Home > Environment > Condemned by history

Condemned by history

July 17th, 2014

So, after some farcical manoeuvres, the Senate has passed Abbott’s legislation removing the carbon price. I hope and believe that this outcome will be reversed in due course, but those who brought it about will stand condemned by history.

It’s not merely that this is a bad policy, which will impose large and increasing costs (depending on how long it takes us to get back on track) on Australia and the world into the future. Even more damning is the fact that this action is entirely based on conscious lies, embraced or condoned by everyone who has actively supported it.

First, and most obvious, no one (least of all Tony Abbott) believes that the government’s “Direct Action” policy is a superior alternative to the carbon price, one that will deliver emissions reductions more rapidly and at lower costs. It is, as everyone knows, a cynical ploy put forward simply to allow the government to say that it has a policy.

In reality, Abbott and the rest want to do nothing, and the motives for this desire are entirely base. For a minority of the do-nothing group, it is simply a matter of financial self-interest associated with the fossil fuel industry. For the majority, however, it is the pursuit of a tribal and ideological vendetta. Their position is driven by Culture War animosity towards greens, scientists, do-gooders and so on, or by ideological commitment to a conservative/libertarian position that would be undermined by the recognition of a global problem that can only be fixed by changes to existing structures of property rights.

Most of these people would describe themselves as climate “sceptics”. There is no such thing. That is, there is no one anywhere who has honestly examined the evidence, without wishful thinking based on ideological or cultural preconceptions, and concluded that mainstream science is wrong. Most “sceptics”, including the majority of supporters of the conservative parties, are simply credulous believers in what their opinion leaders are telling them. Those opinion leaders are engaged, not in an attempt to determine the truth, but in a cultural vendetta against their enemies or in an ideologically-driven attempt to justify a predetermined do-nothing position.

This is a sad day, but one that will come back to haunt those who have brought it about.

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  1. Tony Lynch
    July 17th, 2014 at 15:13 | #1

    I am ashamed for my country.

  2. Pete Moran
    July 17th, 2014 at 15:22 | #2

    I watched it all unfold.

    The Senate is truly terrifying at the moment. Lambie particularly.

  3. Megan
    July 17th, 2014 at 15:37 | #3

    I maintain that this, along with everything else Abbott has done and will do, is the ALP’s fault.

    If they hadn’t “lurched to the right” and deliberately made themselves unelectable we wouldn’t have this government.

  4. Michael
    July 17th, 2014 at 15:42 | #4

    I wonder when the penny will drop that it was indifference that brought this retrograde move about rather than widespread support for reality denial in the electorate. Are there any grown ups in the Coalition?

  5. Michael
    July 17th, 2014 at 15:44 | #5

    @Megan
    That’s a strange perspective. The ALP deserves some blame, but nobody was forced to vote for the coalition and there are alternatives to Labor.

  6. Ikonoclast
    July 17th, 2014 at 15:46 | #6

    I agree with all your main points, JQ. However, I tend to think that “tribalism” in this case operates more as a post hoc justification and projection.

    In other words, the conservatives are effectively saying “We want to plunder and degrade the environment without let or hindrance. People who mention the environment can stir latent guilt and even fear in us which we hate even beginning to feel. So we transfer that hate on to them, on to the messengers ie. the Greens, the scientists and so on.”

    As well as post hoc justification, hating and rejecting Greens, scientists etc. provides post hoc “lock-stepping” for want of a better term. It helps to make sure all the conservatives are in ideological lock-step and formation alignment. The purposes of lock-step and formation alignment include the attempted insulation of the individual from personal fear and turning him/her into a kind of automaton conditioned to follow the mass doctrine.

    So I am saying that the hating of Greens etc. does not come from nowhere but in fact from the suppressed fear that they (the Greens etc.) might actually be right. That fear must be sublimated into hate of those who might be right after all and also into rigid conformity to conservative doctrine. Only by rigidly and blindly conforming to dogma can people stop the annoying intrusion of reason and logic which question that very dogma.

  7. July 17th, 2014 at 15:46 | #7

    Well I guess there is something in what you say, Megan, but really in this case, I think there is, for once, a fairly clear villain. Tony Abbott lied and lied to the Australian people.

    I read a sad comment on the Guardian:

    I’m very sad. It was working! The whole argument was that it wasn’t and then all this evidence about large amounts of emissions being reduced turned up.

    Anyone who followed the evidence, like me, knew that it was working from quite soon after it was introduced. The Labor government was too busy fighting its internal enemies, particularly Rudd (with the misguided support of many on this site) to get that message out. And those who could have been getting the information out – this blog being an example, or the Fairfax papers, say – were also too consumed in ‘hating Julia Gillard’ to do so. It’s all very sad, but the key villain still remains Abbott. He really has lied to the people.

  8. Michael
    July 17th, 2014 at 15:50 | #8

    JQ,

    Agree, except for one point.

    ‘They’ won’t be haunted by this decision – they couldn’t give a rats- it’s the rest of us who will be.

  9. Hermit
    July 17th, 2014 at 16:04 | #9

    @Pete Moran
    I wonder if Lambie has scuttled her new career the first week in the job. Tasmania was said to benefit from carbon tax to the tune of anything from $80m-$200m a year. If Direct Action actually gets off the ground you’d also think there would be carbon credits for forest preservation which Abbott doesn’t support. If things are weird today they can only get weirder.

  10. Pete Moran
    July 17th, 2014 at 16:08 | #10

    For those that wonder about the culpability of Labor in this mess, I give you Martin ‘Fossil’ Ferguson.

  11. Disenfranchised
    July 17th, 2014 at 16:12 | #11

    I assume JQ you were not at the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of The Australian. In his speech Rupert told us ‘climate changes all the time’ , that ‘Antarctic sea ice is expanding’, and ‘if the Maldives goes under so what. People might have to move.’ On this morning’s news I hear News Limited wants to take over Warner. Which would see Murdoch control Fox and CNN. I fear we are on the cusp of another Dark Age.

  12. July 17th, 2014 at 16:17 | #12

    In fairness I should add to my above comment that, while it had been evident for some time that emissions from the electricity sector were declining, that had started before the carbon price was introduced and at the time of the last election there hadn’t been (as far as I know) any detailed analysis of how much the carbon price was contributing to that.

    However I still think there were many people like that commenter at the Guardian I quoted, who didn’t even know that the combined effect of the RET and carbon price appeared to be working in the electricity sector. I still think if the broad left hadn’t been so busy fighting amongst itself, that message could have got out a lot better.

    Re Marn Ferguson – yeah he is an exhibit for Megan’s thesis all right.

    Btw, does anyone know who were the two Labor Senators who apparently weren’t in the Senate to vote today? Not that their votes would have made any difference, but it would be interesting to know who they were and why they didn’t vote.

  13. July 17th, 2014 at 16:28 | #13

    actually it seems there were three Labor Senators who didn’t vote on the carbon price repeal. Seems so odd. Why?

    Nick Xenophon was ill and had a tie from the Coalition – presumably he was going to vote against repeal then?

