JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Finally, a politician doing what politicians should do

This is a big step. Steve Fielding in Australia holds a crucial senate vote on the proposed Emission Trading Scheme (ETS). Astonishingly (for a politician) he stands out from the crowd for simply saying the obvious. He wants to “hear from both sides of the debate.”
senator fielding watches the Heartland conference

A simple statement like this should not be remarkable—but it’s so rare. Steve Fielding assumed the mainstream thinking was right, but is now doing what anyone who hasn’t looked at the debate in detail ought to be doing. Some research. It’s a rare occasion when you can see the good side of democracy and free speech in action. He paid for himself to fly to the far side of the world to attend Heartland’s 3rd conference on Climate Change to hear from scientists who are not convinced carbon has a large role to play in our climate.

The Australian newspaper covered it. And Steve expanded today in the Australian on why he went to Washington.

His visit to the Heartland conference has given the Australian ABC enough reason to bother sending a journalist to it (unlike the two previous conferences). See their short coverage from Washington. (Look out for the glimpse of The Skeptics Handbook.)

Tony Jones

Wednesday night on Lateline Tony Jones interviewed Steve Fielding. Remember that Steve Fielding is an engineer and they are talking about a scientific topic, yet Tony Jones feels he can ask whether Fielding’s mind would ‘remain open at all’ after meeting sceptics, as if Fielding could be bowled over by the risky event of listening to sceptics for a day. And this is after Fielding has repeatedly said he’s there to get to the bottom of this.  The only mind that’s closed in this room is Jones’.

Jones is so sure there is no story in the science that he tackles this as if it were a political story. His first question is about Fielding’s opinion, and his second question is about the people—not the science—he asks “Who impressed you?” Which suggests Jones was prepared with a list of the scientists names at the conference and he was ready to comment on their credibility (the predictable, unscientific, ad hominem attack). This is what political journalists do, they research biographies as if that could tell us about planetary temperatures. Several times Jones also refers to the ‘vast majority of scientists’, the ‘most respected’ Hadley Centre. He was unafraid to wield the intellectually lazy argument-from-authority, without acknowledging the caveat, that authority proves nothing on a scientific topic. This was his chance as an investigative journalist to see if there could possibly be anything to the sceptical case, but when he had a trained engineer in front of him who had changed his mind, Tony Jones wasn’t looking.

Early on in the interview, Steve Fielding speaks generically about evidence and facts and instead of asking for details, Jones’ scornfully dismisses it: “You just spent the whole day listening to people who claim global warming is essentially all a conspiracy, and we don’t need to do anything about carbon.” Skeptics Handbook on table

It’s not possible to get to the bottom of the science without asking about the evidence, yet most journalists like Jones, are asking the wrong questions. They talk about the people, the funding, the organizations, anything but the planet. And when they do finally talk about the planet, most points they mention are evidence of warming, but not evidence that carbon caused that warming. And when they talk about the ‘organizations’, it’s not to investigate them (unless it’s EXXON), but to use them as a weapon to cut off debate.

We have the illusion of ‘free press’, but when the press is untrained in logic and reason, free press is just free propaganda

The muddy thinking in journalists is not just unfortunate, it’s dangerous. We have the illusion of ‘free press’, but when the press is untrained in logic and reason, free press is just free propaganda. And it’s worse because it’s disguised.

Heads up to John Happs, Anne-Kit Littler and Brian Valentine for the links.


What Fielding could have said

Fielding commented that temperatures have not risen, and Tony immediately came back with ‘yes but’ and then listed the eight or so top hottest years since time began (well… since 1880 when we first got reliable temperature records). Here’s the answer to that:

1. 1880 isn’t long in geological terms. Most climate cycles are far far longer than that, and we know that this current warming trend started in the mid 1700′s or early 1800′s. Glaciers have been melting and sea levels have been rising since long before General Motors Holden was even dreamt of. We don’t know what caused the warming trend 200 years ago to start, so we don’t know if that factor has stopped. If we look back 5000 years, these temperatures are not records.
2. It’s true but it doesn’t mean much. If temperatures have reached a cyclical high for some other reason, then the warmest years on record would all cluster together. This current clustering doesn’t tell us if the warming trend will continue or if it starting to turn down. Trying to argue it from that point alone is like predicting stock prices based solely on a ‘reverse candlestick formation’. It’s just a game of extending lines on graphs without understanding the forces that control the changes. (Actually, this does technical analysis a disservice, after all, stocks can be affected by investor psychology and points of ‘resistance’. We played with this line of thought more here.)

Tony Jones asked: “You’ve heard from a whole range of sceptics, some of them scientists and some of them not… how do you make up your mind?”

For a change, this is a surprisingly good question (if loaded with an unnecessary aspersion to ‘non-scientists’…). It’s a shame Fielding didn’t have The Skeptics Handbook at hand then, because he would have known that the only answer to this is… I’ll look for empirical evidence… I want to see if the data from the real world fits the theory. (Note: Fielding obviously understands the foundations of science… I’m humbly suggesting The Handbook might have just helped him phrase the answer.)

Don’t get me wrong, Fielding is doing a great job, and my faith in democracy is renewed. Here is a man who does his job with intelligent dedication. Who can ask for more?

[The full set of official and unofficial documents arising from the meeting are all listed and linked to here.]


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67 comments to Finally, a politician doing what politicians should do

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    Anne-Kit Littler

    If you are a non-believer in AGW I urge you to write to Senator Fielding expressing your support for his courage to speak up and to seek the truth. Here’s a link to his website:

    http://www.stevefielding.com.au/

    Here is someone who has stepped out and dared to be his own man. He will need our encouragement in the days and weeks to come. He holds the balance of power in his hands and will be put under a lot of pressure to conform, perhaps even be bribed. Drop him a line of support, and if you believe in God, pray for him!

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    Matt Buckels

    So you don’t think any federal politicians who are not sceptics have the guts to speak what they really think about AGW in parliament A-K? You don’t think, for example, that Bob Brown says what he thinks???

    As for 151… how about PIlmer? An Australian university professor? How about Prof Jorg Imberger who is a “warmist” but is strongly opposed to carbon trading??? hardly a shrinking violet? It is such a crock of an argument that one has to be a warmist to get any funding.

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    Anne-Kit Littler

    Oh PLEASE, Matt: Bob Brown is hardly sticking his neck out and going against the chummy, greenie-lefty consensus, is he now? (Bob Brown is the leader of the Australian Greens, for those who are not Australians)

    Any mouse can stand up and roar when he’s got all his mates backing him up, not to speak of the main stream media of the world who have all been mesmerised into compliance with the prevailing group think.

    Grow up!

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    Matt Buckels

    Sorry Anne-Kit: you said “just about the only Federal parliamentarian here, along with Barnaby Joyce, who has the guts to speak what he really thinks about AGW, in Parliament!”… so I named one… but you say he doesn’t count. How about Siewert, Ludlam, Milne? on other issues you don;t think they stick their neck out all the time? Sorry if most of your party are, as you seem to claim, gutless, then that is their problem.

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    Matt Buckels

    Anne-Kit maybe you could explain how Barnaby going against the “Farmers can’t do anything wrong” consensus (and I refer you to Agmates.com.au) and Fielding going against the “I represent ultra conservative Christians” consensus. They are politicians doing what comes naturally – exploiting a wedge for political gain.

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    I praised Fielding for saying “I want to hear from both sides”.

    Since when has Bob Brown or Christine Milne said that? Did I miss them declaring that they want to base their decision on the evidence and that they’re going out of their way to find out what sceptics have to say? Noooo…’ we want to be scientific’… ‘we want to use science to save the planet, but we don’t think scientists who don’t agree with us should get anything but derision, mocking, insults or ignored. “They are deniers after all”.

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    Matt Buckels

    Jo I was specifically replying to A-K’s claim that only a tiny number of politicians are brave enough to speak their minds on AGW.

