced far mroe by changes in aggregate world demand than by changes in the Australian population.

    http://www.climatechange.gov.au/inventory/2006/index.html

    Secondly, your claim that migrants will be mostly “living in the outer suburbs imposing more stress on the urban and natural environment” is simpyl wrong.

    The areas of Australia with the hgihest concentrations of migrants are typically inner or middle ring established suburbs.

    Most migrants aren’t buying McMansions on 4 acre blocks a two hour commute from the CBD by SUV becasue most migrants can’t afford to do so, even if they wanted to.

  25. stockingrate
    August 6th, 2008 at 01:58 | #25

    1. Rudd/Australia signed Kyoto without special pleading for Australian immigration. Immigration is adding to population now, reducing allowable per capital emissions and so increasing per capita costs of mitigation and increasing the risk of not reaching those targets.

    2.Ian Gould points out that our export industries are not driven by population growth – I largely agree – but this is a very good economic reason for restricting population growth: broadly speaking for Australia the greater the population the lower per capita exports. With depleting mineral resources, climate change harming agriculture, a large current account deficit, and the dollar and commodity prices starting to fall from their highs we will find the dilution of our exports among a larger population very painful.

    I’d also note the negative impact of population on exports as we “eat into” export industries in various ways eg building on the fine horticultural soils close to cities, consuming food, natural gas, coal etc.

  26. jquiggin
    August 6th, 2008 at 07:06 | #26

    #25.1 Actually, the Howard government did the special pleading on population growth back in 1997, which is why our Kyoto target was set at 108 per cent of 1990 emissions. Having done all this, they left it to Rudd to ratify 10 years later.

  27. Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer
    August 6th, 2008 at 08:35 | #27

    As layperson, Paul Kelly’s relating of this argument (ignore silly headline) for desirability of consumption tax over ETS – basically because a tax on consumption decreases our consumption of high emission products irrespective of where they are made (ie not just Australian ones) and doesn’t punish exports – makes sense. Can anyone tell me why it isn’t so?

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24134565-7583,00.html

  28. jquiggin
    August 6th, 2008 at 08:41 | #28

    You can either tax at the point of consumption or tax at the point of production. In the latter case, it makes sense to impose border taxes on imports from non-complying countries. The CFMEU put this line not long ago.

  29. Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer
    August 6th, 2008 at 10:10 | #29

    Thanks John. Such a ‘border tax’ doesn’t fall foul of GATT (or whatever it is these days) presumably.

    In any event, new tariffs seems unlikely …

  30. Ian Gould
    August 6th, 2008 at 10:24 | #30

    “a tax on consumption decreases our consumption of high emission products irrespective of where they are made (ie not just Australian ones) and doesn’t punish exports – makes sense. Can anyone tell me why it isn’t so?”

    Because prodcuts don;t break neatly into “high emission” and “low emission”.

    An Aluminium car part made from Australian Aluminium probably has several times the embodied emssions of oen made from Canadian Aluminium becasue the Canadians use Hydropower while we use coal.

    Now imagine a car imported from Japan incorporating both Canadian and Australian components.

    Now imagine the same model of car using the same components assembled in Thailand by the local subsidiary of the Japanese carmaker. Japanese factories are highyl automated and use lots of power (albeit much of it coems from nuclear sources) while Thai car factories use human labor for many of the jobs done by robots in Japan.

    Taxing the end product effectively removes most of comptetitive pressure on producers to minimise their emissions.

  31. jquiggin
    August 6th, 2008 at 11:52 | #31

    The GATT/WTO issue is an interesting one. It will certainly be fought pretty hard, but my guess is that WTO won’t be willing to stand in the way of action to stop climate change.

    In many ways, the central issue is whether the US joins an emissions trading scheme. If they do, and China (for example) stays out, the political pressure for compensating tariffs will be huge. Once Bush is gone, this will be a really big issue.

  32. Hermit
    August 6th, 2008 at 14:58 | #32

    Studies into the offshoring of emissions or ‘dirty deeds done dirt cheap’ have been unflattering; in the case of the UK
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7536124.stm
    Carbon tariffs will noticeably hurt both the consumer in the West and the factory worker in China. That is a lot more visible than pain to the supplier of intermediate inputs such as metals. Therefore like the vexing question of coal exports I alluded to earlier I doubt whether there will be quick action.

  33. Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer
    August 6th, 2008 at 15:57 | #33

    Could even give the US a reason to whack tariffs on Chinese imports.