  14. July 17th, 2014 at 16:32 | #14

    So here’s the latest analysis of the carbon price impact from the ANU, via the Age (not paywalled)

    confirming that it was working – damn those fools and liars

    http://www.theage.com.au/environment/climate-change/carbon-price-helped-curb-emissions-anu-study-finds-20140717-ztuf6.html

  15. RussellW
    July 17th, 2014 at 16:38 | #15

    To many voters, the repeal of the carbon tax means a reduction in electricity prices—another promise that the Coalition can’t keep, perhaps they actually believe their own propaganda.

  16. RussellW
    July 17th, 2014 at 16:47 | #16

    Megan,

    I agree that we really don’t have a Labor Party currently, however the fact that the country is in the hands of neo-liberal ideologues is entirely the voters’ fault. Blame compulsory voting, or that the popular media is mostly under Murdoch’s control, but don’t blame the ALP.

  17. Will
    July 17th, 2014 at 16:52 | #17

    If there is blame to be shared around for this decision, a fair slice must go to the Greens. A Green party voting against an ETS should not be forgiven lightly.

  18. Mr Denmore
    July 17th, 2014 at 17:00 | #18

    The greatest irony is Australia is stepping backwards as the rest of the world moves forward on practical action to slow climate change. With Murdoch media so dominant here and the political institutions now almost entirely captured by the fossil fuel industry, Australia has become an ideal incubator for the denialists’ stalling and obstructionism.

    Our recalcitrance is now being increasingly noticed by international publications like Bloomberg. We’ve become a fringe hellhole of nutjobs and wreckers.

    I can’t imagine how this ends. Presumably the ALP will do its usual thing and go further into its shell over the ETS. With the Murdoch press and commercial radio and television continuing to publish outright lies (and a cowed ABC bowing to fake balance), it’s hard to see a mainstream political party succeeding in dragging the debate back toward reason.

  19. Fran Barlow
    July 17th, 2014 at 17:03 | #19

    I can’t disagree with anything important in your OP John, though like Michael above, I doubt this decision will in any meaningful sense, haunt them. They have nothing like an ethical compass and the dissonance is strong with them. We have seen it from the outset on not only this area of policy but public policy more generally. A gang of reckless louts have acquired control of public policy. They don’t care what happens to anyone. Indeed, I’m not even sure they care that much about themselves. They are just seeing how long they can get away with it, like any criminal gang.

    With some serious semantic fudging their claim that “Direct Action” can deliver lowest cost abatement is arguable. If they cap the budget for DAP at $3.2bn then that’s what abatement costs. If that’s less than the other side would have spent then it’s cheaper. Those who care about the policy will point out that the 5% can’t be realised at that cost and that per tonne ob abatement the cost is much higher but these are mere trifles for those who argue abatement is the worst thing that could ever happen to Australia. They didn’t want it, and so paying as little as possible and getting a lot less makes perverse sense.

  20. John Quiggin
    July 17th, 2014 at 17:04 | #20

    @Pete Moran

    No argument from me on Ferguson. For the rest, Labor and the Greens made some poor tactical choices, but Val is right. The overwhelming blame here lies with Abbott and his supporters.

  21. Fran Barlow
    July 17th, 2014 at 17:04 | #21

    @Will

    Ah … I wondered how long it would be before someone urged that zombie argument to again stalk the streets.

  22. derrida derider
    July 17th, 2014 at 17:12 | #22

    @Disenfranchised
    Don’t worry so much, disenfranchised. Rupert is very old and his kids are far more interested in making a quid than in choosing politicians. The Australian in particular is Rupert’s vanity publication – it is unlikely to have a 60th anniversary.

  23. rog
    July 17th, 2014 at 17:17 | #23

    @Megan No way Megan, this repeal is owned 100% by the LNP. Both Turnbull and Abbott can be quoted as authorities on climate change. The ALP can grow a backbone and make the next election a vote on an ETS and a vote on who owns their media.

  24. Royce Arriso
    July 17th, 2014 at 17:20 | #24

    Highly plausible, Ikonoklast. Bit of a Damascene moment, actually. Cheers, RA

  25. July 17th, 2014 at 17:20 | #25

    Mr Denmore: The time for the ALP to cave on anything Carbon Tax would have been in 2013 – just after the election. They didn’t then, and they would have less reason to do so now.

    Fran: it is indeed a “zombie argument”. There have been times I reckon the Greens should create a flowchart in PDF form rebutting all the variations in that dispute.

  26. rog
    July 17th, 2014 at 17:22 | #26

    @derrida derider I wouldn’t be laying bets on Murdochs longevity he could still have another ten years or more of active life and outlive his opponents.

  27. rog
    July 17th, 2014 at 17:30 | #27

    @Hermit Oddly enough Abbott is pushing for more forestry in Tas while tree planting in other areas to gain carbon credentials. Of course Tas could push for
    Special Economic Zone status, just like the deep north.

  28. derrida derider
    July 17th, 2014 at 17:34 | #28

    This is a sad day, but one that will come back to haunt those who have brought it about.

    Actually that could be sooner than they expect.

    As I’ve said elsewhere it is silly to take individual weather or seasonal events as proof or disproof of AGW – but that is not the way lots of voters think. For lots of people a cool wet winter disproves AGW, but conversely a bushfire summer means AGW is an emergency we need to fix now; its no coincidence that the push for an ETS in Australia only got momentum in the Millenium Drought.

    But the BoM say an El Nino is currently forming …

  29. Midrash
    July 17th, 2014 at 17:50 | #29

    As one who supported a carbon tax, albeit a better designed one as part of a better package I can fairly claim more objectivity than most.
    I know that Prof Q is saying more than he knows in his characterisation of the “sceptics” and so I wonder about others of his assertions, e.g. in saying that “it will impose large and increasing costs on Australia”. I am all in favour of solar in its several forms taking over from coal fast enough to cost the power companies a lot of money but can’t see the force of Prof Q’s assertion about costs.

    As it happens I have just noted that a friend had cause to retract a criticism he had made of a leading sceptical scientist because he had foolishly accepted that someone who believed George Monbiot was honest and competent in his criticism of Prof Ian Plimer was correct. In fact the truth was, as the relevant transcript clearly showed that Monbiot had displayed the only skills he had – being entirely innocent of any scientific knowledge – which were those of the typically offensive and assertive London journalist. He totally failed to understand what Plimer was saying while he kept on arrogantly insisting that Plimer answer questions as framed by him. Accordingly it was he, who had accused Plimer if lying and obfuscating who was shown to be objectively ununterested in the truth. (FWIW one of the points was about the contribution of volcanoes to total CO2 emissions. He simply wouldn’t listen to Plimer explaining the method of calculation he used). Another seriously dishonest campaigner for the alarmist view was just about the first Amazon reviewer of Donna LaFramboise’s devastating attack on the IPCC. He was someone whose livelihood depended on the AGW problem having more money thrown at it and attacked the book with false statements about it: I knew because I had read it.