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    Jo the European elections seem to have caused alarm amongst the alarmists – are there more Steve Fieldings coming to the fore there? Naturally the MSM will not mention the public’s dismissal of ‘climate change’ advocates and policies but I suspect that this has a lot to do with the upset – what is your take on this?

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    Tel

    What’s wrong with this picture?

    http://lnx-bsp.net/news/2006/01/02/not_an_idiot.jpeg

    Someone in DuPont’s Tyvek department must be pretty jolly happy with themselves. I’m sure this relates to Fielding somehow.

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    Brian G Valentine

    I’m not a plastic bag either.

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    At last.., a sane voice has come in from the climate change “wilderness”, an engineer with an open mind has spoken. Free from ideology, vested interests ,financial or otherwise , with only one “goal”, in mind, THE TRUTH!!!!!, He is not saying he has just heard THE TRUTH, or that current close minded and ideology driven postering , to which he pertained not long ago, is not the THE TRUTH, he is urging everybody TO THINK!!!, TO REASON with everything we know, TO CONCLUDE on the entire body of evidence. Anyone who is against this is clearly against, democracy, natural justice, and an enemy of the state. It is called FASCISM, NAZISM, COMMUNISM, ZIONISM, SATANISM ,….. and spectacularly UNAUSTRALIAN. Australias current goverment is behaving in ways not seen before in Australia, not even with previous ALP goverment , there is something dark and sinister about the way in which it operates, the way it justifies its catastrophic decitions regarding the economy , foreign ownership of resourses etc. Assuming, that these are not unintelligent people at all, one can only assume that they know precisley what they are doing, they have an agenda and a goal. Is it the NEW World ORDER followers , the ILLUMINATIS, the ZIONISTS, a CULT????????. Australians must be carefull and concerned about this goverment, as well as their state goverment affiliates eg. Anna Bligh QLD, who currently is hellbent on selling the “the family silver”, to cover up a 15 billion dollar shortage in her ideology allowance, even ignoring loud and strong opposition in her own party ALP. Who are these people?????? In finnishing, here is one DEFINITIVE TRUTH, the way to permanent and irreversible IGNORANCE , is CONTEMPT PRIOR TO INVESTIGATION. Thank you senator Steve Fielding for your dedication to THE TRUTH. Regards Thor von Oden thorvonoden@yahoo.com

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    Anne-Kit Littler

    Matt,I’ll spell it out so even you understand it:

    In my post (#152 on the “Missing Climate Headlines …” thread) I was referring to the tiny number of politicians from ANY party currently represented in Parliament who have the courage to speak up against the prevailing climate dogma which they all pay lip service to (I.e. The Litany: “The-Science-is-Settled”, “We-must-have-an-ETS we-are-just-squabbling-over-when-and-how-much”

    There is no risk (and consequently no courage required) in speaking your mind if your mind is part of the hive mentality.

    I grew up on a (literary) diet of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. Andersen was a marvellous social satirist and as with all good fairy tales there are great moral lessons to be learned from his stories.

    If you haven’t read it – I’ll warrant a lot of people outside of Denmark haven’t actually read him, they just know about him – I encourage you to read “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, and have Climate Change in mind when you do.

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    Anne-Kit Littler

    And I don’t know of “any other issues” that are so completely governed by Group Think as AGW, so I have no comment on politicians who might speak out on other issues.

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    Matt Buckels

    Wow Hans Christian Anderson??? Emperor’s New Clothes? Sorry AK never heard of this Dane. Must be unknown outside of your neck of the woods…

    ok I’ve looked it up… are you saying Fielding is the Emperor?

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    Matt Buckels

    Also I think if you read carefully the Emperor indeed should have listened to his trusted advisors, not the unscrupulous merchants of spin(ning thread)…

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    Matt Buckels

    ok Anne-Kit – how about the Pacific Solution of the Howard Government. Do you think many libs were silenced by the Group THink? How about the War on Iraq based on WMDs???

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    Tel

    I’ll admit to being prejudiced against Fielding because “Family First” is a God Botherer party, and I’ve dealt with the likes of Fred Nile in the past so that’s left me uneasy about religion mixing with politics. I’m perfectly happy to let anyone follow any religion they want, providing they don’t mistake my politeness for an invitation to go study bible with them or any similar nonsense. The pushy religious pricks have scorched the earth for the moderates and that’s unfair, but the world is unfair.

    Having read Fielding’s web page, maybe I’ve been too hasty to judge him. There’s nothing to suggest he is going to try and ram religion down my throat (which is comforting) and he does at least have the decency to look at the issues with his own eyes and say it like he feels. I can respect his upfront integrity even if I don’t agree with everything he says.

    Also, he allows random people to discuss the issues on his web page and it takes balls of steel to do that (I don’t see any Labor or Liberal MPs with genuine discussion on their pages).

    Difficult question: is it better to be taken hostage by a sincere true-believer or an insincere backstabber? I mean, the backstabber is open to negotiation, but may get a better offer, the true believer thinks he knows the answers and won’t negotiate… but may have a place for you in his plans. Depressing that we have to make such choices :-)

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    mondo

    Jo,

    You say “The muddy thinking in journalists is not just unfortunate, it’s dangerous. We have the illusion of ‘free press’, but when the press is untrained in logic and reason, free press is just free propaganda. And it’s worse because it’s disguised.”

    I agree entirely. We should all be trying to do something about it. One way is to flood the ABC feedback sites with communications pointing out the obvious biases when we see them. For example, Lateline has a feedback link http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/contact.htm and if you want to go so far as to make a complaint regarding bias go to http://www.abc.net.au/contact/complain.htm.

    Bear in mind that ABC MD Mark Scott has publicly stated that he sees addressing bias within the ABC as a very important issue.

    “It is a challenge to ourselves and our critics to think afresh about how we deliver balance, diversity, impartiality. That is why the revised ABC editorial policies, released to staff yesterday, are important for the future of the ABC. It is only reasonable that, as the public broadcaster, the ABC sets high standards for itself: higher standards than anyone else in the Australian media.

    I want us to be hard-nosed in assessing the bias question ourselves because there are few more serious allegations that can be made against serious journalists. The ABC cannot afford to be biased or be seen to be biased. It can take no editorial position in its news. And while there is opportunity for opinion on the ABC under the new editorial policies, there needs to be a plurality of opinion.

    - Mark Scott, October 2006″

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    [...] Finally, a politician doing what politicians should do | JoNova [...]

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    Steve Green

    As one who only recently discovered this wonderful site, I must say I sincerely enjoy it! Regardless of toward which side one leans, *all* posts are generally thought-provoking and THAT is a True Measure of appropriate Scientific Inquiry. I have learned so much, from so many (on both sides). For that, I thank you all – and many Thanks to you, Jo, for making it happen.

    And a special note of thanks to Matt Buckels, who appears to tirelessly search out obscure points to harp on, and only rarely addresses the actual issue. MattB serves his greatest purpose, IMHO, by reminding folks that distractions – and how to deal with them – are just as important as doing the actual research and looking at Real World Data.

    Matt, it seems to me that most of the skeptical posters here merely have QUESTIONS about the CONCLUSIONS being reached. (It’s not GW, but AGW that is in question.) And it’s not they are unwilling to admit they *may* be wrong, they just want PROOF – or, at the very least, an admission that AGW is *just-a-theory*, not Absolute Fact. That, and perhaps some demonstrated data showing these admittedly expensive proposals will actually address the ‘problem’ which is claimed to exist. Is that too much to ask? Are we so certain of the ‘evidence’ that we must we rush to destroy civilization as we know it? For what purpose, what goal and using what criteria… how will we know when we have ‘done enough’ to fix it?

    So — a question, Matt (and some others), at the risk causing you some small amount of lizardly unhappiness (and perhaps I have missed your answer to this in an earlier thread; if so, my apologies)…

    What would it take for you to acknowledge the pro-AGW forces do *not* have a monopoly on knowledge for how the world climate Really Operates? In other words, what piece of DATA from Real World observations do you need to question the CONCLUSIONS being preached by ‘the consensus’?