  34. David
    August 6th, 2008 at 16:16 | #34

    Prof Q, you have more faith in the reasonableness of the WTO than I do. I reckon as soon as any country imposed a carbon tax on imports, the WTO would be shrieking “Tarrifs!!!!!11!” at about 4,000 dB.

  35. Hermit
    August 6th, 2008 at 17:37 | #35

    Studies by the University of York suggest emissions embodied in UK imports are far higher than expected
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7536124.stm
    A carbon tariff would hurt both the Western consumer and the Chinese factory worker. Their collective grief would outweigh the apparent disadvantage to suppliers of intermediate materials such as metals.

  36. August 6th, 2008 at 17:39 | #36

    wilful placed a link on the Monday Message Board to a ‘flood map’, where you can specify a sea level rise and get a Google style map of where gets flooded. It is interesting that I haven’t heard much from the owners of the Sydney or Brisbane’s airport about climate change when only a 1-2 meter sea level rise would lead to them getting flooded. Quite a few canal-style developments in the Gold Coast would also get flooded, which not only flood peoples homes, but also affect the price of their real estate. I haven’t heard much from property developers yet.

    If Greenland goes, then without significant adaptation measures we will lose the port infrastructure of every major Australian city, as well as quite a bit of transport infrastructure. At the moment these industries seem more concerned with the price of oil…

  37. hc
    August 6th, 2008 at 18:52 | #37

    John, I think you should tax production but rebate the tax on that fraction of output exported. This largely limits carbon leakage effects. Consumers bear the tax and there are no incentives to relocate business. Of course imports of the same outputs that are untaxed elsewhere should be subject to counterveiling duties.

    Taxing production but imposing counterveiling duties on imports alone from countries from non-complying countries encourages carbon leakage via the transfer of firms elsewhere. Firms will relocate to China for example which will export its outputs to countries which do not tax carbon.

  38. chrisl
    August 6th, 2008 at 19:40 | #38

    ” The only exceptions of whom I’m aware are Harry Clarke and Opinion Dominion.”
    With all due respect to Harry and OD, there does seem to be a lot of tumbleweeds blowing down the streets of their blogs.

  39. Iain
    August 6th, 2008 at 21:32 | #39

    “if immigrants come from low-GHG countries to a high GHG-country like AUS. That trade will worsen the net global carbon position.”

    Jack, the best way to (humanely) reduce population growth, according to the studies, is to empower women. This is far more likely to happen in the high GHG countries.

    You may want to factor that into your anti – immigration rhetoric.

  40. observa
    August 6th, 2008 at 23:20 | #40

    From the UK Telegraph-

    No reposting of articles from other sources is allowed, and comments consisting of random links of tangential to non-existent relevance are strongly discouraged – JQ

  41. John Mashey
    August 7th, 2008 at 09:40 | #41

    re: #37
    I can’t find the originalreference, but I recall:

    “Good birth control: teach girls calculus. It doesn’t work for boys.”

  42. observa
    August 7th, 2008 at 12:43 | #42

    My apologies John, I forgot the title was ‘Suppressed viewpoints on Climate Change’

  43. jquiggin
    August 7th, 2008 at 20:43 | #43

    As the post points out, Observa the delusionist viewpoint you seem keen to promote is grossly overexposed. Picking random links to the rightwing press that demonstrate the fact doesn’t seem to advance the debate.

    If your point was “delusionist pieces are published in the rightwing press every day” I don’t think we need examples to prove this.

  44. Chris O’Neill
    August 7th, 2008 at 22:09 | #44

    observa:

    While it’s true conservatives should be for environmental conservation,

    No, political conservatism has nothing to do with environmental conservation. Political conservatives like to leave political things the way they are, and if that includes, for example, allowing old growth forest logging to continue and greenhouse gas emissions to continue then the politically conservative thing to do is to not make any changes to those activities.

  45. Ian Gould
    August 7th, 2008 at 22:20 | #45

    Chris, that’s a short term and ungenerous view of conservatism.

    There’s a long tradition of intelligent far-sighted conservative leaders (such as Bob Menzies here in Australia) who recognise the need to reform particular institutions in order to maintain the existing oscial order.

    It’s a pity more of their modern counterparts lack their vision (althoguh I harbor hopes for Sarkozy and McCain.)