    That just adds to my strong perception that few of the intelligent critics of the more alarmist views about AGW bear any relation to Prof Q’s characterisation of them. Some of them would know a lot more relevant science than he and none that I know have any material stake in the outcome. As to the airy-fairy cultural explanations for some of these people not agreeing with Prof Q they are about as valid as the cod-Freudian explanations you might hear about your least favourite politician after a liquid lunch in the Staff Club.

    You, JQ, have opened yourself up to cross-examination with

    I

  30. Hermit
    July 17th, 2014 at 17:58 | #30

    BoM are predicting El Nino-lite. I think the east Australian winter will be 1-2C above normal notwithstanding frosty Brisbane mornings and lost snowboarders. Perhaps creeping arthritis is making us all feel cold. Even if this summer is not a shocker there will still be melting glaciers elsewhere and lack of promised price reductions at home. I also suspect like cave persons slaying a mammoth the LNP will become boorishly over bold and it will backfire.

    I take it c.t. compensation via income tax cuts and welfare increases remains in place. That means Hockey is yet to do a dummy spit.

  31. Midrash
    July 17th, 2014 at 18:10 | #31

    …with statements like “no one anywhere who has honestly examined the evidence…. and concluded that the mainstream science is wrong”. It’s not just your knowledge of the “sceptics” with superior scientific qualifications (vastly superior let it be clear to those of Tim Flannery) like Lindzen if you think you know better than Plimer or Carter, it is your own acquaintance with the relevant science. Have you examined all those different models the IPCC relies on? Why do the differ? How complete (and backed by empirical data) is their inclusion of all the natural forces? Would their models have predicted the great climate changes of the past – even just the Holocene? Mini Ice Ages, Warm Periods, Swiss Alps without glaciers, collapse of civilisations in India and Egypt, drying up of the Great Lakes….. Tell me you have actually done serious intellectual work on the possible weaknesses of all these (taxpayer-funded) models that “prove” QED.

  32. rog
    July 17th, 2014 at 18:13 | #32

    @Hermit BOM don’t predict anything, they only report on the indications

    While the majority of climate models suggest El Niño remains likely for the spring of 2014, most have eased their predicted strength. If an El Niño were to occur, it is increasingly unlikely to be a strong event.

  33. rog
    July 17th, 2014 at 18:15 | #33

    @Midrash

    I can fairly claim more objectivity than most.

  34. rog
    July 17th, 2014 at 18:19 | #34

    @derrida derider

    But the BoM say an El Nino is currently forming …

    This becomes like ping pong using localised weather events to prove a point. Nobody wins everybody loses.

  35. Peter Chapman
    July 17th, 2014 at 18:37 | #35

    In my assessment, faced with evidence that (a) the carbon tax was working and (b) the flow on price impacts were minimal (and certainly unlikely to result in everyone being $550 better off from tomorrow, as claimed), Abbott and Hunt fall back on: “The tax had to go because business didn’t want it”. The dilemma for the government is that business, which they regard as the repository of reason and rational calculation, is now shown up as hollow. Not only did the carbon tax have relatively little adverse impact on business, the absence of a carbon tax “or reasonable alternative” may now disadvantage Australian business in international markets. The basis of reason has dissolved, and in the vacuum a new irrationality has emerged. In simpler terms perhaps, the proboscis has been amputated to spite the face. Meanwhile, the government has made the solution disappear, but it has not been able to make the problem disappear. What kind of magic is that?

  36. John Quiggin
    July 17th, 2014 at 18:40 | #36

    ” Tell me you have actually done serious intellectual work on the possible weaknesses of all these (taxpayer-funded) models that “prove” QED.”

    That parenthetical addition is, as Dennis the Peasant would say, a dead giveaway.

  37. rog
    July 17th, 2014 at 18:44 | #37

    @Peter Chapman Yes but not all business was against the carbon tax.

    Richard Goyder from Wesfarmers spoke recently on ABC RN and said that they ie WES were acting on climate change irrespective of govt policy and generally what business wanted was certainty.

  38. John Quiggin
    July 17th, 2014 at 18:48 | #38

    Responding more substantively, no scientific knowledge at all is needed to see that Plimer is full of it, and Monbiot does a fine job in demonstrating this. Even when Plimer was on the right side, in the creation vs evolution debate, his obvious dishonesty and incompetence was an embarrassment to the team.
    https://cs.uwaterloo.ca/~shallit/plimer.html

    The fact that you can even claim to believe him shows that you are either a liar or a fool (more likely both, in the sense that your eagerness to believe your side is right more than offsets your native intelligence)

    Regarding serious intellectual work, I have more than enough statistical expertise to show that Lindzen is lying, and have done so

    http://johnquiggin.com/2010/03/03/lindzen-and-no-statistically-significant-warming-since-1995/

    Lindzen’s flim-flam is enough to fool people like yourself who are both eager to be deceived and ignorant of basic statistics. But anyone who has passed first year stats, and doesn’t have a dog in the fight can see the trick.

  39. Newtownian
    July 17th, 2014 at 18:58 | #39

    @Mr Denmore
    “The greatest irony is Australia is stepping backwards as the rest of the world moves forward on practical action to slow climate change. With Murdoch media so dominant here and the political institutions now almost entirely captured by the fossil fuel industry, Australia has become an ideal incubator for the denialists’ stalling and obstructionism. ”

    For the life of me John I cant get upset about this – not because of denialism or that I wouldn’t love to throttle Abbott for all the good works he had trashed. Its because this is only one of the 600 lb environmental gorillas currently rampaging through the sustainability forest propelled by the logic of economics be it mainstreet or finance capitalism – or even socialism (its interesting to read what vandalism the Soviets dreamed of in their heyday of the 1920s).

    What we have seen was probably inevitable – if not trashing of the carbon tax then corruption of the trading system as has happened in Europe and elsewhere where the price is stopped from rising by vested interest and the only profit is to the banks and the energy company offenders.

    For me what is not being addressed in this economic trading model now rejected, is the much more serious need to stop material growth and figure out equitable husbandry of the planet’s very limited resources. But as evidenced by Rio20+ and its oxymoronic Green Growth, this is not about to happen. Rather all and sundry seem to be continuing with that great catchcry of ‘progress’ “Homo uber alles” – as though we and our antics are the most important thing in the world and somehow the rest of the planet is there for our exploitation rather than us being here temporarily due to a accident of evolution.

    As a result I think oddly, that ‘Direct Action’ may be the only way forward – if done in good faith unlike current reality. However the likelihood of this is small as neither tweedledee (the coalition), tweedledum (Labor) nor tweedledummer (the Greens – tendence’ career) are prepared to flag let alone introduce compulsion on the scale needed i.e. World War 2 – yet. In any case they don’t run the economy/country which calls the tunes and will have even less power after the TPP is passed. Finance capital and its allies run the country but serious Direct Action I suspect offers nothing for them in the way of a percentage.