    Inquiring minds want to know…

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    Matt Buckels

    Steve, I honestly think you will find I (generally) only chime in with what you term “distractions” in response to posts that are clouded in half-truths and speculation. So for example posts 14, 15, 16 reply to AK’s somehow thinking the Emperor’s New Clothes in some way justifies the sceptical camp, and that Group Think has never clouded any other issue in recent history. All I really ask is that the same rigour that is expected of people like me to not muddy the water with non-science is applied to skeptics, say for example that rant from Thor von Oden in post 11. If that was a warmist rant it would soon be replaced with [juvenile, non-science rant removed]. But for my sins I quite like the banter, in that it can develop personal relationships on the soulless web. Lets take Brian Valentine for example, I feel that if Brian and I were to bump in to eachother in a pub we’d share a beer and a bit of a laugh wheras witout a bit of early banter there would be no such outcome.

    To your question… I don’t think there is a single piece of data that would change my mind just like that… I guess the answer is “data that gets published, stands up to probing, and makes sense” – sorry if that is a bit wishy washy but I have faith in not only science, but the science community. To try and claim some of the credit that Johnny Come Lately Mr Fielding gets, can I point out that I only visit scpetic blogs because I am genuinely interested in the science and am looking forward to the day that I indeed find that piece of data. Subjects that I have researched in the past year, for my own interest, include the post-1998 cooling, the hotspot (or lack thereof), the sun both in terms of general activity, flares, sunspots, cloud formation via cosmic rays, criticism of the Hockeystick, claims of warmer temps in the past that are relevant in terms of human habitation of the planet, distortions to the surface temp records a la watts up with that, our impending future of plunging in to a pulverising and brutal ice-age, IPCC report review processes, Inhofe’s list, Ian Pilmers book, the skeptic’s handbook, higher temps will be good for us, CO2 is plant food is good, need I go on? I approach them like a man dying of cancer if you like – hoping they are the miracle cure but knowing I can’t afford to dabble in snake oil (so with a hopeful, open, but skeptical mind… is that not how all science should be approached). Off the science I’ve also looked at financial corruption, world markets, the conspiracy theories if you like – the various motivations that there could be to impose a carbon price on a planet that does not need it. I also have degrees in Environmental Engineering and Physics which I like to think give me the general science nouse to know when I’m being sold a line.

    Just about the only thing I’ve not done is watch An Inconvenient Truth or The Global Warming Swindle.

    Note – the above is not an appeal to authority or big-noting myself – they are just the facts of my story of trying to ensure that my position is grounded in science.

    My personal conclusion: The science of AGW is solid, but nothing that would surprise me if one day it WAS discovered that CO2′s influence has been over (or under) stated. Furthermore the solution to the “problem” is grounded in solid economics and is easily within our technological and economic capability to manage. So when I see a problem that science tells us most likely will be a really big problem, and I’m happy with that science, and a problem that can be solved with a solution that economics tells us will not be a problem, and I’m happy with that economics, then the answer to me is to implement the solution and keep a close eye on the science to make sure we are doing enough but not too much.

    I hope that answers your question:)

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    I emailled Stuarts question to friends in Europe and from Frederic at skyfal who posted the French Version of the Skeptics Handbook comes this answer. http://skyfal.free.fr/

    Hi Joanne,
    In France, there is no MP I’m aware of who publicly wants to know both sides of the debates. We have no Fielding or Inhofe. Claude Allegre is the single politician who is a vocal skeptic but he has now zero political mandate. There is may be Sylvie Brunel, a professor economist who is pubicly anti-greenies (but not overtly climate skeptic). She is currently often invited in many tv debates but just as a furniture to give a semblance of opinion diversity. But she is no politician, just the wife of Eric Besson, our Immigration Minister. I know their family indirectly and have discussed with Eric Besson, he believes GW is balooney but keeps his mouth shut. That’s to say the climate of fear the AGWers and their allies in the media have imposed in France.
    Worse, I’m learning today the governement is preparing a “contribution énergie climat” (= “climate tax” in plain English) after the sucess of the Green Alliance in the last sunday European elections (a minor ballot with only 40% turnout in France) which has grabbed as many seats as the Socialists, the second party in France: see the article below. In short, the French nuclear lobby has succeeded its holdup. For the anecdote, 12 over 14 “climatologists” lead authors of the 2007 IPCC AR4 are scientists from the French Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique, please connect the dots.

    For other European countries, others must know better than me. Just to signal what you may already know : the UKIP which is publicly climate skeptical, has won more seats in the last sunday elections than climate hysterical Labour.

    Cheers.
    Fred.

    P.S. Today’s article on the climate tax in Le Figaro, one of the main French newspapers :

    Taxe pour le climat : l’État prépare le terrain
    M.C., C.C. et Cy.L.
    Le Figaro
    Christine Lagarde et Jean-Louis Borloo présenteront mercredi un livre blanc sur les conditions d’une mise en œuvre d’une «contribution énergie climat».

    La réunion était prévue de longue date. Mais la forte poussée des courants écologiques aux élections européennes a ouvert un boulevard au gouvernement. Christine Lagarde, ministre de l’Économie, et Jean-Louis Borloo, ministre du Développement durable, présenteront mercredi un livre blanc sur «la contribution climat énergie». Proposée par Nicolas Hulot dans son pacte écologique, reprise dans le Grenelle de l’environnement, l’instauration d’une «contribution climat énergie» est donc enfin mise à l’étude. L’objectif est de taxer les consommateurs des énergies les plus émettrices de gaz à effet de serre responsable du changement climatique. Une conférence de consensus doit réunir les 2 et 3 juillet plusieurs experts afin d’étudier les mécanismes possibles de taxation. Elle sera suivie autour du 10 juillet d’une table ronde réunissant les personnalités qualifiées, l’ensemble étant orchestré par l’ancien premier ministre Michel Rocard.

    Pionniers sur le sujet, les experts de la Fondation Nicolas Hulot ont pensé un double système. «Il s’agit tout d’abord de mettre à contribution les ménages, les entreprises et les administrations en fonction de leur consommation d’énergie fossile, autrement dit le fioul, le gaz et le charbon», explique ainsi Alain Grandjean, économiste et membre du comité de veille de la fondation. L’idée serait ensuite de taxer la part de la consommation d’électricité qui provient également des énergies fossiles (gaz et charbon essentiellement). Soit environ 20 % de la consommation, le reste étant produit par le nucléaire et l’hydraulique.

    5 à 6 milliards d’euros

    Le livre blanc qui sera présenté mercredi ne va pas aussi loin. Son unique objectif, insiste Bercy, est de servir de base à la concertation. «Le but est de montrer à quoi ressemble cette taxe et où elle est appliquée, de savoir si elle est efficace et qui la paye, explique-t-on dans l’entourage de Christine Lagarde. Si un consensus se dégage, on pourrait mettre cette contribution dans le budget 2010, sinon on poursuivra les discussions.» Le livre blanc sera tout de même bien balisé. Il s’interrogera sur la possibilité de taxer les énergies les plus polluantes, mais aussi la consommation d’électricité. «Taxer l’électricité serait un bon signal pour réduire la consommation d’énergie, mais moins bon vis-à-vis du pouvoir d’achat», reconnaît l’un des rédacteurs du livre blanc. Autre question abordée : quelles entreprises taxer ? A priori, les grandes entreprises qui sont soumises à des quotas carbones seraient exonérées. De même, dans quelles conditions peut-on mettre en place une taxe CO2 aux frontières pour pénaliser les produits issus de pays moins respectueux de l’environnement ? Autre question abordée : faut-il prélever cette taxe directement auprès des producteurs, ce qui a l’avantage de la simplicité, ou au contraire l’inscrire sur les étiquettes à destination du consommateur final, ce qui la rendrait plus efficace ?