  46. observa
    August 8th, 2008 at 11:12 | #46

    “Observa the delusionist viewpoint you seem keen to promote is grossly overexposed. Picking random links to the rightwing press that demonstrate the fact doesn’t seem to advance the debate.”

    John, the news that one of the greatest climatological reference tools in British Naval archives(100000 naval logs) is just being analysed and after 6000 records have been examined by scientists and the Met which apparently questions AGW theory, is not overexposure I would have thought. Either that or this is old news I was not aware of. Ditto moss, etc under Antarctic ice which suggests Antarctica was like Arctic tundra some 14 mill yrs ago. Now climate science is in its infancy and it behoves all men of science to keep an open mind on new and challenging factual evidence.

    The eventual truth or not of AGW theory, I still contend that the current proposed ointment in international ETS is fatally flawed and environmentally counterproductive as just another incremental add-on to our current, flawed constitutional marketplace. That said I would argue that a shift to reliance on carbon taxing and resource taxing makes much sense, given our use of fossil fuels to plunder the natural environment for our wants. If we are to shift to doing much less of that then an ANWT makes sense, with relief via investment in natural environment, to give it countervailing market power against its development and continual destruction. Nothing I’ve heard about ETS does that, indeed quite the contrary with the incentives for ethanol, biodiesel production and the like.

    I also note that the current govt is now talking about total tax review, the mess it’s in and particularly the problem of relatively high company taxation. My blueprint has no company tax or income tax so I don’t have the problem they’ll have dropping company tax to say 15% or 20% to compete internationally. Do that in conjunction with high personal tax scales and every high wealth individual will be incorporating to buy/build their homes and rent them out to themselves, claiming all expenses from interest, rates, painting, lawnmowing, changing tap washers, etc, all with GST input tax credits. As if some are not doing that now along with other similar investment schemes. Then there is the obvious looming problem of SWFs buying up resource income streams. Cheaper coal for Chinese mills anyone? We need foresight and tax reform alright, but it must be with the intention of creating a constitutional marketplace that can move us forward on the overall environment front, rather than some ‘talk locally act globally’ nonsense, if the MDB vs AGW approaches are anything to judge us by nowadays. Skeptics of global ETs grand plans might sensibly ask of wall to wall Labor to test such salvation in our own backyard with water in the MDB for starters.

    Overall AGW fans need to be careful they have not found in CO2, their personal WMD, when the environmental beacon of light was their underlying motivation all along. Whack a thousand big emitters around the head with emissions permits and bobsyeruncle, it’s mission accomplished eh?

  47. Chris O’Neill
    August 9th, 2008 at 00:59 | #47

    dropping company tax to say 15% or 20% to compete internationally. Do that in conjunction with high personal tax scales and every high wealth individual will be incorporating to buy/build their homes and rent them out to themselves, claiming all expenses from interest, rates, painting, lawnmowing, changing tap washers, etc,

    This subject is off-topic but I just want to point out the limitations to the benefits of an individual incorporating as above. Such an individual still has to pay rent from their personal income on such a home and they don’t get the capital gains tax and state tax benefits of individual home ownership. As implied above, the benefit of incorporation occurs when someone wants to invest their income and doesn’t want to spend their income on personal expenditure straight away. In this case the company retains the earnings (paying company tax) and invests them.

    So the benefits of incorporation, while potentially substantial in some circumstances, may not be as much as some people imagine.

  48. Chris O’Neill
    August 9th, 2008 at 01:12 | #48

    Overall AGW fans

    “fans”. Not exactly the word I would have chosen.

    need to be careful they have not found in CO2, their personal WMD

    Rather ironic considering the dishonesty involved in both WMD and global warming denialism.

  49. observa
    August 9th, 2008 at 14:47 | #49

    I’m using ‘fans’ here in the sense that anyone who doesn’t accept the combined package of CO2 induced warming and international ETS is definitely a non-fan. I fall into the latter category on the ETS bit, but non-fans can include skeptics on the size and nature of CO2 link as well as those who question a mere ‘spit in the ocean’ warming trend altogether. At the risk of offending the host here, there is a neat analogy with Islam. Basically there are the true believers in the God of AGW and the word of the prophet Muhammed (Kyoto and ETS being their irrefutable Koran) whilst the rest are all infidels or non-believers. That leaves the odd Ahmaddiya like the Observa who believes that Muhammad wasn’t the only prophet and not all wisdom on AGW emanates from these noisy extollers of the Koran now. That’s a delicate place to be historically as even Christian Reformationists could attest. Besides, some of these infidels are people of the book too and as such have something pertinent to offer the true believers. Those same true believers who aren’t doing such a good job in the land where the three rivers meet anyway(the MDB) and perhaps they’d like to demonstrate their beliefs there for us all, before taking on the world with their particular vision of Paradise on earth.

