March 7th 2009

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: Behind Malcolm Turnbull's pitch for green votes

CANBERRA OBSERVED: The Costello question that refuses to go away

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: China's spending spree: our sovereignty at risk

GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS: Targeted spending needed to promote Australian jobs

NEW ZEALAND: Kiwibank goes from strength to strength

QUEENSLAND: Premier Bligh calls snap election

PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY: Shooting the messenger undermines democracy

HEALTH: Labor's campaign against doctors' private practices

UNITED STATES: The nightmarish cabinet of President Obama

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: UN whitewash of China human rights abuses

GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM: What to do with Guantánamo detainees?

SPECIAL FEATURE: The agnostic who took on Darwin and Dawkins

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY: Sexual suicide of Western society

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Social websites harm children's brains - top neuroscientist / Conspiracy theory? / 'Right to die' can become a 'duty to die'

Euthanasia and dementia sufferers (letter)

Wilson Tuckey I (letter)

Wilson Tuckey II (letter)

CINEMA: Stylised miniature of feminist mythology - Revolutionary Road

BOOKS: ATTILA THE HUN: Barbarian Terror and the Fall of the Roman Empire, by Christopher Kelly

Books promotion page

EDITORIAL: Behind Malcolm Turnbull's pitch for green votes

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, March 7, 2009

The federal Opposition leader's support for government-mandated cuts in CO2 emissions is poorly timed, given the fragility of the Australian economy.

Despite widespread unease among leading industrialists and mining companies, Kevin Rudd and his Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, have committed themselves to implementing an emissions trading scheme next year - effectively a tax on production in the middle of a recession - despite the failure of a similar scheme in Western Europe and the refusal of the largest developing nations, China and India, to join in, making it an expensive waste of time and money.

This comes just months after the Government's highly promoted plan to "save the Murray-Darling" was quietly dropped after it became obvious that private water supplies needed to rescue the Basin were simply not there.

In light of this, it is surprising that the beleaguered Opposition leader, Malcolm Turnbull, has decided to commit himself to a climate change strategy which, he says, will achieve greater reductions in carbon dioxide than those proposed by Mr Rudd, but which is also destined to fail.

Feel-good measures

He proposed doing this by adopting an emissions trading scheme like Mr Rudd's, but implemented a year or two later, together with a range of feel-good measures.

These include "restoring soil carbon by reversing over-grazing and excessive tillage, embedding CO2 in biochar (charcoal fertiliser), tree-planting, and re-vegetation", improved building insulation, and "constructing at least two industrial-scale carbon-capture-and-storage power stations deploying industrial-scale solar energy and geothermal energy and harnessing the energy of the oceans through tidal and wave power."

Taken at face value, Mr Turnbull's commitment pushes the Liberal Party into a position where it is accepting the reality of global warming, and the belief that Australia can do something about it. Both propositions are arguably false.

If, as we are told, increased CO2 is inexorably causing global warming, then today's average temperatures should be higher than they were 10 years ago; but hardly anyone believes this to be the case.

The Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), one of the most vociferous advocates of global warming alarmism in the United States, has recently posted a statement which conceded that 2008 was the coolest year since 2000, according to its own analysis (

The cooling trend was recently described by Professor Bob Carter in the following terms: "Growing recognition of a threat of climatic cooling is correct, because since the turn of the 21st century all real world, long-term climate indicators have turned downwards. Global atmospheric temperature reached a peak in 1998 and has been cooling since 2002."

The signs are that this trend is likely to continue. Solar activity, which drives the climate on earth, has been unexpectedly low for some years, meaning that less solar radiation is being emitted to warm up the earth's surface.

American climatologist, Joe D'Ameo, last year wrote an important paper on the impact of the current long solar cycle.

He said, "The sun undergoes cyclical changes on multiple time scales that appear to correlate very well with temperatures. Long and relatively quiet solar cycles historically have been associated with cold global temperatures, short and very active cycles [with] warm periods.

"The current cycle 23 appears to be the longest in at least a century and may project to quieter subsequent cycles and cooling temperatures ahead."

Separately, the La Niña effect, which cools the Pacific Ocean and influences the atmospheric temperature above the eastern Pacific, has caused a temporary cooling of the Pacific Ocean in the recent past.

Other experts, including the former head of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Bill Kininmonth, have also commented that solar activity, which is the principal determinant of the earth's climate, is low and appears to be linked to a gradual cooling of the earth's atmosphere.

All this evidence has been studiously ignored by those who, like Green Senator Bob Brown and the economist Ross Garnaut, want the Rudd Government to implement an emissions trading scheme without compensation to affected industries.

For years, the European Union's Emission Trading Scheme has been held up as the model for Australia. The Europeans have now tried twice to implement an ETS.

The first, introduced in 2005, collapsed in 2007 after carbon credits (issued by governments to industry) fell in value to almost nothing. The next scheme was introduced to address the deficiencies of the earlier one. "Problem is, the price of carbon credits in Europe has plummeted by two-thirds since July 2008 because of tumbling commodity prices and contracting industrial output." (Business Week, February 19, 2009).

At a time when the world faces the gravest economic crisis since the 1930s, it is depressing to see politicians attempting to polish their green credentials by adopting futile bureaucratic schemes which will wreck the economy.

It's time for Australians to stand up and say: Stop this nonsense right now.

- Peter Westmore is national president of the National Civic Council.

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