    Officiellement, aucun chiffrage n’est évoqué. Mais selon une source gouvernementale, «si on instaure une contribution sur une assiette large et qu’on inclut les ménages, elle pourrait rapporter entre 5 et 6 milliards d’euros ». Soit, à 2 milliards près, le montant que le gouvernement doit trouver pour compenser la suppression de la taxe professionnelle. D’où l’envie de Bercy de pousser le sujet jusqu’au bout, même s’il est délicat politiquement. «Attention à ne pas pénaliser les ménages les moins aisés, pour qui le chauffage et le transport représentent une part élevée du budget», prévient déjà la sénatrice UMP Fabienne Keller, qui propose, par exemple, «l’instauration d’un chèque vert, sur le modèle de ce qu’ont fait les Danois, pour aider les familles à faire face à la hausse des taxes sur l’énergie». Bref, les idées ne manquent pas et les débats ne font que commencer…

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    I can tell you that here in the UK there is virtually no political opposition questionning the so-called “consensus” view that CO2 must be reduced to control the climate. When the Climate Change Act was passed last November there were 5 MPs voting against it, against about 450 in favour (the other 190 or so were absent).

    The recent EU elections here gave an interesting result in that the UK Independence Party (UKIP), which wants to take the UK out of the EU came second to the Conservatives, who are the current opposition party; pushing the governing Labour Party into third place. UKIP are also a climate sceptic party, though the climate did not figure prominently in the elections which were very low key with a low turnout. UKIP currently have one MP who has defected from the Conservatives, but none has been elected as a UKIP candidate.

    I would say that the public here are still largely sceptical, though subjected to a continual alarmist media, with one or two notable exceptions.

    For more on this you can visit my blog and put “Christopher Booker” into my search engine. He is one journalist who the alarmists would love to close down!

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    Steve Green

    Matt, you said, ‘Furthermore the solution to the [AGW] “problem” is grounded in solid economics and is easily within our technological and economic capability to manage.’

    Easily? On a world-wide scale? (China and India will not give up coal anytime soon.) I suspect the solution you refer to is *NOT* the wildly popular (sic) Cap-and-Trade enforcement bureaucracy. So… Which ‘solution grounded in solid economics’ are you talking about?

    The only option *I* see, aside from some unknown-and-so-far-undiscovered technological breakthrough, is expansion of nuclear power. In my experience, among many AGWers (and their associated political class) going nuclear is not considered acceptable. I don’t know why; it certainly doesn’t appear to be based on proven science-based issue of concern. I assume the reasoning(?) behind discarding some very promising nuclear proposals must be political. (If you aren’t willing to consider *all* the options, are you really interested in Solving The Problem? Or is there some other agenda? Hmmm.)

    The immediate destruction of the world economy – or destruction of selected major players – as suggested (demanded) by most AGWers is insane. Cheap energy is the KEY to future expansion of civilization and improvement of the human condition (always has been). Moving to better, cheaper, more effective energy production rather than relying predominately on fossil fuels is a Good Idea. Yes, wind, solar, geothermal, etc., are options worthy of continued research, but are no where near economically viable on the scale needed. And, yes, Going Nuclear has some issues (which are quickly solvable if the desire is there), but it also has the greatest short-term and long-term potential.

    BTW – I guess its obvious by now, you would put me in the camp of the AGW-deniers, but one willing to admit I don’t have all the answers. I believe there is a *chance* the AGWers are actually correct about CO2, but there are enough puzzling questions about the Real World evidence to prohibit reaching that conclusion. All those wonderfully complex climate models are still just models, not fact. The lack of a comprehensive (and politically-acceptable) explanation of why GW happens is not proof of AGW. Short version: We just don’t know enough about all the underlying climate mechanisms to assert (a) it’s all our fault, (b) we can fix it, and (c) we *must* to DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW!

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    Matt Buckels

    well yes cap and trade is the economic lowest cost method of apportioning the CO2 emissions – but at least you are not only opposed to mainstream science, but also mainstream economics Steve:) I’m not an opponent of Nuclear power FYI, however it certainly has some serious supply side issues were it to upscale to replace coal at the levels required. you should check out Bravenewclimate for some great background to energy issues, most notably a book by a fellow called TOm Blees, and a technology called Integral Fast Reactor (not fusion). I think you will find that certainly in Australia opposition to Nuclear is pretty much across the board… if it were restricted to Greenies we would have nuclear power… powerful coal lobby industry aside. I consider myself to be energy technology agnostic in terms of how we will sort things out – but I highly doubt we will fail.

    For mine we do know enough to say (a) it is probably our fault, (b) we can fix it and (c) if what we know about the science is true we need to act RIGHT NOW. I could ask you what WOULD make you think your (a), (b) and (c) were satisfied.

    I have to say it always surprises me how the sceptical side of things seem to have such little faith in human ingenuity to solve problems?

    Lets wait and see what China and India will do yeah? I’m not at all convinced that an agreement at Copenhagen is out of the question… if it does not eventuate then believe me I hope you guys are right. In 50 years I’ll happily post “I was wrong, I would have wasted a lot of money. I hope some of you guys will say “I was wrong I was part of the movement that has pretty much killed the planet” ;)

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    Matt: “I have to say it always surprises me how the sceptical side of things seem to have such little faith in human ingenuity to solve problems?”

    Matt, we have every faith in human ingenuity, but not much faith in group-think. Get the government out of the way. Let human ingenuity rise up, unencumbered by endless rules, regulations, updates, audits, cross checks, training manuals, tax changes and occupational health and safety nanny state rules.

    There is nothing ‘free’ about a free market in carbon. Without a government dictate on it’s value, the price of air-which-could-have-had-even-more-carbon-in-it would be FREE, as in Zero cost, no earnings, no sale. Nothing. Carbon Credits are an artificial market trading a nullity in a gas over a third world country which has few human rights, no free press, and an unfair legal system.

    PS: Matt, why wait 50 years? Just ask for evidence now.

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    Steve Green

    Thanks, Matt: I’ll look into your energy notes; always looking for new ideas.

    I have no problem being “out of the mainstream”. This site clearly establishes that nose counting in matters of science is worthless (e.g., “It still moves.”)

    Thanks JoNova for so accurately pointing out that skeptics generally have full faith in human ingenuity. So why not turn it loose? Historically, it is easy to show that even when given the power and control required, Government usually gets it WRONG. And typically Really Wrong. Sometimes better off doing nothing Wrong… That fact by itself is almost enough reason to run away from Cap-and-Trade.

    As for what it would take for me to jump (back) onto the AGW bandwagon, I think you summed things up for me nicely… “if what we know about the science is true…” So – Let’s PROVE the AGW theory by observation and experimentation, and disarm the ‘skeptic’ position entirely…

    That hasn’t happened.

    Denying that objective demonstrated proof is required before taking action on such a massive global scale strikes me as foolish at best. (“There’s a consensus! Who needs data when the MODELS prove it! The debate is over!”) And objective evidence would go a long way towards getting EVERYONE on board for what action must be taken, since, according to those in a panic about AGW insist the Entire Human Species is at risk.

    Cap-and-Trade as currently proposed – or as I call it, the “No Bureaucrat Left Unemployed” Act – will not work. Period. There is no demonstrated proof it will even have a measurably positive effect. How can anyone reasonably justify putting such a boondoggle in operation without first defining the GOAL? (What is the ‘correct’ temperature range? What is the ‘proper’ level of man-made CO2? How will we monitor and track our progress? Etc., Etc., Etc.)

    If you consider the REAL cost in human lives directly attributed to the ban on DDT – with arguably about the same level of proof that a ‘problem’ exists and that was the only solution – do we dare undertake even more drastic actions with a clearly understood cost in human lives, without even having established the desired Goal? Where is the ‘consensus’ on exactly what the TARGET is?

    Is that too much to ask?

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    Matt and Steve

    The really simple question for Matt is ‘how many more years of the current cooling trend would it take to convince you that the AGW computer models are wrong?’

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    Steve Green

    My real point — How are we going to objectively decide WHAT needs to be done (and establish our Goals), when its so difficult to get folks to admit that “the other side” just *might* have a valid point or two? It’s increasingly tricky to separate what we WANT to do, from what we NEED to do, or figure out what we GOTTA do.

