OPINION: by Jeffry Babb News Weekly
Carbon emissions hysteria is economic suicide
, August 2, 2008
A mania requires some incident or event to get it started, and then develops a momentum of its own, writes Jeffry Babb.Popular manias have recurred throughout history, and the latest bubble gripping Australia is the global warming lunacy.
The language is important. Notice how the term "global warming" has now been dumped by the claquers in the semi-official organs of opinion formation, such as the "quality" papers and the ABC, in favour of "climate change".
It is difficult to sell a policy based on something that is not happening any more, such as global warming, while the climate has the advantage that it is indubitably changing. It always has done and always will.
A mania requires some incident or event to get it started, and then develops a momentum of its own, until it rapidly deflates and collapses when its disassociation from reality becomes evident.
Just why Australia should lead the world in combating "climate change" is not evident in terms of furthering the nation's interests. The main impetus seems to be Kevin Rudd's desire to get a seat at the table in international diplomatic negotiations and fulfil his desire to become a world leader.Emissions per hectare
Australia has a high level of greenhouse gas emission per capita, mainly due to our export of natural resources. On the other hand, Australia as a nation, on the basis of greenhouse gas emissions per hectare, is one of the lowest greenhouse gas producers in the world.
Just to clarify this, our per head emissions are high; but, on an area basis, we are very low. Thus, as our population is relatively small and our land area is very large, we emit a very small proportion of the world's greenhouse gases, only about 1.4 per cent.
No matter what we do, we cannot change the world's climate, and it is intellectually dishonest to say we can. The world's weather does not recognise international borders.
Just to put the issue of global warming into an international context, the respected Asian Wall Street Journal
, commenting on the recent Group of Eight meeting in Japan, said:
"The Group of Eight may be waking up to the cost of fighting global warming, but in Australia the opposite is happening. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has promised to implement an emissions-trading scheme by 2010, claiming it would be 'reckless not to act'.
"Rhetoric aside, Mr. Rudd just wants to do what every Labor politician likes: tax industry and redistribute the proceeds, at huge cost to the economy." (Asian Wall Street Journal
, July 14, 2008).
It is all very well to talk about our "obligation to the future", but without high greenhouse gas emitting industries like oil and gas, broad acre agriculture, mining and cheap coal-fired power stations to provide energy for downstream raw materials processing, Australia doesn't have an economy - or a future.
Look at what is happening already. Mr Don Voelte, head of Woodside Petroleum - Australia's largest stand-alone petroleum company - has warned that more than $60 billion in planned investments in liquefied natural gas (LNG) are likely to be shelved due to the Rudd emissions-trading scheme. Just what the Rudd carbon tax will do to Australia is evident only days after the scheme's announcement.
Mr Voelte told reporters that the new carbon-emissions scheme would make it impossible for two $30 billion West Australian offshore LNG projects to go ahead (The Australian
, July 18, 2008).
First, a new tax; now, carbon trading. Australia is now more like Zimbabwe than a developed economy in terms of sovereign risk for petroleum producers.
We are being asked to commit economic suicide so that Kevin Rudd can be a "world leader".
It took Australia 20 years to recover from the Whitlam Government's economic vandalism, but the Rudd carbon-trading plan is far more dangerous. The intellectual vacuity of the "carbon bubble" will become evident in time.
"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly," wrote Charles Mackay in the preface to the 1852 edition of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
, one of the seminal texts on the madness that grips nations from time to time.
Recently, we have had the "tech wreck", and the "new economy" bubble where in the Internet economy profits were to be measured in terms of "eyeballs", not money. And we are currently living through the deflation of the property bubble in the United States, the United Kingdom and other parts of the world, producing the worst financial crisis since the 1930s Great Depression.Overvalued
Ominously, Australian residential property is now vastly overvalued compared to just about every other industrialised nation.
All popular enthusiasms have essentially the same structure. Norman Cohn investigated the history of religious millenarian movements in early modern Europe in The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages
(1957) and witch hunts in Europe's Inner Demons: the Demonization of Christians in Medieval Christendom
The doubters and opponents are always the demons - hence "warming deniers" are cast in the same mould as Holocaust-deniers.- Jeffry Babb