On a Tortuous Political Problem: Bob Carter
My main advice to the committee was that making a decision regarding an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) must be considered as a cost:benefit matter.
According to the only estimates that I could find, after ramp-up the cost of the Rudd ETS scheme is going to be about an additional $3,500 tax per year per Australian family. On the other side, the benefit will be a theoretical (i.e. modelled) reduction in temperature of less than 1/1000 deg. C.
I asked the committee if they had such figures in front of them (they didn’t), and expressed willingness to drop my estimates in favour of better-founded ones if the committee could provide them. Not a finger, or tongue, stirred!
Beyond recommending that a proper cost:benefit analysis should apply, I argued also for the implementation of a (Plan B) policy of adaptation to climate change in place of the intended (Plan A) emissions trading system. This follows the policy that I espoused in a recent talk at the New York Heartland-2 Climate Conference, a written version of which has been published in the April edition of Quadrant.
It seems to me that an adaptive Plan B, as well as being hugely cheaper than the tabled carbon dioxide taxation bill that the Senate Committee is now considering, will have the additional advantage of actually doing some good. However, this will be of much lesser importance for the politicians who are now involved, for their self-perceived need is for a pragmatic solution to what has become a tortuous political problem, quite irrespective of either the cost or of whether any implemented policy actually achieves beneficial ends beyond their own re-election.
I was appearing before the Committee as an expert scientist. Together with my companion Dr. Stewart Franks, I was received most courteously, and accorded every opportunity to explain my views. Looking back at the experience, however, what strikes me most strongly is the irrelevance of the scientific matters that Dr. Franks and I were primarily concerned with.
For it was quite plain that three matters, none of them scientific, were primarily exercising all members of the committee. They were:
1. BEWILDERMENT about being faced by two implacably opposing views from two groups of scientists who, prima facie, seem equally professionally credible, yet are each certain that their view is the right and the other’s wrong.
(Not equally authoritative, of course, for the authority lies overwhelmingly on the IPCC side of the argument).
2. INCREDULITY as to the possibility of a scam of the magnitude that is implied by the sceptics’ view being true. How could so many other official authorities, organisations and highly credentialled scientists be so wrong?
(As I said last week, you do have to admire the job that the Greens have done: since 1990 they’ve slowly and systematically stitched up the education system (schools down to kindergarten level and up to university), business, government bureaucracies (via the IPCC) and politicians alike, and the press were always there with them knitting furiously from the start, egged on by a multitude of self-interested scientists in funding feeding frenzy.)
3. A DEEP NEED to deal with the implacable reality that the members of the Committee perceive that the majority of their constituents believe that there is an AGW crisis, and therefore, to be re-elected, that they have to be seen to do something about it.
(I believe that in most cases this perception is now actually wrong, as indicated by a new poll yesterday that shows that only 1 in 3 Americans now believe AGW to be a significant problem.
Whereas it is true that up until about 2 years ago the public was convinced of the need for action, all the signs have long been that a majority of the public have now rumbled the scam – though not, of course, those who control the opinion polls and the media, where the alarmism still gets its routine daily push-alongs .)
I stress again, that none of these three matters is scientific. Rather they are entirely sociological/political in nature, from which I draw the key inference that the members of ETS investigatory committees like this one mostly need help with fashioning politically feasible solutions to the incredible mess that they now find themselves in – which, of course, results from both major Australian political parties having long pandered to deep Green ideologies in pursuit of votes.
It is certain that the enactment of the tabled CPRS emissions scheme would be a disaster for Australia, and nearly all Australians (those working for alternative energy providers and the financial markets being two obvious exceptions, for they will do very nicely thank you should the CPRS Bill be passed); indeed, I believe its passage would do immense damage to the national interest and economy, and represent the worst single piece of legislation to be passed by federal parliament since federation.
But stopping the tabled ETS Bill now, and preventing a new but substantially similar Bill being tabled again in the near future, can only be achieved by providing solutions for the various political negatives that current parliamentarians perceive will accompany any defeat or deferring of the Bill. The question of climate change legislation is now a fraught, entirely political exercise, and I believe that it demands new thinking towards an innovative Plan B.
As I wrote in Quadrant:
“A national climate policy that improves our ability to recognise, manage and adapt to natural climate change and events, as could be met by the creation of a HazNet organisation, is an urgent necessity, and would cost but a fraction of the mooted ETS. To boot, contingent damage to the economy, energy systems, the standard of living and the world food supply would be avoided. And, by their very nature, strategies that can cope with the dangers and vagaries of natural climate change will readily cope with human-caused change too, should that ever manifest itself. Why is it so difficult for Australia’s major political parties to discern this obvious truth?”
Bob Carter, Townsville, Australia
Interestingly, for the first time that I can recall, ABC Radio National reported some of the details of the Senate Committee session to which Dr. Franks and I delivered previously ABC-unmentionable sceptical views. They picked up the point that I made about cost, but not the other half of the equation that shows a miniscule and literally unmeasurable temperature benefit.
And they also reported Dr. Franks’ view that:
“the public, the global public in many senses and certainly in the Western world has been railroaded into this notion of disastrous climate change for which there is no empirical event and that actually there are very real consequences to many climate policies that are being forwarded. And we have seen this recently in the case of the increase in biofuels, the use of good, productive agricultural land in producing biofuels for the decadent West which has been estimated its lead to a 50 to 70 per cent increase in food prices over the last year or two and that has killed people, not here in Australia. And so our climate policy here is here in the West are already killing people and climate change has never been shown to have killed a single person”.
However, ABC being the ABC, they simply couldn’t resist the temptation to add the derogatory ad hominem comment from Dr. David Karoly that “neither Professor Carter nor Franks is recognised as a reputable climate scientist”. Thank you, again, David.
Quite what the ABC expects to achieve, except immunity from being sued themselves, by reporting such gratuitous nonsense is unclear.
Equally interestingly, the TV cameras arrived as Dr. Franks and I were leaving the Senate Committee Room, just in time to film the following group of alarmist scientists who, duly, featured on the evening news! Similarly disgraceful press bias was also apparent in the next day’s Canberra Times, which contained detailed coverage of the alarmist scientists’ view and nary a mention of Stewart or me.
And, determined, continuing TV and radio bias notwithstanding, the last few days have brought an astonishing change in the tone and content of the climate change material being reported in the written press, stimulated by both the Senate Committee hearings and by the release of Ian Plimer’s new book.
Those who are interested in assessing a possible renaissance of the critical ability of Australian newspapers, and perhaps even parts of ABC Radio, may care to browse through the following URLs (listed in no particular order):
Notes and Links
Details of the nature of the Committee can be found at its website: http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/climate_ctte/index.htm
For Bob Carter’s publications visit: http://members.iinet.net.au/~glrmc/new_page_1.htm
To register your opposition to the ETS visit: http://www.listentous.org.au/