This weekend one thousand of Australia’s best and brightest will gather in Canberra, the national capital, to consider the challenges facing us over the next decade. There is a website dedicated to the 2020 Summit and Prime Minister Rudd has asked that ordinary Australians contribute:
“The new century has thrown up enormous challenges, as well as breathtaking opportunities. The ground rules of economic success are being re-written with the rise of nations like China and India. New technologies are continuing to transform our work lives, our social lives and everything from health care to entertainment. Our own society is changing rapidly as well as we live longer and expect greater fulfilment in our older years.
“I invite all Australians to contribute their ideas as we look ahead to how Australia will tackle all these challenges. This website is a great way for you to have input to how we plan for our common future.
If we want to shape the kind of nation Australia will be in 2020, the work needs to start now. There are few limits to Australia’s future potential – now is the time to start turning our nation’s potential into a reality.”
Ten topics will be addressed by delegates including ‘Sustainability and Climate Change’:
“How hot will our weather be? How will we defend against the effects of more tropical cyclones, bushfires, and other extreme events?
“How will we secure our water supply? What sort of land management techniques will be required to keep farms viable? How will climate change affect our ability to enjoy the same huge range of fresh food we do now?”
Eric T. Anning has made a submission to the summit on this topic. Here it is:
Writer: The writer is a 69 year old retired Brisbane lawyer (LLB from UQ and former senior partner of the legal firm of Feez Ruthning- now Allens Arthur Robinson) with two adult children and one grandson, all living in Australia. He is concerned with what may be the financial effect of the commitment to Kyoto for the Australia in which his children and grand children will live – an Australia with a lower standard of living because of compliance with Kyoto.
Lucky Country no more: One of the reasons that Australia is known as the lucky country is because of its huge reserves of fossil fuels. Cheap electricity and gas benefit its inhabitants and its industrial corporations. Great wealth is derived from its export of coal and gas. All this will change permanently if the Australian Government abandons Australia’s current competitive edge over those countries without fossil fuels. The end result of Kyoto will be that our reserves of fossil fuels will be worth much less than at present.
Global warming/Climate Change: The writer understands that what is popularly referred to as global warming/climate change refers to the alleged increase in the surface temperature of the earth, and that this alleged increase is being caused by human activities producing carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels. According to catastrophists, this alleged inevitable temperature increase will guarantee disaster for future generations unless these human emissions are significantly decreased.
CO2: Carbon dioxide is not a toxin and is essential for plant life on Earth, because it is used by plants during photosynthesis: carbon dioxide, water and sunlight combine to feed the plants which emit oxygen which sustains human life. Without this, all life on Earth would end. Richard Lindzen (Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) panel on climate change) says that CO2 does not play a significant role in global warming and that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere would produce a temperature increase of only one degree Celsius. Lindzen is only one of many prominent scientists who hold this view.
Kyoto Protocol commitment: Based on several reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Kyoto Protocol was established, with signatory nations committing to a reduction in the emission of six greenhouse gases including a reduction in the quantity of CO2 created. The Australian Government has committed to set a target to reduce such emissions by 60% on 2000 levels by 2050.
Loss of democratic rights: The Kyoto Protocol is being administered by the United Nations (UN).The UN does not have a good track record for either efficiency or fairness to western countries. How many of our democratic rights will we lose as a result of submitting to the UN? Will a small country like Australia be treated fairly?
Belief Cult v Science: There is a natural desire on the part of many people in the prosperous western world to want to believe that over-consumption is causing harm. However, while they rightly dislike too much packaging, litter, waterways polluted with heavy metals, and unclean air, they would be horrified if their electricity was turned off for any length of time, and they were not permitted to use motor vehicles or aircraft. They are simply not aware that these things are probable if the Kyoto protocol is followed. The “CO2 causes global warming” belief cult is expanding its influence exponentially. People join the cult, not because they are scientifically informed, but to gain social acceptance from their peers. Many of the people who “believe” simply do not have any understanding of the sciences involved.
Electricity Production: This is thought to account for approx 35% of Australia’s CO2 emissions. There have been various suggestions about how the demand for electricity will grow and how the cost of reducing the CO2 emissions from power stations fired by coal or gas and/or converting to alternative energy sources can be calculated, although I am yet to see a definitive paper produced by eminent scientists and economists. But the figures being suggested are frightening: these costs will not only lower the standard of living of Australians, but if applied to the developing countries, will not allow these populations, who for millennia have suffered short lives and a low standard of living, the chance of a much improved existence. In any case, making electricity more expensive would affect the competitiveness and profitability of Australian industries, leading to fewer jobs, less Government revenue from taxation, power shortages/restrictions, and transport restrictions – a lower standard of living. In the end, compliance with Kyoto will lower Australia’s export income from coal and gas.
