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Human rights and climate change

The Hon. John von Doussa was appointed President of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission on 1 May 2003 for a five year term. In the following presentation to the University of Adelaide in December 2007, Mr von Doussa outlines the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s findings on the social and human rights implications of climate change (see HREOC background paper Human Rights and Climate Change).

Climate Change: Catastrophic Impacts and Human Rights
by John von Doussa

Whilst there is now plenty of discussion about the responses that governments should be making to address the predicted consequences of climate change, the focus seems to have been largely on the economic, trade and security issues. The social and human rights implications rarely rate a mention. Tonight I take the opportunity to look at climate change through a human rights “lens”; and then discuss whether, in responding to the change, human rights principles have a role.

When climate change is viewed through a human rights lens, the picture looks very different from the scientific statistics and economic forecasts we generally hear. The human rights lens shows populations becoming increasingly vulnerable to poverty and social deprivation as large tracts of previously fertile land become useless. We can anticipate violent conflicts over limited water supplies becoming more severe and frequent. We see problems in controlling infectious diseases, which are also spreading wider. We see rising sea-levels submerging low-lying atoll countries and delta regions, or making them uninhabitable by inundating their fresh water tables.

These are scenarios which directly threaten fundamental human rights; rights to life, to food, to a place to live and work.

What’s more, the human rights lens brings into focus the reality that the world's poor and marginalised, all too often women and children, will be disproportionately affected by climate change – they are more exposed to disasters and have much lower capacity to cope with them – exacerbating existing social inequity at both the local and international level.

Within Australia, it has been predicted that northern Aboriginal communities will bear the brunt of climate change, with more than 100,000 people facing serious health risks from malaria, dengue fever and heat stress, as well as loss of food sources from floods, drought and more intense bushfires. In the Torres Strait Islands, at least 8000 people will lose their homes if sea levels rise by 1 metre.[1]

The UNDP's Human Development Report 2007/2008 argues that mass environmental displacement, the loss of livelihoods, rising hunger, and water shortages have the potential to unleash national, regional and global security threats.[2]

According to the fifth report from the Working Group on Climate Change and Development, Up in Smoke? Asia and the Pacific, which was released in November 2007, the human drama of climate change will largely be played out in Asia, where over 60 per cent of the world's population, around 4 billion people, live.[3]

With climate change becoming a key topic in national and global politics, the first response has been to pursue measures to mitigate its rate of acceleration, for example by curbing green-house gas omissions. We are presently in the midst of further discussions on an agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol once it expires in 2012.

And recognising that climate change will continue, even with successful mitigation measures, governments have also moved to encourage adaptation by providing financial support to affected communities so that they can cope with changing conditions. The notion of sustainable development has become part of the new mitigation and adaptation vocabulary, along with concepts like “contraction and convergence”.

Australia and other developed nations have accepted obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to help developing nations implement regional adaptation programs.[4] However, to date delivery through these programs has been limited. The total international contribution has amounted to around US$26 million. For the purposes of comparison; this is equivalent to one week’s worth of spending under the United Kingdom flood defence program.[5]

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has argued that we are drifting into a world of ‘adaptation apartheid’ with the world's poor left to sink or swim through a problem that is not of their making, while citizens of the rich world are protected from harm.[6]

An example of the way this differential impact could arise within our community illustrates the point. The focus on shifting energy sources to low carbon alternatives is likely to mean the more widespread introduction of minimum energy performance standards, for electrical appliances, cars and buildings, all of which have the potential to increase costs for users. Pricing carbon into energy means unit costs will rise.[7] The most disadvantaged will struggle to live with increased costs.

Overseas, however, climate change catastrophes are already happening that are beyond mitigation and adaptation remedies. Displacement of communities has started. As displacement increases, so will the movement of people not only within the boundaries of their countries, but across borders and across oceans.

There is growing consensus amongst experts that by as soon as 2050 the number of people displaced by climate change will be in the order of 150 million and there are many higher estimates ranging up to 1 billion.[8]

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mike Keelty has said publicly that the potential security issues from climate change are enormous and should not be underestimated. He argues that ‘in their millions, people could begin to look for new land and they will cross oceans and borders to do it’.[9]

All of these scenarios must attract government responses. What then, if anything, does the modern human rights discourse offer or require from governments when developing appropriate responses? I think the answer is “a lot”.