    Here is a nice illustration of what probably would have happened in my opinion – again – http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/industry-dominates-emissions-taskforce/2006/12/10/1165685553929.html

    I realize you have put a lot of heart into promoting carbon trading via the climate change authority which was doing much other good work as well. But perhaps its time to ask whether economics in its current form does not show the way any more than religion did during the Renaissance. Rather than being a true science it seems to me to have been by in large transformed into an intellectual edifice designed to justify to the powerful their wealth and privilege. And so was doomed to fail. And until that changes climate change efforts will be perhaps just a tad quixotic. Your book wasn’t well named Zombie Economics for nothing.

  40. Fran Barlow
    July 17th, 2014 at 19:01 | #40

    One of the sadder aspects of today’s events is that we will never see those $100 legs of lamb of which Barnaby Joyce soke so passionately, with the result that a whole bunch more sheep will be slaughtered. Speaking as a vegetarian, I am disappointed.

    ;-)

    On the positive side, towns like Whyalla, Wollongong and Gladstone that were wiped off the map can now be rebuilt with the money the government saved from today’s measures.

    Hmmm

  41. iain
    July 17th, 2014 at 19:04 | #41

    The major problem, I have, with that ANU paper is that it is only looking at part of the emissions covered by the scheme. As the scheme doesn’t even cover all direct emissions, let alone scope 3 emissions, it is almost impossible to tell what the impact was overall, just by looking at this paper.

    Almost certainly, emissions (across all scopes) increased during the pricing period.

  42. Peter Chapman
    July 17th, 2014 at 19:28 | #42

    @rog And should I laugh or should I cry, have just seen news of the share price impact on AGL… down, after they announced a drop in profit expectations following the repeal…

  43. Ikonoclast
    July 17th, 2014 at 19:38 | #43

    @Fran Barlow

    Ah, but Barnaby Joyce holds that a single cold winter’s day in Canberra disproves global warming. He said as much on this evening’s ABC News. What an intellectual giant the man is! Don’t you feel secure knowing such giants of intellect as Barnaby Joyce and giants of morality like Tony Abbott are running the country? Not to mention that giant of economics, Joe Hockey.

  44. July 17th, 2014 at 20:22 | #44

    @Peter Murphy
    I have seen that “attack the Greens” response in quite a few places now, it’s definitely a “line”. I wrote to my local fed MP Kelvin Thomson at a time when it appeared Labor might go woolly on an ETS, to urge them to stand strong, and guess what – I got a response blaming the Greens for all the problems.

    To which I replied (somewhat more politely) don’t be ridiculous and focus on the real enemy.

    I guess if Labor people have to stop attacking each other, attacking the Greens is the next best thing!

    (In this area actually there is a political motivation, because they are likely to lose seats to the Greens in the upcoming state election – still a stupid tactic though.)

  45. July 17th, 2014 at 20:28 | #45

    @iain
    Iain you can look at the Greenhouse reports (google Australia Greenhouse gas reports) for this information – yes I think for most of the reporting period emissions did continue to rise, but much of the rise was offset by decline in electricity – to the extent that it was close to neutral in the 2012-13 year I think (from memory, but you can check).

    That’s why I always say the clean energy futures package was only a start – there was more to be done – but it worked in the area it was primarily aimed at.

  46. July 17th, 2014 at 20:30 | #46

    Decline in emissions from the electricity sector, I mean

  47. sunshine
    July 17th, 2014 at 20:41 | #47

    Logically the Coalitions (and all the rest of the deniers) course of action should end sometime with them owning up to having made a monumental blunder of historic proportions. The only recent blunder anywhere near this scale is deciding to saddle up and ride to war with the US in the Middle East ,but that is a bi-partisan blunder still not universally recognised as a blunder. Science should be right again and it is only a matter of time. Its hard for me to see how those responsible could salvage anything from the wreckage of their credibility. There are going to be alot of destroyed careers and institutions world wide .Please, they cant survive it can they?. There is justice in the universe isnt there ?

  48. Megan
    July 17th, 2014 at 20:54 | #48

    Meanwhile….

    The ALP and the LNP just voted together in the Senate to ensure that there would be no oversight or scrutiny of the new ASIO powers.

    We are governed by a neo-con duopoly.

  49. sunshine
    July 17th, 2014 at 21:08 | #49

    @Megan
    We have so enraged the Muslim world that we will now allow our overlords to do anything to protect us -we made ourselves a target .Now they just run the line that ‘those irrational savages have forced this growing list of unpleasant measures upon the innocent, rational, civilised world’.

  50. Megan
    July 17th, 2014 at 21:39 | #50

    @sunshine

    Perhaps, but it was the fact that Labor and Liberal are indistinguishable on serious issues that I was highlighting.

    The media almost never reports on matters that I consider controversial when the ALP/LNP duopoly are both in favour of the same outcome/result.

  51. alfred venison
    July 17th, 2014 at 21:49 | #51

    “we made ourselves a target’. i didn’t make myself a target, i was made into target by racketeers who now offer to protect me from the people they stirred up by curtailing my ancient liberties; its a con by warmongers & their lackeys. -a.v.

  52. Alphonse
    July 17th, 2014 at 22:07 | #52

    It’s a small step from ‘politics is about righting the ship’ to ‘my politics is whatever opposes what most annoys me’. Too many people are annoyed by tax bills, fumbling bureaucracy, infringement of liberties, earnest ‘do gooders’, scientific and macroeconomic denial of ‘common sense’, ‘elitists’, etc. Yes JQ, they do go tribal and there was enough interested big money and media, and more than enough ALP ineptitude and disarray to lump greenhouse abatement in with those other objects of gripe.

    The way out? Sadly, it doesn’t just mean respect for truth fairness and rationality. It can’t just be educational. It means banging about what is most annoying about the Right in a most unseemly populist manner. The 7 odd percent post election swing reflects no resurgence of truth fairness and rationality; merely a recognition of naked display of its opposite.

  53. Collin Street
    July 17th, 2014 at 22:24 | #53

    Perhaps, but it was the fact that Labor and Liberal are indistinguishable on serious issues that I was highlighting.

    They really aren’t, though. The ALP does horrible things and the coalition does horrible things stupidly.

  54. ZM
    July 17th, 2014 at 22:54 | #54

    Newtonian,

    “Rather all and sundry seem to be continuing with that great catchcry of ‘progress’ “Homo uber alles” – as though we and our antics are the most important thing in the world and somehow the rest of the planet is there for our exploitation rather than us being here temporarily due to a accident of evolution.”

    This and the OP on ‘climate skeptics’ are to me reminiscent of Montaigne’s essay on skepticism, natural philosophy, and grace [christian or other I suppose now - not sure what a non-religious word for Grace is?] , An Apology for Raymond Sebond

    “‘Oh, what a vile and abject thing is man (saith he) unlesse he raise himselfe above humanity!’ Observe here a notable speech and a profitable desire; but likewise absurd. For to make the handfull greater than the hand, and the embraced greater than the arme, and to hope to straddle more than our legs length, is impossible and monstrous: nor that man should mount over and above himselfe or humanity; for he cannot see but with his owne eyes, nor take hold but with his owne armes. He shall raise himself up, if it please God to lend him his helping hand. He may elevate himselfe by forsaking and renouncing his owne meanes, and suffering himselfe to be elevated and raised by meere heavenly meanes. It is for our Christian faith, not for his Stoicke vertue, to pretend or aspire to this divine Metamorphosis, or miraculous transmutation.”

