Global-warming scepticism challenged (letter)by Tim WallaceNews Weekly
, August 2, 2008
Dave Boland ("Farmers and carbon tax", Letters, News Weekly
, June 7) says that I have "stated that News Weekly
should accept the fact of global warming because of the alleged overwhelming scientific support for it".
His paraphrasing of what I actually wrote is a good example of the type of sensationalist media reporting he is otherwise ostensibly opposed to.
My chosen words were a little more nuanced, a suggestion that rationality demands conceding "that scientific opinion overwhelmingly supports the view that global-warming is occurring (and at an unprecedented pace); that human-created greenhouse gases are more than likely a major contributor; and that the precautionary principle dictates taking action over the things we can control, sooner rather than later" (Letters, News Weekly
, May 24).
Where is my evidence? Well, one could start by looking at the work of the CSIRO (still a reputable research organisation from what I hear) or NASA or any one of hundreds of climate research organisations around the world.
Personally, I put a little more credence in these sources rather than in those routinely trotted out by climate-change sceptics - such as that spurious petition of 17,000 scientists that has more holes in it than a Swiss cheese, that British documentary by an anti-environmentalist with a track record in beat-ups, Dr S. Fred Singer's latest self-styled contrarian science group, or publications from the Heartland Institute and any other US free-market think-tanks quoting "facts" that are out of date or simply spin.
This last point is important, for the argument against taking action to curb human-created greenhouse gases is slippery. This is how the trajectory goes: global warming is not occurring, but if it is occurring it has nothing to do with human emissions, but if human emissions are the cause then global warming isn't all that bad and may even be beneficial.
Be that as it may, I join Mr Boland in asking News Weekly
to look at the carbon impost on farmers. I point you to the work of Dr Christine Jones and the Soil Carbon Manifesto (www.carboncoalition.com.au), which says that the best way to mitigate carbon emissions is to encourage farmers to plant perennial grass species and crops to restore the carbon levels in soils depleted by fossil-fuel-dependent agricultural practices.
I also urge you to take a look at the work the CSIRO is doing to fulfil the Pope's exhortation for environmental action rooted in social justice, specifically in developing low-emission distributed energy generation, targeting the uptake of small-scale energy-generation systems.
Distributed systems, small-scale generation, giving people energy independence...?
Sounds like the principle of subsidiarity to me - a principle that I was under the impression News Weekly
Surry Hills, NSW