But, as the precise connection between human rights and climate change is still developing, I need to say a little by way of background about the notion of human rights, and why it is justifiable to assert that human rights principles establish normative benchmarks that governments should comply with.

The modern notion of human rights is one founded in international law. It traces back to, and is based upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10 December, 1948;[10] 59 years ago yesterday. The Declaration builds from the premise in the first Article that ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’.

The human rights enshrined in the Declaration have been further articulated in subsequent human rights treaties; most relevantly, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights[11] (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights[12] (ICESCR), which entered into force internationally in 1976.[13]

The values that inspired the drafters of the Declaration provide a powerful point of reference in the climate change context. The Declaration established a set of entitlements and rights - civil, political, cultural, social and economic for ‘all members of the human family’ to prevent the ‘disregard and contempt for human rights that have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind’.[14]

The major human rights treaties were developed before climate change was understood to be a looming threat to human security. However, there are many broad rights recognised in the ICCPR and ICESCR, as well as in the Convention Against Torture,[15] and the Convention on the Rights of the Child[16] which are relevant to the situation of people whose way of life comes under threat from climate change. These broad rights establish international norms for the protection of the right to life, to personal security, and to the basic necessities for life - clean water, food, shelter, minimum health care and so on. Further, the fundamental concept that all are equal before the law and are entitled without discrimination to equal protection under the law, which underpins these human rights treaties, is particularly relevant in developing responses to the impacts of climate change.

However, the legal force of these rights in Australia is not clear cut. On the one hand, by signing up to international law treaties Australia has made an undertaking to the international community to ensure people within its jurisdiction enjoy the recognised human rights.

On the other hand, while international human rights law establishes these broad rights, in Australia international law has no binding force until the parliament enacts the provisions of a treaty into domestic law. And while Australia has enacted a number of international human rights norms,[17] the broad range of rights most likely to be under threat from the impact of climate change, including those rights set out in ICESCR, have not been incorporated into Australian law.

Nevertheless, the fact that these rights have been acknowledged by Australia to the international community is still significant. In the now famous case of Teoh[18] the High Court of Australia in 1995 held that in decisions made under domestic laws by the executive arm of government, people in Australia had a ‘legitimate expectation’ that bureaucrats would act in accordance with Australia's international treaty obligations, even when the treaty had not been enacted into Australian law.[19]

It seems reasonable therefore to argue, and hopefully expect, that in developing policy and legislative responses to climate change Australia will respect its international human rights obligations.

Whether particular climate change responses relate to local communities in Australia; to immigration policies for people seeking to come to Australia to escape environmental catastrophes in their homeland; or to funding for adaptation measure overseas, a human rights-based approach to policy development could and I would urge should be developed as a benchmark against which policy and resource allocation is evaluated.

At a procedural level, a human-rights based approach would encourage transparent and participatory processes for decision-making, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. By focusing on individuals as rights-holders the responsibility is placed on government to allow for participation and input from affected members of society.

Beyond these process issues, a human rights-based approach would also guide policy makers on the substantive elements of adaptation measures.

A human rights-based approach would apply the principle of non-discrimination and substantive equality. So, when a climate change policy is put forward, decision-makers would need to identify the impact it would have on the most disadvantaged or vulnerable, as far as possible using data disaggregated according to the prohibited grounds of discrimination, e.g., race, colour, sex, national or geographic origin. If the result of an adaptation measure is, for instance, that indigenous people are going to be disproportionately impacted, the measure would require adjustment.

Under a human rights-based approach the substantive elements of any new measure would need to ensure that the fundamental rights of everyone affected by the measure were taken into account. Those rights should of necessity incorporate minimum standards of political and civil rights, including personal security, and economic social and cultural rights. Water, food, and housing would be the most basic and important rights to ensure that the right to life was meaningful. Human rights standards would guide policymakers and legislators when weighing competing demands on limited resources; helping to ensure, for example, that budget allocations prioritise the most marginalized and disadvantaged.