    Montaigne, translated by John Florio
    http://pages.uoregon.edu/rbear/montaigne/2xii.htm

  55. Watkin Tench
    July 17th, 2014 at 23:26 | #55

    With the post-budget polls consistently giving the ALP an election winning lead, I’m not sure this set back is worth getting too worked up about. Thankfully Shorten/Plibersek appears to be a more stable and competent leadership team than the Dillard/Dudd standup comedy duo. Abbott will be out on his ears in two and a half years and a better GHG policy will be implemented. Plus alternative carbon-lite energy sources like solar are advancing quite nicely and will continue to be rolled out worldwide.

    In the global scheme of things, this little hiccup shouldn’t frighten the horses.

  56. Megan
    July 17th, 2014 at 23:34 | #56

    @Collin Street

    Isn’t that a “distinction without a difference”?

    In any case, I will rail against the ALP because they are dishonest empty, soulless shells standing for nothing except self-interest and corporate control of our society.

    The LNP is all of those things – but they are slightly less dishonest about it.

    The establishment media is the worst player in this joke because they perpetuate the illusion of a functioning democracy.

    It looks like PUP will force Abbott to have some kind of (probably ineffectual) ETS.

    Thankfully the Australian electors gave us an upper house beyond the direct control of the neo-con/fascist duopoly. Sadly, that is as close as we get to a functioning democracy in 2014 Australia.

  57. Patrickb
    July 17th, 2014 at 23:55 | #57

    @Midrash
    Once again he regales us with oblique references to people that he knows who read aticles somewhere about books by authors. It’s a machine for producing syntactically correct semantic rubbish, right. Clever programing.

  58. Tim Worstall
    July 18th, 2014 at 00:00 | #58

    “That is, there is no one anywhere who has honestly examined the evidence, without wishful thinking based on ideological or cultural preconceptions, and concluded that mainstream science is wrong.”

    Which bit of it?

    The “continually rising emissions will mean temperature rises and we really ought to do something about this” part?

    Or the “we must reduce emissions by 90% within 30 years” part?

    I have no quibble at all with the first part there, that second is rather more a political construct than something the science is telling us.

    It’s also entirely possible to construct an argument that even with the first one being true little to not very much needs to be done. Within that scientific consensus if we choose to believe that sensitivity is at the lower end of the current range plus also that (to use the SRES) we’re in an A1T world, not an A1FI one, very little to nothing does need to be done.

    My own belief (and it is a belief, not any attempt at a scientific statement) is that we probably are in an A1T style world. The cost reductions in renewables going on (and this is a field that I work on the periphery off and see the technological changes coming) mean that they’ll be cheaper than coal soon enough and thus installed in preference to coal soon enough. I’m thinking particularly of solar and fuel cells (linking the two together through hydrogen especially).

    Sure, this is a version of the “technology will save us ” argument but that argument is, at times, also actually true.

    All that aside it’s still sad to see the back of the carbon tax for Oz had actually implemented the correct policy decision in the right way. Everyone else that is doing anything at all is doing it more inefficiently. And yes, I can hold both those positions at the same time, that we probably don’t need to do very much but that the carbon tax is a good idea: insurance.

  59. Patrickb
    July 18th, 2014 at 00:15 | #59

    @Tim Worstall
    I would have thought that if temperatures are rising continually then something would have to be done. Unless you are claiming that continually rising temperatures have no malign effect? I think that solution you describe, the passive growth of non-carbon energy generation technology, is viable in the long run however timeliness is a significant risk factor and without active intervention these technologies may not be implemented with sufficient urgency.

  60. James Wimberley
    July 18th, 2014 at 00:17 | #60

    It will be a minor consolation to watch Abbott’s humiliation on climate change at the forthcoming G20 summit in November. None of the other participants owe Abbott anything, his venture into jetsetting diplomacy was a flop, and a good number like Barack Obama have staked real political capital on the issue. Abbott has removed climate change from the agenda, but nothing stops side meetings (excluding him, a she’s publicly not interested) and press conferences. I wouldn’t put it past Obama to tell Abbott that his presence depends on putting it back on the agenda.

  61. Midrash
    July 18th, 2014 at 00:18 | #61

    @John Quiggin
    Yes, and so is your evasion of the kind that Monbiot (in that case falsely) accused Plimer of. But I will spell out the give away for you so you won’t be left with cheap off the shelf stereotypes. Indeed I do want people to maintain just a little scepticism about the reasons for the production of thr very different and patently inadequate models and your comment is very much a case of the pot calling the kettle black as you make broad unsubstantiated (and to my knowledge at best overstated) imputations against the distorting motivations of people who doubt that science demonstrates what you seem yo think it does. I see you say more below but don’t get anywhere near claiming to have examined and to have reason for having faith in any and which of the models on the absolutely critical question of the adequacy and accuracy of modeling natural forces absent manmade emissions.

    I shall read what you have written about Lindzen but trust it deals with his papers (one requiring correction – which he made – on the absolutely critical issue of feedback from initial warming).

    I think you misrepresent me as relying for my (tentative and not critical) beliefs on what good science says about AGW on Plimer. I don’t. Not at all. But I did find it interesting that a journalist with no scientific credentials whatsoever (by his own admission), George Monbiot, should be given credit when any fair reading of the transcript of the interview which he and some other partisans claim to have skewered Plimer actually shows almost the opposite. I say “almost” because Plimer may be wrong but, if so, you and George Monbiot can’t claim the credit for demonstrating it. You haven’t even touched on the point that Monbiot just refused to listen to Plimer’s point that the figures he was relying on for CO2 emissions from submarine volcanoes were calculated from a very different model and by a different method compared with that used by the USGS. You can’t refute something that you haven’t attended to and Monbiot simply didn’t attend to what Plimer was saying. Plimer may be wrong on the quite important (though far from decisive) point about the emissions of CO2 by volcanoes but neither Mknbiot nor you have gone about demonstrating that in a credible way.

    By the way, before I sign off for a while, do you think Bob Carter’s receiving, in retirement, modest recompense for speaking at a Heartland Institute event is comparable to the importance to their decades of future career of the East Anglian lot and Michael Mann of the hockey stick being seen to be on the approved side of an issue like AGW?

  62. Midrash
    July 18th, 2014 at 00:22 | #62

    @Patrickb
    As well as totally avoiding the substance, aren’t you being naive in failing to imagine how concealing identity might bd an important reason for the way in which pretty clear points are laid out?

  63. Midrash
    July 18th, 2014 at 00:31 | #63

    @Tim Worstall
    Well said. A pity that JQ has taken the tribal oath and has to demean himself in consequence like any party politician proving fealty by swearing to his belief in more than he can possibly justify. OK I do understand that it would be positively indecent to accept appointment as a member of the college of Cardinals in the first flush of enthusiasm and then declare oneself an atheist – but it might be both honest and correct.

