Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Split on action is what needs resolution

According to a poll in today’s West Australian, corporations are in grave doubt that serious actions to reduce the impacts of global warming will have significant effects.

As many as half the corporations internationally surveyed think that measures to combat climate change will not affect their profits at all – apparently there was no “degree of effect” question in the survey. However, the number of investors who say global warming is a major threat has actually declined compared to the previous survey three years ago. This despite the fact that Perth’s rainfall over the “wet” season from May to August has, based on the rainfall of the past seven years, declined by as much as forty percent compared to averages free from the influence of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, as can be seen from the maps below of rainfall in 2000 to the present:
(I excluded the relatively wet season of 2005 for space reasons, though it crucially shows how rainfall changes have reduced temperature warming. With rainfall patterns throughout Australia more like pre-1967 than other years since 1997, temperatures were a full degree hotter than years with modern rainfall patterns).

What is really problematic is what could be driving the tendency of people to not view global warming as a major threat with the dramatic evidence from rainfall changes in Western Australia (perversely unknown to most scientists, let alone the general public).

Given that most people in Europe and Asia have little understanding of environmental conditions in the humid tropics, Australia or Southern Africa, and very few work on the land, it’s interesting to see why they see global warming as so much more of a threat. Could it be that they fear climate change will lose them income from tourism, or that they fear losing the comfortable living conditions from a cool climate, or that they fear rightly the inability to adapt to even hotter and more humid conditions?? The perverse thing is that, as I have noted, to be anything other than totally inhospitable to families and the less fortunate it pretends to support, the Enriched World would need to eliminate income taxes and the services and regulations paid with them, which is impossible in a population where many depend on welfare. High Enriched World taxes create a culture where people become totally independent and do not form relationships.

Little is done meanwhile to correct the genuine problem of Australia’s extremely high emissions from brown coal and highly fuel-inefficient road and air transport. These are also the things which the free market does little about because of Australia’s abundant and not fully exploited coal and oil shale resources. They should thus be the essential topic of every international climate summit. If the Enriched World has any economic stake in maintaining its cool climates (which one can doubt given the superior economic viability of agriculture in hotter climates) then it has a much larger stake in changing the greenhouse-intensive Australian economy than in changing its own lifestyles. A summit with one definite aim and many participants should have the greatest possible chance of success even with numerous obstacles from within Australia.

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