Saturday, 1 August 2009

An RDS, not an ETS

In today’s Australian, it says that the Coalition wants a new “emissions trading scheme” that they believe will improve on the one Labour developed.

The reality is, as I have said many times before, that such moves will only make the ultimate end of catastrophic climate change in which southern Australia’s rivers become dry beds at the same time as an annual super-monsoon fills Lake Eyre permanently but only turns the interior from a dry desert into a tropical land so infertile it is of less use for primary production than at pre-industrial carbon dioxide levels.

There is no doubt that agreement from the major parties on the global warming issue is a good thing. The trouble is that in the key electorates of the mortgage belt greenhouse scepticism is economically profitable because it allows privileged low energy costs to be maintained, whereas serious means to lower atmospheric CO2 levels would raise them not merely to those of Europe or East Asia, but to orders of magnitude higher.

Instead of an ETS (emissions trading scheme) what Australia needs and has needed since at least 1983 when Barrie Pittock wrote his first post on the likely results of global warming (all of which have been verified by a ten degree widening of the climatological tropics in thirty-five years) is an RDS.

RDS stands for road demolition scheme and would involve a multilateral plan to demolish every existing freeway over the continent and to invest every cent of government (or private) transport funding in rail. Laws that absolutely forbid all road building apart from local traffic streets would be an essential component so that the ecological catastrophe wastage of public money on roads has caused can be reversed or ameliorated. Rail is admirably suited to Australia’s flat, fragile environmental because of its energy efficiency over long distances and requirement of flat relief. People may think that redeveloping extremely old railways will be expensive, but the paradox is that once road capacity is drastically cut as an RDS would do, there becomes a financial incentive to invest in rail because only reductions in road capacity could make rail profitable. Consequently Australia can take the steps it should have began in 1983 or earlier toward a car-free continent without loss of mobility.

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