The authoritative General Comments of the Human Rights Treaty Bodies are a useful articulation of the content of some of the key human rights affected by climate change and provide a basis for developing the standards and measures to apply when evaluating whether a particular policy meets its human rights requirements. To take but one example, the relocation of a community would have to ensure that the minimum requirements of fresh water (currently calculated by the World Health Organisation at 7.5 litres per day[20]) would be physically and financially available to every adult and child, and that it would be accessible to all without discrimination on the grounds of sex, age, or economic or social standing, and that personal security is not threatened when having to physically access to water.[21] Similar core obligations resting on governments have been specified in other General Comments in relation to the rights to food, health and adequate housing.[22]

A human rights-based approach could be applied through a process that required the introduction of new legislative based policies to be accompanied by a human rights compliance statement. Where either the policy or enabling legislation does not meet recognised human right norms, the statement would have to identify and explain the reasons for the shortcoming. This type of policy formulation process would be analogous to the processes enacted into the Human Rights Charters now in place in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria.

The human rights issues for Australia that will arise where displaced populations cross their national boundaries raise additional issues. As others have observed, desperate hungry and homeless people are likely to cross boarders, even oceans.

In the past two decades Australia has experienced movement across the seas of people seeking refuge from persecution. Australia's legislative response to these so called “unlawful non-citizens” has included indefinite detention for failed asylum seekers and, until yesterday, the “Pacific solution”. These measures are generally acknowledged to fall short of well-established international human rights norms.

The flow of this human traffic in the past may turn out to be a trickle of what may occur in the future.

One of the international treaties that followed the Declaration was the Refugees Convention made in 1951.[23] We hear a lot today about a class of climate or environmental refugees, but the Refugees Convention in fact offers no protection to these new classes of asylum seekers. The Refugees Convention was developed to protect people fleeing from persecution, and applies only to people who ‘owing to a well foundered fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion’ are outside the country of their nationality, and are unable or unwilling to return.

Climate refugees, generally speaking, will not fit within the definitions of the Refugees Convention. But people cannot be returned to their island state if the island no longer exists.

Furthermore, international law is clear that a non-citizen must not be returned to a border of another country where the safety of that person is at risk of torture, cruel or inhumane treatment. Plainly, to return people to a country that still exists, but is so ravaged by the elements that food, water and housing cannot be provided by its government would be to expose them to cruel and inhumane treatment. However, it can be anticipated that there will be endless arguments whether those fleeing particular countries could be resettled somewhere in their country of nationality - either immediately, or in the foreseeable future.

How Australia will treat unauthorised arrivals that really are in desperate need of protection from starvation and death is a pressing question. At this point in time international law offers no precise answer. Solutions will require inventive and creative thinking, and much goodwill on the part of developed nations. Plainly a new international treaty is needed to deal with the obligation of States to people in need of either temporary protection from drought, storm or salt water devastation, or a new permanent home because their nation state has disappeared or can no longer support them. Hopefully Australia will take a leadership role in UN fora to hammer out a solution which equitably shares the emerging burden of climate change-induced catastrophes in particular countries across the world.

In the meantime, the formulation of domestic laws to regulate the unauthorised arrival of climate refugees should respect the human rights of the individuals involved, and in so far as those rights are to be compromised on the ground of nation security, or public order, public health or the economic capacity of the Australian community, the compromise should be transparently one that is proportionate to the situation and impinges on the basic human rights of everyone to the minimum degree necessary.

Temporary protection visas in Australia have attracted much criticism, but some form of temporary protection is likely to be part of the international solution as a means of giving short term accommodation in situations of sudden emergency until long term durable solutions are established in the home state, or negotiated between nation states to share the burden of displaced communities that have no prospect of being repatriated.

I conclude with a dismal observation about human nature. On issues of resource and financial allocations inevitably policy development encounters the reality that governments are influenced by the attitudes of their electorate, and electors are influenced by self interest. It is fine for others to be accorded their human rights, so long as to do so does not take anything from those who already enjoy their rights. As a New Zealand professor recently observed at a World Health Organisation meeting to address climate change: ‘The most difficult change of all is a change of will’.[24] A human rights based framework for change would provide a rational, defensible benchmark for policy development as well as the justification for the measures ultimately proposed.