    If you think cap and trade with MDB water is too hard, here’s the problem of the bigger picture in a nutshell-
    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/rss/eo20080807bc.html
    and a mere taste of the problems on the ground locally just contemplating it-
    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24146230-11949,00.html
    Basically the specific focus on production and particular producers rather than overarching price signals for all consumers will fail miserably and such fanatical concentration on the CO2 bogeyman excludes many other relevant environmental factors in the big picture. That’s where I think my type of blueprint for a changed CM is much more balanced environmentally, market sensible and administratively simpler than this singular, tacked on approach. My overarching position is that deep down we all know our whole material well-being hinges around fossil fuel use and what hope reducing the overall pie if we don’t seriously address shares? How on earth could we do that internationally without doing it locally first is my stance and hence that overall blueprint.

    As for ‘off topic’ company tax reform Chris, tax is intrinsically tied up in the big picture here. It sets the overarching constitution of our marketplace and those powerful price signals. I understand your point about the Company tax/ capital gains tradeoff, but is there really much true capital gains in house ownership if you take account of every cent of maintenance and ownership costs, particularly with GST input tax credits? I seriously doubt it unless you’re a whizz at picking the booms and busts of the RE cycle. I’d conclude progressive income tax is under threat from trying to compete internationally on lowering company tax.

  50. John Mashey
    August 9th, 2008 at 18:27 | #50

    re:
    “No reposting of articles from other sources is allowed, and comments consisting of random links of tangential to non-existent relevance are strongly discouraged – JQ”

    1) I occasionally point at your discussion rule page as a good model. SO:

    2) Maybe you’ll consider adding such rules to that page as they come up, so they are all in one palce for reference.

  51. jquiggin
    August 9th, 2008 at 20:36 | #51

    #49 For heaven’s sake, observa, read the post. You’re not a brave heretic as you present yourself. You’re following, sheeplike, the opinions on scientific issues ladled out to you by politically likeminded pundits. This is about as sensible as taking your political views from your favorite actor or popstar.

  52. Ian Gould
    August 9th, 2008 at 21:19 | #52

    Observa, meaningful water trading on the Murray Darling was blocked for a decade by the same economic troglodyte who blocked emissiosn trading – the same guy who keep tryign to canonise.

    The most bizarre aspect of this is that since Labor was elcted you’ve been screaming hysterically for them to start buying water permits – which is now happening. )Althoguh oddly you never seemed to criticise Howard for failing to do so.)

    This is the epitome of a Coasian appraoch to resource management.

    The fact that you don’t seem to grasp this together with your blatant partisan bias leads me to conclude youi haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about.

  53. Ian Gould
    August 9th, 2008 at 21:31 | #53

    How about link to a directly relevant story:

    “AS THE Bush administration enters its final months, the US Climate Change Science Program has issued a report concluding that computer models do effectively simulate climate. It also accepts that the models show human activity was responsible for the rapid warming of the 20th century.

    The report is the 10th of 21 due to be issued by the body, which the sceptical Bush administration set up late in 2002 to review the validity of climate-change science before making policy decisions. At the time, environmentalists accused the administration of using the programme as a way to drag its feet on the issue.

    The evidence is pretty convincing that the models give a good simulation of climate,” lead author David Bader of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California told reporters last week. He concedes that the report did not examine predictions of future climate change. Nor did it address policy issues, which will be left to the next administration.”

    http://environment.newscientist.com/article/mg19926683.300-humans-cause-climate-change-us-body-accepts.html?DCMP=ILC-hmts&nsref=news5_head_mg19926683.300

    Got that, Observa? The group set up by the denailosts in the Republican Party to try and pick holes in the climate science couldn’t find any.

    I guess that’s becasue they used actual science not conspiracy theories and half-witted flourishing of any popular press article which could kinda-sort be interpretted to contradict the science if you looked at it just right.

