May 24th 2008

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Rudd Budget targets 'middle-class' welfare

EDITORIAL: 'Whom the gods wish to destroy...'

LABOUR MARKET: Post-school education and training: a national crisis

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Oil imports threaten to blow out foreign debt

ENERGY: Germany's rapid development of renewable energy

SCHOOLS: Dubious deal offered to pupils' parents / Faith schools' autonomy defended

CIVIL LIBERTIES: Political correctness suppresses free speech

ABORTION: Why abortion should remain a crime

PUBLIC AFFAIRS: The indispensable role of government

DEFENCE: Lest we forget our duty of care to servicemen

OLYMPIC GAMES: Clean-up or purges? Beijing prepares for the Games

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS: Is the United Nations beyond repair?

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Westerners acquiescing to creeping sharia / Oil fuelling world's conflicts

OPINION: Why we should encourage creation of new Australian states

Plight of young home-buyers (letter)

In defence of global warming (letter)

Wrong way to tackle inflation (letter)

US presidential elections (letter)

Life, not euthanasia (letter)

BOOKS: THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD: Essays Catholic and Contemporary, by John Haldane

Books promotion page

In defence of global warming (letter)

by Tim Wallace

News Weekly, May 24, 2008

Possibly I am the only reader of News Weekly who doesn't see conservatism as a position hostile to conservation; but let me go out on a limb again and gently suggest that writing off the global-warming issue as some giant conspiracy really is garbage.

If you are going to be rational about this, then you need to at least concede 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.

Why? Because prevention is much more sensible than cure.

As Peter Westmore rightly notes, predicting the weather long-term is a notoriously inexact science (News Weekly, March 29, 2008); but I'm finding it hard to reconcile his dismissing of the considerable body of scientific evidence in favour of the "anecdotal evidence" of a few recent months of unseasonably cold weather being evidence the world may now even be cooling.

I've seen this argument trotted out elsewhere, and it's glib to the point of being ignorant, because the climate models predict more extreme and unpredictable weather patterns along with the general global-warming trend.

I know I'm going to upset some people by saying this, but if you're going to make a persuasive case that scientific opinion is divided on global-warming, then you need to do better than quote religiously the usual suspects from free-market think-tanks bankrolled by polluting industries (who will do and say almost anything to ensure their profits keep rolling in).

That includes putting as much store as you do on statements from the so-called Non-Governmental International Panel on Climate Change, whose idiosyncratic creator, S. Fred Singer, is not a climatologist and has a reported financial relationship with oil companies like Exxon that have a vested interest in suppressing renewable energy technology.

If you want to quote someone religiously, try the current Pope, who said this on January 1:

"The problems looming on the horizon are complex and time is short. In order to face this situation effectively, there is a need to act in harmony. One area where there is a particular need to intensify dialogue between nations is that of the stewardship of the earth's energy resources.

"The technologically advanced countries are facing two pressing needs in this regard: on the one hand, to reassess the high levels of consumption due to the present model of development, and on the other hand to invest sufficient resources in the search for alternative sources of energy and for greater energy efficiency."

By all means, criticise the extreme green hysteria — such as that stupid proposal to put a carbon tax on giving birth — but don't make the mistake of insisting that the only thing that will change your mind is absolute scientific evidence — i.e., waiting until it is all too late.

That serves only the wealthy elite, not the economic or social interests of the majority of the world's population, and fails the supreme intellectual test of proving you are smart enough to change your mind when the facts change.

The Cold War is over; we won, and environmental issues are no longer just for "lefties" — unless, of course, you're happy to leave the debate about solutions dominated by those on the other side of an irrelevant ideological divide.

Tim Wallace,
Surry Hills, NSW

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