    The truly SAD thing about all this is that Steve Fielding’s stated desire to “hear from both sides of the debate” is UNUSUAL. (When did just *suggesting* that taking an honest look at all sides of an issue became “out of the mainstream?”)

    It goes back to JoNova’s original comment on this thread, quoting Tony Jones: “You’ve heard from a whole range of sceptics, some of them scientists and some of them not… how do you make up your mind?” (I would point out the same is true for AGW proponents – there are many shouting for attention: some of them scientists, some who are not.) What other legitimate option is there besides… looking at the evidence? Why isn’t that OBVIOUS?

    If your mind is closed – and for many on both sides, that is absolutely the case – its going to be Real Difficult to simply review and accept evidence for what it IS, and then follow where the Data leads, without trying to push (or manipulate) Data in the direction that one wants it to Go…

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    Matt Buckels

    Your DDT analogy, Steve, demonstrates to me that we are probably not going to reach agreement on AGW any time soon Steve;)

    Stuart I’ve answered that before, but only by consulting experts… I asked at Brave New Climate and statistically you;d need about another 6 or 7 years I think it was. You could go and ask the climate scientists themselves if you like.

    And Steve I could not agree more with your last para of #29. But in terms of an open mind far more on my side used to be of the opinion CO2 was just a colourless and odourless gas of no consequence than the other way round:) Indicates a track record of having an open mind.

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    Matt Buckels

    Jo it sounds to me like you have a general problem with government, not just AGW policy. It is interesting I see a lot of criticism of climate models that complain there are no ” endless rules, regulations, updates, audits, cross checks”… maybe climate modellers are the true libertarian scientists.

    If I were looking for people who cared about countries with “few human rights, no free press, and an unfair legal system.” I’d be looking to the party that is firmly behind action against AGW.

    Strictly speaking a government imposed value on the price of carbon is the polar opposite of a cap and trade system. THe value is market imposed…. free market imposed.

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    Matt, you miss the point economically. If the government doesn’t set rules – like “we need to reduce carbon emissions by 22.3% by next wednesday” – or whatever the rule is, there is No Value for carbon emissions.

    Only government legislation creates the artificial ‘value’ and through legislation they can change the ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ to make the price fit a certain range.

    This is not a free market. It’s – as I said – wholly artificial.

    The only thing it guarantees is more money to banks and governments.

    At least if it was a tax, it cuts out the banker middle men, and only governments get the money.

    For ways that well meaning governments get results they didn’t intend – look no further than today’s front page of The Australian.
    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25617860-16741,00.html

    People spend their own money more carefully than governments spend yours.

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    Jeremy C

    Jo,

    Its interesting that both you and Matt B agree on human ingenuity. I agree with Mat that lowering emissions of the six Kyoto gases can be done with out any resort to a mythical breakthrough in technology (though as an engineer I’m always excited about new concepts). The issues is whether people want to do this and thats based on attitudes e.g. technological lock-in etc.

    I agree with you, Jo, that the ETS doesn’t appear to be a good idea, in its present form, mainly because it seems the coal lobby have finagled it to get their hands on our tax dollars. (smart piece of lobbying). I’d also say the ETS is a glaring example of how difficult it is for us Australians to change. The ETS seems to have degenerated from an instrument with the purpose of bringing about change i.e. reduce kyoto gases, to an instrument that protects against change e.g. the ponying up of so much of our tax dollars to coal generators (perhaps I’m wrong there). Thats seems so typical Australian (from a 5th generation Australian). However Jo, your opposition to Matt B’s points seems to be ideological given your comments in reply e.g.’ the government is the problem’ etc, really just repeating slogans.

    BTW can you give me an example of a (real) free market.

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    Jeremy C

    Jo,

    If I understand it nothing has an intrinsic value unless we ascribe a ‘value’ to it . Soo yes you are right gases are free or don’t have a monetary value but in this case is it that the value that may be ascribed to Kyoto gases or emissions stems from the value that maybe lost elsewhere due to the perceived outcome from emissions. Let me try and think of an example, take gold in times of trouble, it tends to rise as people pile into it because they fear that the value they have built up elsewhere (money, goods etc) maybe lost so that could be the way gold increases its value other than scarcity. Now thats an imperfect analogy, or an indirect analogy, but gold has no intrinsic value but its gets its increased value because people are trying to preserve value they have built up already. and a similar thing is happening here but not as direct

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    Jeremy C

    Please excuse the sloppiness of my post but my screen is acting up so that i can’t really see what I’ve written.

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    Matt Buckels

    Well that editorial in the Oz is an opinion piece that is a guess at some possible future scenario based around the stimulus package. I think instead one should look at Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq as examples of how governments get things wrong… and I’m not just talking about recent times either. drawing a long bow though most of these mistakes stem from political interference by powerful folks who want to use their money to dictate government policy… so arms dealers, coal miners, big oil take your pick. But that is life in a democracy… we al vote for some folks to figure out what is the best way to act… not sure how you can change that.

    And further to Jeremy’s post, indeed let nothing I post here suggest I am a supporter of Rudd’s ETS, or his and Wong’s entire approach to carbon trading and global warming. We sadly seem to have a robotic type government totally under the power of something, and a rabble of an opposition that does not know which end its ass and head are at. And a few nutbag independents in the mix, and the wonderful greens of course but politically they are in a bit of no-mans land on this one for now… given that they actually base policy on science and all.

    Again there is some excellent discussion on Bravenewclimate about cap and trade vs a Tax, and indeed Brook favours a tax. Interestingly the tax does seem to be favoured by more traditional greens I think… I dunno but it seems to stem from a distrust of markets also. to me a tax is all government imposed, and a market is as “free” as it can be as long as the targets are driven by the science reality.

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    Jeremy – “If I understand it nothing has an intrinsic value unless we ascribe a ‘value’ to it .”

    True in the most meaningless existential sense.

    Otherwise, being alive may have some intrinsic value to you. And if it does, then presumably there is a very real value to the things that keep you alive. Wheat, wool, bricks, clean water, oil / gas, penicillin, bread, beer and chips etc etc. Then having satisfied those needs, you might also value other less easy to define things, like a police force that means you probably won’t get mugged tomorrow on the way home; An education that helped you read the news.

    There is a pretty good approximation of a free market in most essential things – (albeit we in the west do a bad job of letting it work for agricultural products and thus keep many of the poorest countries in the world from earning a fair reward), and there are tariffs, taxes and unions on many other things. Aside from that, if there is a glut of grapes, the prices fall.

    Matt, you’re name calling again on the slightest hint of provokation. Now, merely because I say ‘Get the government out of the way’. You call me an ideologue. So do I always have to say “Let the government do it” and that would be ok? People who say that are known as communists.

    Governments have their place. But only very rarely should they set prices, or create a demand for something wholly artificial based on nothing but a committee’s opinion. Show us the evidence.

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    Matt Buckels

    Sorry Jo I’m not sure where I was name calling though. You said “unencumbered by endless rules, regulations, updates, audits, cross checks, training manuals, tax changes and occupational health and safety nanny state rules.” sounded more than just a suggestion about govt role in AGW.

    But look honestly I’m a fairly market oriented comfortable with capitalism generally fan of low government intervention kinda guy, and I just can’t fathom a lighter touch method for a government to limit carbon emissions than to say “Here is the most the economy can emit, based on the science, you producers of CO2 can figure it out amongst yourselves what the stuff is worth in the marketplace.” If there is a glut of carbon because many industries have figured out how to use less CO2 to turn a profit, the price will fall. With a tax it is “Hey guys this is what we want you to pay per tonne of carbon” – in this situation a drop in demand does not drop the price.

    And I can’t help but think that criticism of a cap and trade system is essentially a criticism of markets in general. Everything we trade is done in markets, why is it so evil for carbon?

    Any mode of controlling carbon, I admit, is ridiculous if CO2 does not cause AGW, I’m not arguing with that. And I’m not arguing with the “show us the evidence” line as I’m comfortable with the level of evidence at present, and you are not – I can live with that.