  64. Disenfranchised
    July 18th, 2014 at 01:06 | #64

    A correction to my comments on page 1. The general quotes I gave from Murdoch were not made at the 50th anniversary function for The Australian but in an earlier interview with Sky News. A recording of the interview can be viewed on the Skeptical Science web page posted July 14th.

  65. Alison Bunting
    July 18th, 2014 at 01:15 | #65

    I live in Europe and am an Aussie expat. One of the surprises of being here is that Australia rarely features in the news unless it’s a shark attack, a funny animal or …. a shark attack. I have to say that it was BIG NEWS in Europe when the Gillard government passed the legislation on carbon emissions. This is devastating for Australia, Australians (now and future) and our planet. Future generations will read about today in history books and shake their heads in bemusement towards those in power at Toad Hall. The wind in the willows indeed, if there are to be any willows left for future generations.

  66. July 18th, 2014 at 03:45 | #66

    My view is diametrically opposed to yours Dr Quiggin. It is a good thing the Co2 tax has been abolished.

    You are an ideologue of the far left by advocating that the alleged AGW is “a global problem that can only be fixed by changes to existing structures of property rights.”

    You want to take away peoples property rights based on a dubious publicly funded consensus.

    Fact: if Australia became totally uninhabited and cut its human co2 emissions to the ZERO, there would be ABSOLUTELY no measurable change to the worlds average global temperature.

    So for Australia to do anything (direct action or otherwise) would only be an exercise in WEALTH REDISTRIBUTION and have ABSOLUTELY no measurable effect on the worlds average global temperature.

    The abolition of the carbon tax is a victory for the little guy and considering the funding is so severely stacked against the skeptics, it is quite remarkable.

    Skepticism is healthy; question everything.

  67. John Mashey
    July 18th, 2014 at 04:35 | #67

    Too bad, but one minor note: very few climate “skeptics” are real skeptics, but rather pseudoskeptics.
    At least Oz does better in other things, such as plain packaging.

  68. rog
    July 18th, 2014 at 04:50 | #68

    @John Mashey Hence the more proper term deniers, which deniers find so offensive.

  69. J-D
    July 18th, 2014 at 07:51 | #69

    @Megan
    The actions of the ALP sway the universe. The ALP is responsible for every sparrow’s fall. If there’s a hole in your sock, the ALP put it there.

  70. Moz in Oz
    July 18th, 2014 at 07:56 | #70

    @Will

    Every time this comes up the reply is the same: the faux-ETS that the Greens voted against guaranteed huge ongoing subsidies to the biggest polluters. New Zealand has a scheme like it, and it’s costing them a fortune with no detectable drop in emissions. Simply, “exempt” polluters have 90% or more of their emission permits paid for by the taxpayer, and in the case of NZ farmers, 100%. So they have no incentive to reduce emissions.

    There’s a scheme (really a scam) going in NZ where industry get their NZ permits, sell them, and buy cheap overseas permits to replace them. It’s perfectly legal but it amounts to an actual subsidy for their pollution. I’m not sure whether the same problem was in the Australian system.

  71. Julie Thomas
    July 18th, 2014 at 08:03 | #71

    One could see or categorise ‘deniers’ as irrational ‘believers’. The religious deniers assume that their benevolent God provides them the ability to know the truth and the right to judge themselves as better than the rest of us.

    The atheist deniers assume that as the most intelligent and evolved humans, they are the new ‘Gods’ and it is their DNA to have the right to force all of us to be part of a system that benefits them.

    I wonder which category Mishmash is in.

    Some of them, like Mishmash, think that having a high IQ makes them better people, but the high IQ scores they fondly attribute to themselves have usually been measured with a silly paper and pencil test that has been discarded by the psych profession as having no validity or reliability, or they simply assume that if they have got ahead it is because they have a high IQ.

    But, if Mishmaas is a “machine for producing syntactically correct semantic rubbish”, the machine is breaking down and the program needs de-bugging.

    The typing mistakes in the latest round of dribbling likely come from a very bad temper – so many old blokes have this and can’t control themselves. I imagine him shaking with rage as he pounds out his stream of consciousness that is so ordinary. Or could be he’s just drinking a lot.

    Some people may be unable to see or hear the hurt feelings and outrage the poor old bugger feels, and very few of us will manage any empathy for him. But I think his verbosity and lack of dignity, shows that he knows ‘in his bones’, if not in his mind, that what is happening, the attitudes people are expressing here, is a growing movement and it is not a good thing for him. He is right.

    He and his kind are being exposed for what they are. I can see a big change of attitude toward politics and the LNP in the conservatives in my Qld country town. I don’t know where this dissatisfaction will go, but some do see and a few will admit that this govt is not what they thought it was going to be or do. This confusion is leading to some of them looking for a ‘narrative’ that explains what has happened to their Liberal party and this leads to the beginning of an understanding of the big ‘conspiracy’.

    Interesting that Tony Abbott is coming out and giving soft interviews. Chris Uhlman was very nice to him on RN just now – but Sarah Ferguson was off to a good start I thought in the way she conducted the interview with him on 7.30 last night.

    And this morning Tony had something he could talk about that didn’t require too much cognitive effort, so there was less umming and ahhing than usual, and on radio one can’t see the lying shifty eyes and the very disturbing hand movements.

  72. Ikonoclast
    July 18th, 2014 at 08:25 | #72

    My position in judging effective action on an issue like GHG emissions, is to ignore what people say and even ignore what they do in conventional politics. My position is simply “measure the emissions and see what is happening”.

    Emissions continue to rise, therefore all that is said and done in the conventional political sphere is no guide to what is happening or will happen to emissions. There is no serious political will to reduce emissions. There is no intention by those who control our economy (the plutocratic 1% or even 0.1%) to reduce emissions. Their will is what gets enacted.

    When will things change? It is tempting to think that market action itself (cheaper solar power etc.) will eventually effect change. I have thought so myself at times and said so on this blog. However, I now think I was wrong in saying this. Such a statement assumes a free market. We do not in fact have a free market. We have a market that is distorted by the plutocratic hijack of the state. The state in fact heavily subsidises plutocrats and implements only the policies they demand. Thus, fossil fuels continue to receive massive subsidies while alternative energy gets a relative pittance.

    So, only two things can change which will lead to a drop in GHG emissions. Either, the political system must change and indeed invert in a radical and revolutionary manner or the biosphere itself will impose limits. The former is very doubtful, the latter is a certainty if the former does not occur.

  73. Hermit
    July 18th, 2014 at 09:38 | #73

    I think we might achieve the feeble 5% emission cut by 2020 through economic downturn and what I’d call consumer snit rather than carbon policies. Remember Ford, Holden and suppliers will have shut up shop. Possibly another smelter will decide China is where it’s at. Then again China may slow down or import less coal. Petrol and gas are due for big price increases. Events such as Swanbank gas fired power station closing down to re-open Tarong coal station may be overwhelmed by the overall low carbon sentiment.