Opponents of IPCC reports: There is a view among a large number of eminent scientists that the IPCC findings on climate change and projections for the next 50-100 years are flawed (e.g. 100 scientists’ letter to United Nations dated December 2007). They say that in the last 100 years they see no significant sign of man-induced global warming, and that while there has been surface warming of about 0.6 degrees Celsius, this is far below customary natural swings in surface temperatures. They further say that the first area to heat under the “greenhouse gas effect” should be the lower atmosphere, but highly accurate data has shown slight cooling in the Southern Hemisphere and only a modest increase in the Northern Hemisphere. They opine that it is impossible for mankind to prevent climate change which is a natural phenomenon.
Dr Ian Plimer: One of such sceptical scientists. Dr. Ian Plimer is Professor of Mining Geology at the Adelaide University and Emeritus Professor of Earth Sciences, The Melbourne University. In March 2008, he presented a paper titled Global Warming and Uranium- a green dilemma. One may view his presentation on the internet by clicking on www.brr.com.au/event/43876. It is best to scroll down through the Powerpoint slides while listening to his audio presentation. For me, Dr Plimer’s address dispelled a number of myths while making some basic points:
• CO2 is a small part of the total greenhouse gases, which are comprised of water vapour (96%) with CO2, methane, nitrous oxide and miscellaneous gases making up the other 4%. Man-made water vapour accounts for only 0.001% of the overall total, and man-made CO2 a tiny 0.117% of the total.
• There were periods before the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s when there was far more CO2 in the atmosphere than now (up to 5% compared to 0.037% at present).
• CO2 comes principally from volcanoes, earthquakes, the pulling apart of the ocean floor, formation of mountains, hot flushes of magma from the earth’s core with the massive and constant shifting of tectonic plates, ocean degassing, life in general, and the huge field of comet debris dumped continuously in the upper atmosphere – HUMAN CONTRIBUTION IS MINISCULE.
• The twentieth Century and early 21st Century AD are times of natural post-glacial rebound. Ice sheets, a rare phenomenon in the history of time, still exist. Sea level is relatively low, as are global temperatures and atmospheric CO2. Between 1920 and 1945, there was a period of warming (+0.37°C) and another that commenced in 1976 (+0.32°C). In 1976-1977, global temperatures in the lower atmosphere increased by 0.3°C, and the sea surface temperature in the equatorial Pacific rose by 0.6°C. However, this and other phenomena including increased activity in the North Sea and a slight change in the historical length of day have now been known to coincide with an acknowledged change in the Earth’s elliptical path around the Sun. To put such measurements into perspective over the history of time, those changes in atmospheric temperature in the 20th Century can only be considered small and slow. A 24 year global coverage of satellite atmosphere temperatures shows only modest warming in the Northern Hemisphere and a slight cooling in the Southern Hemisphere. Temperature measurements from balloons agree with the satellite measurements for the period of overlap. Because greenhouse warming is a phenomenon of the atmosphere, significant changes should have been recorded. They have not.
• To prevent climate change one would need to either stop continents moving, the shape of the seafloor from changing, the movement of tectonic plates, mountains forming, volcanoes belching out greenhouse gases and dust, hot flushes of gas rising from the Earth’s core; bacteria; comets breaking up in the upper atmosphere; changes in the earth’s orbit; cycles of energy changes from the sun and/or the to change the galactic track of the solar system; the doses of radiation hitting earth from outer space.
AUSTRALIA – WHY
Australia produces less than 2% of worldwide man-made CO2. Any action we take would, even if the IPCC is right, have little effect world-wide. Big CO2 emitting countries such as China, India, and USA are not committed to the Kyoto Protocol and in the case of China and India will not be so committed for a long time, if ever. Even if it was true that humans were contributing significantly to global warming, cessation of all human activity in Australia would make no difference to the planet as a whole. Why then should we continue to take any steps which would harm our economy and the future of our children?
Why should Australia abandon its competitive edge and cede sovereignty to the UN?
Wouldn’t Australia be better off to forget Kyoto and to build up its Future Fund to be better able to adapt to climate change conditions which might arise in the future?
Before the Australian Government proceeds towards compliance with the Kyoto protocol, it must be sure beyond reasonable doubt that the scientific argument behind the Kyoto Protocol is sound, because a policy that deliberately lowers the standard of living is a very serious matter for its citizens, and for others affected, especially those in developing countries where basic items will cost more.
The only way to do this is for the Australian Government to set up its own high profile and highly publicised commission (comprising principally climate scientists but supported by statisticians and economists) to re-examine the question and give it an intense level of scrutiny. It must be composed of climate scientists of all opinions- proposers of the theory, naysayers, and also those who are undecided. The arguments should be debated publicly, published in newspapers and aired on radio and television, so that the Australian community can be informed about the arguments from both sides.
The expense will be worthwhile because Australia has so much to lose.