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    Queen Beene

    Would that be empirical evidence? Sure would like to see something more than models and graphs missing part of the historical warm period and cool period.

    Do we in the USA want to see cap & trade become law or a carbon tax based on the speculation thus far? The evidence seems to be propaganda to me. Corporations and government set to make profits on carbon. Climate change that no one can control. Science may eventually prove the sun controls climate. Maybe we will commence to build huge reflectors……

    How has Europe benefited from cap & trade the last 10 years?

    Until something is proven, corporations & government can keep their dirty mitts off my money and freedom.

    Wishful thinking on my part as most of the morons running the USA need to be kicked out of Washington and replaced with some folks with common sense. And the “wizards” behind the curtain of the Federal Reserve, making free money, need to be evicted.

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    Jeremy C

    Yes, you are right, there are things that have intrinsic value…….. food, well, a proper cup of coffee that is, clothing, unless its a polyester shirt, shelter except, if its been done by a developer in cahoots with the NSW government

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    Tel

    Sorry Jo I’m not sure where I was name calling though. You said “unencumbered by endless rules, regulations, updates, audits, cross checks, training manuals, tax changes and occupational health and safety nanny state rules.” sounded more than just a suggestion about govt role in AGW.

    In the strict sense, a debate on AGW should only consider the direct scientific evidence of AGW. No argument there. If we were arguing over the boiling/freezing points of water then I’d be doing my measurements and comparing with your results and the argument would be completely settled in the physical world. That would be a satisfactory outcome all round.

    In the AGW case, the evidence isn’t as direct and cleanly repeatable as heating a pot on the stove. I’m not going to drill my own ice cores, I’m not going to punt my own fleet of satellites into space to measure radiation. I could run my own climate model code (and maybe tempted to do so at some stage) but even a basic run requires considerable time and energy and some medium investment in computing hardware (yes I’m in the industry, but I don’t buy one iota of computing power that I don’t have an immediate use for because the tech ages so fast).

    The result is that I’m only in a position to audit minor parts of the evidence collection process, use some of my intuitive gut judgement, and read up on the work of other people (e.g. Steve McIntyre) who have chased up various small details of the evidence as best as they could. I can also ask AGW supporters to explain their understanding of the evidence and see if that sounds reasonable from my own perspective. I fully accept that I’m in a limited position to make a completely reasoned judgement, but we live in a Democracy so I cannot abdicate my judgement to someone else, and even if I could, I would have no particular basis to trust that person.

    I can also consider the past record of the entities concerned, and their overall approach to this problem as compared with other problems that might be of a similar nature (scientific evidence resulting in regulative policy).

    There are a number of perspectives that disturb me. Our Australian government has not taken the trouble to provide any sort of evidence of AGW in a format that is both rigorous and well indexed and approachable. The official government response is that the debate is over, it happened amongst scientists and you and me were not invited. That sort of attitude doesn’t seem likely to get accurate answers to a difficult and complex measurement and derivation of conclusions from evidence.

    Senator Fielding is asking questions like, “Why have we seen cooling when human production of CO2 is known to be increasing?” and it’s a totally reasonable question. I could personally give several answers to this question from both the pro-AGW and anti-AGW perspective but what deeply bothers me is that our government does not seem able to provide any answer at all. Yes, this is unrelated to the physical evidence, but it does relate to my personal judgement of the policy makers that are entrusted with my future.

    Then I could look at previous decision-making processes and judge whether the outcome of those processes has been successful. For example, most electronic equipment in Australia is now lead free, and hence suffers random failures caused by tin whiskers (yes you can include Airbus avionics in that list) and this was mandated by the RoHS in the EU (the Australian people had no say, but we have to live with the results). The stated intention of this policy was to avoid the nanograms of lead that people were absorbing through the lead solder at joints in their copper water pipes (probably related to the urban legend that the Roman empire crumbled due to lead pipes).

    There was the dodgy science that turned DDT into an environmental bad guy and to this day DDT is listed as the primary cause for the near-extinction of the American eagle (while the boring and mundane reason of huge amounts of hunting is ignored). I won’t dwell on that, it seems you’ve been over that one before.

    Then we could talk about mandatory bicycle helmet laws and the statistics showing that cyclists were no safer after the laws were passed (but a lot of people were discouraged from cycling).

    And let’s get onto the welfare state. France has multiple generations of people who have never had a job, Australia is heading in that direction. We have welfare ghettos where almost no one is working (officially they are not unemployed, because of the sneaky stats collection that we use). I can well appreciate the sympathy of giving someone a helping hand when they are TEMPORARILY out of work, to keep them going until they get back into the market again. I cannot accept that our current position of spending half the federal tax budget on an ever-growing welfare population is sustainable even in the short to medium term. We are heading for a crash, even before the fossil fuel runs out.

    In short it is difficult to find one single Nanny State success story. My somewhat simple minded conclusion is that the process must be broken. When I see the AGW and Carbon Trading policy cranking through the same process and built around the same system of political bandwagonism and vested interests manipulating the discussion while shutting down legitimate questions, I’m conditioned to expect another failure. I’ve seen so many failures delivered by this mechanism in the past.

    Both Penny Wong and Peter Garret are trained Lawyers with a background in political activism. Neither are well versed in either business management, or anything related to the physical sciences. Sure, this has nothing whatsoever to do with AGW, but it does make me question their ability to even understand the evidence presented to them. Someone (probably several people) standing in the background must be feeding them, thus I cannot fully appreciate the situation until I understand who these shadow people are and what is their background / motivations / expectations. If these shadow people are on the ball, why can’t they feed an answer to Fielding?

    Hopefully, this goes some ways towards explaining why I fully support Jo’s position in probing issues beyond the direct AGW evidence.

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    Tel

    And I can’t help but think that criticism of a cap and trade system is essentially a criticism of markets in general. Everything we trade is done in markets, why is it so evil for carbon?

    Even though I believe in Capitalism, I don’t come even close to believing that a market is automatically the solution to any arbitrary problem that might come along. Why not make our legal system more efficient by creating a market in Judges? Maybe Mexico should just accept that the drug kingpins pay bribes to the police because it’s a market so it must be efficient? Maybe newspapers should just sell “truth” for the highest bidder and we could have a market in that too? How about trading in votes, I mean the ancient Greeks did it, and in marginal electorates they do it now (unofficially by offering political favours), so why not make it fair and upfront by just buying votes for cash?

    If I did believe that controlling CO2 production was justified, then I’d be supporting a simple and straight Carbon tax. The increased price of fossil fuels would quite logically interact with our existing marketplace, there would be no need to setup silly trade in indulgences. Taxing Carbon directly on a per-kilo basis would be easier to administer, there would be one particular rate that everyone recognized and could plan around. Also, it would be much easier to audit and easer to check whether anyone was cheating on the scheme.

    The cap-n-trade system has the problem common to funny-money currencies that only by seeing the entire system can you actually track down the real value of any part of that system (and it is generally designed that the entire system cannot be seen by the participants, e.g. the US dollar M3 series). It becomes impossible to know whether special favours are being offered under the counter (and by implication, we must presume they always are).

    By the way, before you ask, I have a high opinion of human reliability — humans will reliably find ways to advantage themselves and feather their own nest, and maximise their own chance of survival. All the humans who were unable to do that, are dead…

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    Matt, I didn’t say all rules regulations etc et al were bad. But we are talking about a ‘free’ market based on an artificial construct that’s hard to measure, has no proven effects except good ones, and I’m objecting to calling it a ‘free market’ – because there’s nothing free about it. It can’t exist without govt decree, and it would dissolve into corruption immediately, without all the government mandated audits, checks and balances.

    Once it exists there would be massive vested interests (they are already there just on the promise of it existing) that would stop it being unwound.