    A bellwether might be Christmas retail. If people don’t feel they’ve got their $550 worth of price cuts and the climate seems crook they might hold back. As we speak captains of industry are working out how to return us to the Golden Age. Shame if it doesn’t pan out and the old boys become irrelevant.

  74. John Quiggin
    July 18th, 2014 at 10:04 | #74

    @midrash You really think people become climate scientists for the money?

    As Julie says, it’s striking how people with a high measured IQ can (collectively) make themselves stupider than any ordinary dullard.

  75. Nevil Kingston-Brown
    July 18th, 2014 at 10:28 | #75

    Something not mentioned yet is that with Shorten’s declaration that Labor will bring in an ETS, the repeal becomes in one sense irrelevant. It should be clear to any business or investor that there will be a price on carbon in the near future even if there isn’t one now. Anyone who invested in or expanded carbon-intensive businesses at this point would be an idiot. Repeal might mean a few years of higher profits for coal fired generators but they would still need to plan to shut down or divest in future (a great investment opportunity for the Midrashes of this world!)

  76. Ernestine Gross
    July 18th, 2014 at 10:35 | #76

    Has anybody tried to ‘live’ in the alternative universe in power? It works like this: As of today, the potential student says, I don’t have to pay $100 for a leg of lamb, thanks to the abolition of the carbon tax (and the ETS with positive prices), and therefore an increase in the tuition fees are justified as predicted in the federal budget.

    (Don’t play this mental game for too long without taking notes to find your way back. Its already too late for some folks, it seems. )

  77. patrickb
    July 18th, 2014 at 11:21 | #77

    @Midrash
    Nope, still not getting it. This makes no sense whatsoever (and not because of the “be” typo):

    “failing to imagine how concealing identity might bd an important reason for the way in which pretty clear points are laid out?”

    Your criticism about not addressing the “substance” of your posts is unfounded, it assumes that your posts actually have some substance. My point is that your posts largely consist of asides, innuendo, assertions without facts and what are obviously personal biases. You will find that historically I have engaged with arguments that attempt a rational justification of their premises, see above for instance. I find your posts fascinating in that they have so many words and yet say absolutely nothing of substance. I suspect that you are an AGW denier of the classic Plimer kind. Sheer volume of words is used as a substitute for reason.

  78. Fran Barlow
    July 18th, 2014 at 13:18 | #78

    PrQ asked of @Midrash

    You really think people become climate scientists for the money?

    Perhaps he thinks “taxpayer dollars” are more exciting than fossil fuel dollars. Not a few of the denier trolls speak as if they are.

  79. Ootz
    July 18th, 2014 at 13:19 | #79

    @Nevil Kingston-Brown
    “It should be clear to any business or investor that there will be a price on carbon in the near future even if there isn’t one now.”

    Anyone with some business sense does plan for such, particularly firms involved in international operations.

    Meanwhile, any cheering in corporate boards might not reach the accounting departments. Companies will have no choice but to maintain a “shadow carbon price” no matter the current Australian policy, analysts say.
    “Regardless of what happens today, we will have a lot of uncertainty in the market, and that creates a shadow carbon price in power futures,” said Mr Bromley.
    Peter Castellas, chief executive of the Carbon Market Institute, said a survey of 82 companies liable to pay the carbon price last year found almost three quarters assumed a future carbon price on their investments.
    The estimated carbon price ranged from the low price for Certified Emissions Reductions, worth around 20 cents a tonne, to more than $50 a tonne, surveyed companies said.
    “Any company looking at any long-term investment will be thinking of factoring in a carbon price,” Mr Castellas said, noting this is particularly true for firms with international operations.

  80. Ootz
    July 18th, 2014 at 13:22 | #80

    @Nevil Kingston-Brown
    “It should be clear to any business or investor that there will be a price on carbon in the near future even if there isn’t one now.”

    Anyone with some business sense does plan for a shadow price on carbon, particularly firms involved in international operations.

    Meanwhile, any cheering in corporate boards might not reach the accounting departments. Companies will have no choice but to maintain a “shadow carbon price” no matter the current Australian policy, analysts say.
    “Regardless of what happens today, we will have a lot of uncertainty in the market, and that creates a shadow carbon price in power futures,” said Mr Bromley.
    Peter Castellas, chief executive of the Carbon Market Institute, said a survey of 82 companies liable to pay the carbon price last year found almost three quarters assumed a future carbon price on their investments.
    The estimated carbon price ranged from the low price for Certified Emissions Reductions, worth around 20 cents a tonne, to more than $50 a tonne, surveyed companies said.
    “Any company looking at any long-term investment will be thinking of factoring in a carbon price,” Mr Castellas said, noting this is particularly true for firms with international operations.

    http://www.smh.com.au/business/carbon-economy/who-wins-who-loses-when-the-carbon-tax-goes-20140709-zt1mm.html

  81. John Quiggin
    July 18th, 2014 at 13:28 | #81

    @Fran Barlow

    Good point!

  82. Tim Macknay
    July 18th, 2014 at 13:33 | #82

    @Moz in Oz

    Every time this comes up the reply is the same: the faux-ETS that the Greens voted against guaranteed huge ongoing subsidies to the biggest polluters. New Zealand has a scheme like it, and it’s costing them a fortune with no detectable drop in emissions. Simply, “exempt” polluters have 90% or more of their emission permits paid for by the taxpayer, and in the case of NZ farmers, 100%. So they have no incentive to reduce emissions.

    While I have no interest in joining the silly partisan blame-calling, I have to point out that the one of the main ways in which just-repealed Clean Energy Future legislation most closely resembled the never-implemented Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme was that both of them had almost identical schemes for compensating emissions intensive trade exposed industries. In that respect, the CPRS was certianly no worse than the CEF scheme. There were other, significant points of difference, but compensation for “big polluters” wasn’t one of them.

  83. Tim Macknay
    July 18th, 2014 at 13:42 | #83

    @Alison Bunting
    Hi Alison. I agree the repeal of the carbon price legislation is stupid and counterproductive, and that future generations will shake their heads at the stupidity, but I think it’s going overboard to say that it’s devastating for Australia and the planet. It’s a setback, not much more. It’s certainly bad for Australia, as the all the work done, and money spent, to do what has just been undone will now have to be done again. But I have no doubt that it will be done.

    In the long run, I suspect that the repeal of the carbon price won’t even necessarily be singled out as an event of particular significance, but rather, just seen as part of the period in our political history when people were unaccountably arguing about the patently obvious need to do something about greenhouse emissions, before eventually just knuckling down and doing it.

  84. Tim Macknay
    July 18th, 2014 at 13:53 | #84

    @Ikonoclast
    I see that at the moment we have the “doom is certain” Ikonoclast. I think I’ll patiently wait for the “maybe things will be ok” Ikonoclast to cycle back round again. ;)

  85. O6
    July 18th, 2014 at 14:29 | #85

    Midrash has gone away for the moment but as he seems to regard Ian Plimer’s climate change work as worthy of respect, I wish to remind people of Ian Enting’s analysis of Plimer’s first book
    http://www.complex.org.au/tiki-download_file.php?fileId=91 .