  54. observa
    August 10th, 2008 at 12:23 | #54

    My overall point is, even if we all accept CO2 based AGW as gospel, the current conventional wisdom of an international ETS antidote is flawed beyond redemption. For starters the jurisdictional problems dwarf that of the MDB, which has the best jurisdictional scenario right now and yet with all that where is the future? I’m certainly not canonising past Govts for their inaction on the MDB, but simply asking those who talked big, to walk their talk now. They have the undying faith in cap and trade policy, so show us the proof domestically. Having said that I’m no fan of that approach you’ll notice, because I’m advocating resource taxing generally and if that were the case, we’ve seen how a resource tax of say 3-5c/Kl on water would likely wipe out the profitability of rice, cotton and flood irrigation pasture. A gradual shift to increased resource taxing would achieve the required direction, just as we’ve seen the recent results with rising market prices for oil. To get the resource price shifts we need to impact fairly and evenly on all users, we will have to lower other forms of taxation and if the carbon taxing in particular is to really bite and consequently lower our material use of the environment, then shares will have to be an important consideration. Hence my take on the imperative for an ANWT with sanctuary for holding it in natural environmental form for all, now and for the future. ie Gaia’s countervailing market power cf your ETS incentive to bowl it over for ethanol and biodiesel you well intentioned dummies.

    When you think about having to reduce other forms of taxes to increase resource taxing then naturally you have to turn your thoughts to all the current negatives. That’s why I say ditch them all, particularly income and company tax to maximise the price of plundering new resources. We’ve all seen the problems of housing affordability with the current income tax mess. The looming threat of SWFs and transfer pricing with our natural resources? Income tax avoidance and evasion and at the risk of offending you all with another link, what about that neutrality problem folks? http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24086963-601,00.html
    all of which my reform blueprint has licked you’ll notice, but feel free to critique it and improve upon it. What about your international ETS add-on eh? You know, the incremental add-on that hasn’t worked so far, but just as soon as we can get it right and set an exemplar for all those Chinese and Indians, etc. Yeah, riiiiight! Tell it to the grandkids, along with that epic tale about how you cap and traded water in the MDB.

    Meanwhile back in Oz we have the Govt recognisising the need to reduce company tax. How on earth could you do that without dropping income tax scales? We’ve all seen how negative gearing and capital gains tax interacts to produce that housing affordability problem and now our govt wants to subsidise landlords to ameliorate that. You know it makes sense folks! Reduce company tax with those high personal MTRs and what will result? Well it will be like the Hilton hotel chain. Everything from the wages of the cleaners to their CF globes, tap washers, gardeners, etc is all tax deductible anf GST input tax credited. Notice the same could apply to the family company with the family home for high nett wealth taxpayers. The family biz company buys the few million dollar home with the interest deductible, along with the rates, insurance, window and pool cleaner, the tennis court and grounds maintenance, painter, CF globes and tap washers, so long as the family supposedly pay ‘arms length’ market rates, so as not to fall foul of fringe benefits taxes. Now that will no doubt be on the low side of the market rates spectrum and as all the residents of Kew, North Shore, etc do same, what will happen to market rates of all these mansions? Look Mr ATO assessor, ask all my neighbours in the street what market rents they’re paying and you’ll easily see my McMansion rent is arms length too and I’ve got all the receipts for the expenses. More of the same and you can’t touch any real capital gain until they sell, which is another huge problem with sticky capital nowadays, with stamp duty tacked on the sale for good measure. All this and I’m supposed to believe in racing off to join the vision splendid, grand plan to save the planet from a fate worse than starvation. I’m not buying such Utopian, diversionary nonsense.

  55. August 28th, 2008 at 15:57 | #55

    Tony Jones and Andrew Bolt should quit playing around and just start a program together and hasn’t Andrew’s profile soared simply by saying “nay”

  56. scott
    August 28th, 2008 at 21:14 | #56

    My overall point is, even if we all accept CO2 based AGW as gospel, the current conventional wisdom of an international ETS antidote is flawed beyond redemption.

    I thought the idea behind an ETS was domestic, not international. ie make your national industry so averse to the idea of emitting that they give up emitting altogether.

    If this is the case, I guess it highlights the importance of a cost effective design and administration, as really the ETS achieves nothing in itself but a deterrence.

    I suppose there is the possibility an ETS might have role to play in diverting revenue to people and industry that could use it positively, but I think I agree with you observa that this type of design is pretty open to be pilfered.

    This is why I asked JQ once on here what his thoughts were on “offset” payments as a feature of an ETS (I never got a reply). If people really could take carbon out of the atmosphere for a price, what would a successful business model look like?

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