    “why is it so evil for carbon?” Because it’s an artificially certified nullity we are trading. It’s a fiat currency. It’s not like trading bricks. It’s hard to cheat with bricks. You get caught out by reality pretty fast. And people can’t just get paid to say, ‘not destroy bricks’. “Pay me to not build this factory so dirty”, is a bit like saying “Pay me not to destroy this brick”. It sounds like extortion for a reason. The incentives are perverse. It would be very difficult to manage fair trade of hard-to-measure and forge-able things in say, Australia, but we’re suggesting doing it with Angola, Haiti, Cambodia, Turkmenistan, Mongolia, Tanzania… Nigeria. Carbon trading has to be world wide or we are just concentrating pollution in the countries with the least controls.

    And the money we pay to ‘people’ in poor countries through schemes like this that have to be certified by ‘officials’ ends up in the pockets of aspiring mafiosi. We feed those who cheat the most. They can use their new undeserved riches to screw the poor a bit more.

    Tax is just the lesser evil in this case. At least the public could vote it away when they wised up, and if it was a broad based tax, it would act like an extension of a Sales Tax. If we wound back other taxes, it could potentially even possibly improve our tax system slightly, (accidentally).

    We humans need the reality and discipline of dealing with Real Things to stop the smart and scrupulous from diddling everyone else.

    You’re comfortable with what evidence BTW? What does it for you?

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    Stuart

    Listening to the radio interview that senator Fielding conducted after the meeting with Penny Wong and Co. it was interesting to hear that the government apparently now use sea surface temperatures to confirm that increased CO2 levels cause warming. Now I think every SST graph I have seen doesn’t show any warming for the last ten years either. If this is correct I think they may have weakened the pro-AGW significantly given they clearly have no answer for the question as to why temperatures have remained static while CO2 levels have increased over the last decade.

    And by the well done senator Fielding for having the guts to ask these questions, you have my vote next election.

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    Jo, have been following you for a few months from a similar background of accepting the “consensus”. Events of the past week or so have both excited me and enraged me. Here’s what I wrote to my local member today, who (helpfully) is also in the ministry. I would encourage others to write to their federal members in a similar vein.

    [quote="Glenn"]I am a constituent of yours: a dedicated recycler, committed to growing as much
    of my own fresh produce as my busy schedule allows, bringing up my children to
    lead environmentally sustainable lives. I consider myself well-educated and a
    dispassionate observer of public discourse. For years I have believed it when
    told “the earth is warming, and man-made carbon-dioxide is causing it”. Over
    the past few months, though, I have learned that there is good reason to doubt
    this conclusion.

    Climate change believers and deniers are equally passionate, and there is a lot
    of irrelevant material in what both say. Calls to authority, ad hominem
    attacks, topic avoidance – both sides use them to their discredit. But in
    science, observable evidence trumps the lot, and it doesn’t matter who says it
    or how many people back it. A fact is a fact, and the case for anthropogenic
    global warming is seriously undermined by the observable evidence of the last
    decade.

    On 15 June 2009 the Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator the Hon
    Penny Wong, the Chief Scientist, Penny Sackett and a prominent advocate of
    anthropogenic global warming, Prof Will Steffen, were unable to convince
    Senator Steve Fielding that an emissions trading scheme is necessary when
    global temperatures have remained steady over the past decade and man-made
    carbon emissions have continued unabated.

    These are people who should be able to explain to a reasonably educated person
    why, under these conditions, an emissions trading scheme is necessary. Yet
    they appear to have failed to do just that. There are two possible
    explanations: either Senator Fielding’s position is intransigent or there is
    simply no scientific justification to proceed with a scheme, given the
    observable evidence. We may never know Senator Fieldings’ motivation, but we
    should all be able to assess whether there is any justification.

    The proposed emissions trading scheme will hurt ordinary Australians, the
    Government has admitted as much. If we are going to inflict this wound on
    ourselves by taxing carbon emissions it must be because we are convinced that
    doing so will halt a rise in global temperatures. In this context, Senator
    Fielding’s question – why has the earth not warmed for a decade when carbon
    emissions have continued unabated? – is a fair one. In fact, it is the central
    question.

    Theories of anthropogenic global warming are based on models containing
    mathematical representations of observed climate phenomena and presumptions
    about future conditions. But computer-generated models are essentially
    equations which demonstrate theories – they are not evidence. The scientific
    method involves proving theories through observable evidence, and the
    observable evidence of the last ten years does not support theories of
    anthropogenic global warming. Emissions have continued to rise but
    temperatures have not. There has been warming and cooling in the past, climate
    change, per se, is a fact. Whether recent climate change is man-made, however,
    is not “settled science”.

    We do not need to know what is causing climate change to be able to say that
    man-made carbon-dioxide isn’t doing it. The evidence supports the conclusion
    that it does not have a dominant effect. Under these circumstances it is
    reasonable to expect the proponents of an emissions trading scheme to explain
    how these observed phenomena are consistent with their plan.

    In light of Senator Wong’s failure to answer Senator Fielding’s simple
    question, every member of parliament voting on emissions trading scheme
    legislation should demand to hear what he heard, and consider for themselves
    whether the Government’s plan is sensible or not. I would humbly suggest that
    you lead the charge.

    Failing that, I would be grateful if you would ask your ministerial colleague,
    Senator Wong, to make public the information that Ms Sackett and Professor
    Steffen presented at their meeting with Senator Fielding. If that is done, at
    the very least, ordinary Australians can decide how to advise their elected
    representatives on this important issue. I, for one, would advise you not to
    support it next time it is presented to the House.

    Yours sincerely,[/quote]

    And Jo, Linda says “hi”.

    Cheers,

    GGP

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    Frederic from France just sent me this:

    I got news of the exchange between Sen. Fielding and Minister Wong. It seems the debunking tactic in your Skeptics guide has been extensively briefed to Sen Fielding by Dr Evans and is wreaking the Greenhouse of cards, lol.
    Congratulations for your good job!
    Fred / Admin skyfal.free.fr

    http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2009/s2599201.htm
    “STEVE FIELDING: Well, look when I put forward the question – isn’t it true that carbon emissions have been going up and global temperature hasn’t – they wanted to rephrase my question not answer it so I have got an agreement with Penny Wong that she would answer my question over the next day or so.”

    Thanks Fred!

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    Stuart, thanks,
    yes David (as in Evans) tells me that they were trying to dodge the atmospheric question by talking about “sea-surface temperatures”.
    He also said they started off talking non-stop for half an hour about how solar irradiance is not causing the warming – which all of the four experts Fielding brought along knew quite well, and didn’t dispute. What a waste of everyone’s time. I’ll write more about the meeting soon.

    I think it was the closest thing to a proper debate that I’ve heard in Australian politics on climate…

    Glenn,
    Great letter. Polite and reasonable. Well informed. Thanks for sharing it with us. Yes we should all send in a version “Show us the evidence”. Polls and letters count. Say Hi back to Linda!
    Cheers
    Jo

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    Matt Buckels

    Well it was Fielding who mentioned he thought it was related to solar flares and irradiance.

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    Anne-Kit Littler

    Thanks for your link to the ABC radio interview, Joanne. I accidentally clicked on the morning news program above before I realised my mistake, but I listened long enough to hear an item about a report published by Obama’s people which was touted to now be “absolutely, conclusively, inequivocally proving beyond any doubt”, with “scientific information” that climate change is NOT JUST A FUTURE EVENT IT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW BEFORE OUR VERY EYES AND WE CANNOT DRAG OUR FEET ANY LONGER!

    To quote at random: “Average US (sic) temperatures have gone up by 2 degrees F in the last 50 years and MIGHT (emphasis mine) rise 11 degrees by 2100″ (It didn’t mention whether this was surface temps or atmospheric temps!)

    “Sea levels are also EXPECTED to rise with the area around New York the worst hit”

    “The UN are warning of MEGADISASTERS affecting 10s of millions of people who live in big cities threatened by rising sea levels and [wait for it ...] EARTHQUAKES!!”

    (Emphases mine)

    So much for “clear and present danger”, but really, earthquakes??
    But I suspect that, sadly, the great listening public wouldn’t have picked up on that little folly.