  86. Megan
    July 18th, 2014 at 15:00 | #86

    @Val

    I had a brief look at Hansard (re: 3 missing ALP senators on the vote) I may have missed one, but Carol Brown – Tas. and Kate Lundy – ACT didn’t vote.

    Of course Hansard doesn’t say why. They may have got lost on the way?

  87. Fran Barlow
    July 18th, 2014 at 15:06 | #87

    @John Quiggin

    It’s a persistent feature of rightwing populism and American libertarianism to de-authenticate, inter alia, the public sector relative to the private sector. The rationales offered for these positions by the two cohorts differ at the margins but they can both be seen quite distinctly when “tax” is mentioned — much as if it is a form of theft, by contrast with commerce.

    Consequently, anyone working for anything funded by state bodies is seen at best as not doing ‘real work’ and possibly a party to criminal conduct (often expressed as “living off the public teat” or “rentseeking”) . The populists make an exception of course for the armed forces, and to some extent, emergency services, possibly because these are seen as legitimate exercises of state power, without troubling to explore why the state providing other services that underpin the integrity of community aren’t also legitimate (welfare, education, housing, regulation of business and commerce etc).

    The RW libertarians need the RW populists in their coalition and so often run dead on the armed services, or cite Locke and move on.

    More broadly, the populists are suspicious of intellectual endeavour and non-manual labour more generally. Thus, anyone who works with their mind, while perhaps admired for their grasp of the abstruse, alienates him/herself from them socially, inviting suspicion and perhaps the fear that the mindworker sees him/herself as their social superior, to which many respond with reflexive emphasis on their cognitive development in “the school of hard knocks” and frontier/pioneer derringdo, and their location within some authenticated small community. The mindworker, almost by definition, will be geographically remote from them and probably live in a metropolis — which again, is less authentic. If they wear a white coat or live/work in a place that seems like “an ivory tower” then again both their isolation and putative existential threat is evident. That they are living from the tax of the toil of those close to the soil shows just how incipiently dangerous such folk are.

    The RW libertarians of course could scarcely care less about the authenticity of manual labour or the soil, but they know suckers when they see them. They are perfectly happy with intellectuals, providing they plead for the state to leave them as free as they can to exploit (under the banner of free choice) the weakminded wherever they find them.

  88. July 18th, 2014 at 15:18 | #88

    @phoenix

    Classic. The argument used by tax dodgers everywhere. “The little bit I should contribute is so small it will make no difference, except that it will hurt me. So I will hold out. Oh, and by the way, why are the waiting lists at hospitals so long? Bloody inefficient government.”

  89. Ken Fabian
    July 18th, 2014 at 15:57 | #89

    Using Phoenix’s logic, don’t bother bother with voting – such a tiny, insignificant thing, that vote amongst so many, many others.

    When a country like Australia – at the top of per capita emissions – refuses to do it’s share, it becomes the excuse for others, who’s per capita emissions will almost certainly be less than ours.

    If climate is an issue of multi-generational ethics, the opponents of action seem to embody amoral selfishness – except that, when viewed with a conviction that the problem is a deception perpetrated on the decent, the honest and the hardworking by agents of green socialist Evil can invert the moral compass and make what Abbott and team are doing into a noble crusade. In a world of marketing and manufactured perceptions, that kind of inversion can persist for a long time, all the while generating fanatical determination to obstruct timely action. History may well condemn them, but I think it will take some real and indisputable climate consequences severely damaging our economy first.

  90. July 18th, 2014 at 16:13 | #90

    I got my electricity bill today here in South Australia today. I wonder what I will do with the whole three cents a day the death of the carbon price will save me? Or rather not save me as it’s revenue that will either have to be made up somewhere else or from cuts in services.

  91. Ikonoclast
    July 18th, 2014 at 16:58 | #91

    @Tim Macknay

    I do flip-flop a bit. The “Doom Ikonoclast” is the hard-nosed realist who won’t sugarcoat the pill for himself or all the Pollyannas. The “Maybe we have a chance Ikonoclast” appears when I doubt my empirically derived near certainities or when I decide I should keep some dialogue open with other humans. ;)

  92. Chris O’Neill
    July 18th, 2014 at 17:27 | #92

    @rog

    The ALP can grow a backbone and make the next election a vote on an ETS

    The ALP had a backbone with which they used the last election as a vote on the Carbon tax.

    How’d that turn out for them?

  93. Fran Barlow
    July 18th, 2014 at 17:27 | #93

    While I am to be counted amongst those who saw the CEF package as a step forward compared with doing nothing, it was at best a very modest step forward. Its principal benefit from a climate change perspective was to help increase the international momentum for devising and implementing effective abatement. Had the Abbott regime wanted to, it could have left the package structure untouched and white-anted it by more than 100%. The rules were written in such a way as to permit the carbon farming initiative to be a giant porkbarrell.

    Now that the pricing part of the package has been struck down, it might be useful to consider other approaches to abatement that would be less open to subversion and game playing than this one was. If they were framed in ways that most non-tribal voters could understand, the regime might begin to find itself wedged.

  94. David Irving (no relation)
    July 18th, 2014 at 17:49 | #94

    @Ronald Brak
    Amusingly, I got a letter the other day from my electricity service provider letting me know that their charges were rising by about 2c / kWh. Of course, I didn’t expect my bills to reduce as I pay a premium for 100% renewable-sourced energy (so no carbon price for me), but that really adds insult to injury.

  95. J-D
    July 18th, 2014 at 18:07 | #95

    @Megan
    If one party is slightly less dishonest than another, is that a good thing? or a bad thing? or neither? and why?

  96. J-D
    July 18th, 2014 at 18:21 | #96

    @Watkin Tench

    Opinion polls more than two years before election day may have some value as a guide to the actual result — but not much. Very little.

  97. J-D
    July 18th, 2014 at 18:25 | #97

    @phoenix
    If I’m going to question everything, can I begin by questioning people’s right to property?

  98. Fran Barlow
    July 18th, 2014 at 18:52 | #98

    @J-D
    I don’t think the question admits an answer. There are different qualities of dishonesty after all. And of course some qualities of dishonesty cause more harm than others.

    Almost all dishonesty in politics is corrosive of authentic community, and to be condemned of course, but even in this one has to weigh harm to legitimate interest when evaluating it.

  99. Chris O’Neill
    July 18th, 2014 at 19:34 | #99

    @phoenix

    if Australia became totally uninhabited and cut its human co2 emissions to the ZERO, there would be ABSOLUTELY no measurable change to the worlds average global temperature.

    A.K.A. the argument of the beard. There is no measurable growth in a beard over, say, 5 minutes therefore beards don’t grow.

    This is yet another logical fallacy promulgated by denialists. Logical fallacies are their tool-in-trade.

  100. Chris O’Neill
    July 18th, 2014 at 19:50 | #100

    Sinclair Davidson gets to write on our ABC about how wonderful it is that the Carbon tax was repealed:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-17/davidson-goodbye-to-the-all-pain-no-gain-carbon-tax/5597614

    Gee that ABC has a left-wing bias.

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