Friday, 25 June 2010

Australia’s toxic politics

In The Age two weeks ago, there was an article about how the major parties have not been able to deal effectively with the issue of global warming. It argues that it is very difficult to achieve serious reductions because of the problematic debates over such issues as:
  1. questioning of the science inside academia
  2. superficial public debate among politicians
  3. the power of outright greenhouse sceptics such as Graham Jacobs in the political arena
  4. the submission of the government to the demands of industries with a vested interest in allowing unrestricted carbon emissions
  5. a population that in many ways possesses that same vested interest because of the resultant low electricity prices (one sixth of the cheapest electricity in most of Eurasia)
  6. foreign nations unprepared to force Australia to reduce its emissions and foreign populaces who do not know this is so critical an issue
  7. the relinquishment of mining profits taxes that if spent exclusively on (urban and rural) public transit and freeway demolition would do a great deal to compensate for the huge energy use and greenhouse emissions in mining (especially coal and light metals)
The Age is certainly right that an effective response involves much more than environmental policy. It involves planning that is much more long-term than electoral politics allows, as Labor is discovering now with the replacement of Kevin Rudd with Julia Gillard. It involves recognising that the paleoclimatic absence of Mediterranean climates suggests they will not exist in a future hotter Earth. It involves recognising that Australia must eliminate agriculture or completely change its crops to cope with the future aridity of the Mediterranean southwest. It involves recognising that plant and animal species need to have a chance to move unhindered by agriculture to suitable locations in the one continent remotely representative of Earth’s geological history.

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