    That’s scare tactics for you. It’s clear why they’ve enrolled the Hollowood brigade in their propaganda campaign.

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    Matt Buckels

    I’m pretty sure you’ll find there was no suggestion that the earthquakes were caused by AGW, rather stating the fact that some of the megadisasters would be due to mega cities existing in known earthquake zones.

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    Anne-Kit Littler

    Baloney!

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    Matt Buckels

    “Some 90 percent of disasters are of climatic origin, caused by storms, floods, drought or other extreme weather conditions, according to the UN’s weather agency.

    Holmes said some of the world’s biggest cities housing millions of people were highly exposed to disasters, being located in coastal areas that would be threatened by rising sea levels, or in earthquake zones.

    “The risks of megadisasters in some of these megacities are rising all the time,” Holmes warned, predicting a lot more deaths in future natural disasters.”

    Well AK, if you want to interpret that as “Climate change increases earthquakes, I guess you can. You’d be wrong, mind you, but it does kinda indicate that maybe some of your other conclusions are possibly not sensible interpretations either.

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    Anne-Kit Littler

    Well Matt, if you had taken the trouble to go to the link provided in Jo’s post #47 you would have heard the news report I referred to in its correct context.

    Unfortunately it is no longer there as it was literally “yesterday’s news”. The quote, complete with soundbite interviews, was exactly as I put it in my post above. The reporter was quoting from Obama’s “comprehensive” climate report and the listening public was inevitably led to believe that earthquakes are a consequence of climate change; I challenge anyone to a different interpretation.

    You can nitpick all you want, if the reporter knew any different she acted in bad faith to get a catastrophic slant on the story.

    It would have assisted your own conclusions and interpretations if you had actually listened to what I was quoting from

    Caveat lector!

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    Matt Buckels

    Ahh so you were quoting poor journalism and assuming it was a UN conspiracy… I see;) I read your direct quote and still don;t see your logic? … :“The UN are warning of MEGADISASTERS affecting 10s of millions of people who live in big cities threatened by rising sea levels and [wait for it ...] EARTHQUAKES!!”

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    Anne-Kit Littler

    If your logic is on a par with your general knowledge of world literature I can’t say I’m surprised.

    Let me spell it out so even you might understand:

    UN Report on Megadisasters caused by Man Made Climate Change says, “Big cities at risk of earthquakes and sea level rise” = disingenuous juxtaposition of words open to misinterpretation and unnecessary fear mongering.

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    Matt Buckels

    Juxtaposition of words by whom AK… it all looks pretty clear to me until you try to spin a yarn that the UN is claiming climate change causes earthquakes. As for world literature… are you still on about that Danish bloke?

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    Anne-Kit Littler

    Here’s another interesting evaluation of the Obama report by Roger Pielke Jr:

    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2009/06/obamas-phil-cooney-and-new-ccsp-report.html

    Pielke notes that the report doesn’t just misrepresent his own research, which actually disputes that we’re suffering more losses thanks to global warming. It also implies that the damage done by warming includes damage actually done by an earthquake and the 9-11 terrorist attacks!

    If the proof and effects of man-made warming are so clear, why resort to all these exaggerations, fudges and deceptions?

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    Matt Buckels

    I just noticed this little contradiction on the good Senator’s website: “Family First has a recycling scheme that everyone can easily do to help the environment by cutting greenhouse gases by 1.8 million tonnes and saving more than eight gigalitres of water and it costs hardly anything. Our Container Deposit Scheme has the thumbs up from green groups and community groups and we’re continuing to pressure the government to make it happen.”

    why is he so excited about cutting 1.8 million tonnes of a harmless gas?

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    thor von oden

    hello again, been away for a while, got nothing more to say regarding climate change. Its hopeless and in the hands of GOD. Today, Micheal Jackson died, and the world media is pouring accolades on him. Its hard to believe, that suddenly, a hard core, systematic satanic pedophile is recieving expressions of grief and even loss. The world is from today a slightly safer place with mr jacsons departure to hell.His supposed contribution to music pales in significans compared to the damage he has done with his satanic abuse of children. SOBER UP NOW WORLD!!!!!!!!!!, Sincerly thorvonoden@yahoo.com. God bless the rightous

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    Matt Buckels

    Thor moments like this sceptics and believers should unite in thanks there are not more like you around:)

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    Glenn

    Well, it’s been over six weeks, and no reply from my local member (Bob McMullan). Time to give him a poke and see what happens. Stay tuned!

    GGP

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    Glenn

    And finally, after eight weeks (and a subtle reminder) here’s the answer from a government member of parliament:

    “Dear Glen,

    Thank you for your correspondence concerning climate change. My apologies for not responding to you sooner.

    I understand and appreciate your views on this issue and I thank you for bringing them to my attention.

    The view of the Rudd Labor Government is that the overwhelming body of evidence suggests that climate change is a real and serious threat to our prosperity.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change-an international body that assesses the latest science of climate change-stated that “Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in [human produced] greenhouse gas concentrations”.

    Scientists are certain that climate change is already happening. Global average surface temperature increased over the past 100 years by about 0.7°C. Scientists consider that warming will continue as a result of past, current and future emissions.
    If we don’t act, it will only get worse with changing temperatures and rainfall patterns, more droughts, floods, water shortages, rising sea levels and extreme weather.

    Australia – already the driest inhabited continent on Earth – is particularly vulnerable to climate change. The longer we wait to act on climate change, the more it will cost and the worse its effects will be.
    If levels of greenhouse gases continue to rise, the resulting climate change could lead to serious impacts on coastal communities, iconic areas such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Kakadu wetlands, biodiversity, agriculture, water supplies, human health as well as transport and communications infrastructure.

    In Australia, the projected average warming of 0.4 to 2.0°C by the year 2030 would lead to a 10-50 per cent increase in days over 35°C at many places. Climate change is projected to increase the severity and frequency of many natural disasters, such as bushfires, cyclones, hailstorms and floods.

    Australia’s alpine regions are expected to have less snow cover. Water flows into the Murray-Darling Basin, are likely to decline by 15 per cent if the temperature warms by 1°C. Reductions in flows of around 50 % are possible by the end of the century.

    Australia has a responsibility to address the nation’s relatively high per capita emissions. The Rudd Labor Government is committed to ensuring Australia meets its responsibilities in facing this global challenge.
    This includes a comprehensive approach to:
    * reduce emissions in Australia in the short and long term
    * work with the international community to develop a global response that is effective and fair
    * prepare for the inevitable impacts of climate change.
    Fundamental to the Government’s climate change strategy is a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. It is the best way to reduce carbon pollution while minimising the impact on business and households.

    If you would like more information on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, go to http://www.climatechange.gov.au/whitepaper

    Thank you for again for taking the time to write to me with your concerns.

    Bob McMullan
    Member for Fraser”

    - Such is the “party line”. IMHO it blindly relies on unreliable source material (much like yesterday’s ASPI report) and spouts the usual platitudes intended to mollify the chattering classes.

    I would be grateful for the assistance of readers and hosts for a suitably pointed reply.

    Cheers,

    GGP

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    Anne-Kit Littler

    Hi Glenn, I applaud you for writing to the guy, but I’m afraid you’re wasting your time. The Australian Labor Party does not allow their parlamentarians to vote against the Party line, nor even to abstain. So regardless of what the guy may think of climate change personally, he would not be allowed to agree with you officially.

    Having said that, there are quite a few “realists” (I prefer that to “sceptics”) on both sides of politics. They just daren’t speak up. Apart from Liberal Senator Dennis Jensen, and he’s just lost the preselection vote for his seat, so won’t be there after the next election.

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    Glenn

    Oh Anne, I know, but before you go in hard you’ve got to give the guys a chance to show what they’re made of. It’s only fair. Having now demonstrated that Bob’s just one of the guys, I feel completely justified in treating him as such. It’s just common courtesy to give everyone the benefit of the doubt first time around, don’t you think?

    GGP

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    Maybe a Trackstick would do the trick.

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    might all manage our self just slightly better, your posting just emphasises this.

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