[1] Friends of the Earth International, Climate Change: voices from communities affected by climate change (November 2007) at pp.5-6. Available at: http://www.foei.org/en/publications/pdfs/climate-testimonies
[2] United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2007/2008 – Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world (November 2007) at p.186. Available at: http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2007-2008/chapters/
[3] Working Group on Climate Change and Development, Up in Smoke – Asia and the Pacific (November 2007) at p.3. Available at: http://www.iied.org/pubs/pdf/full/10020IIED.pdf
[4] United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, opened for signature 4 June 1992, 1771 UNTS 107 (entered into force on 21 March 1994)
[5] UNDP, Human Development Report 2007/2008, note 2 at p.189
[6] UNDP, Human Development Report 2007/2008, note 2 at p.166
[7] Justin Sherrard and Alan Tate, Equity in Response to Climate Change: an Australian snapshot (paper for the Equity in Response to Climate Change Roundtable, Melbourne, 26 March 2007). Available at: http://www.bsl.org.au/main.asp?PageId=4732
[8] See for example The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change (2006). Available at: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/independent_reviews/stern_review_economics_climate_change/stern_review_report.cfm
[9] Commissioner Mick Keelty, 2007 Inaugural Ray Whitrod Oration (Speech delivered at the Adelaide Convention Centre, 24 September 2007) Available at: http://www.afp.gov.au/media/national_media/national_speeches/2007/inaugural_ray_whitrod_oration
[10] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, GA Resolution 217A(III); UN DocA/810 at 71
[11] International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, opened for signature 16 December 1966, 999 UNTS 171 (entered into force 23 March 1976, except for art 41, which entered into force on 28 March 1979)
[12] International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, opened for signature 16 December 1966, 993 UNTS 3 (entered into force 3 January 1976)
[13] Australia ratified the ICESCR on 10 December 1975 and the ICCPR on 13 August 1980.
[14] UNDP, Human Development Report 2007/2008, note 2 at p.4
[15] Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, opened for signature 12 October 1984, 1465 UNTS 85 (entered into force 16 June 1987)
[16] Convention on the Rights of the Child, opened for signature 20 November 1989, 1577 UNTS 3 (entered into force 2 September 1990)
[17] See for example, the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth), the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) and parts of the Workplace Relations Act (Cth) and the Evidence Act 1995 (Cth)
[18] Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs v Teoh (1995) CLR 273
[19] Although various governments have attempted to overturn the effect of Teoh, in more recent times the Liberal Government made formal statements to the effect that Australia sees it as its obligation to meet its human rights treaty obligations and encouraged other States to do likewise. There is no indication the new Labor Government will adopt any different approach.
[20] This figure is for total consumption (i.e. drinking water plus water for foodstuffs preparation): Howard and Bartram, Domestic Water Quantity, Service Level and Health, WHO, (2003) at p.9. Available at: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/diseases/en/WSH0302.pdf
[21] CESCR, General Comment No. 15 – The right to water (2002) at para.37
[22] See for example, CESCR, General Comment No.12 – The Right to Adequate Food (1999); CESCR, General Comment No.4 – The Right to Adequate Housing (1991); and CESCR, General Comment No.14 – The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health (2006). General Comments available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/comments.htm
[23] Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, opened for signature 28 July 1951, 189 UNTS 150 (entered into force 22 April 1954)
[24] Professor Alistair Woodward, Keynote Address (Speech delivered at the 58th Session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, Jeju, Republic of Korea, 11 September 2007). Available at: http://www.wpro.who.int/NR/rdonlyres/52F7E3A4-71A7-4DD2-BE79-7D43E234B9AD/0/RC58report.pdf (At p.111)


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Archbishop Tutu with a truely religious message.

Archbishop Tutu, a Nobel Peace laureate and tireless campaigner for global justice and equality, said scientists predicted that up to 185 million Africans would die this century as a direct result of climate change.

"Climate change is for real. As I speak, famine is increasing, flooding is increasing, as is disease and insecurity globally because of water scarcity," he said.

"As an African I urgently call on ordinary people in rich countries to act as global citizens, not as isolated consumers. We must listen to our consciences, and not to governments who speak only about economic markets.

"These markets will cease to exist if climate change is allowed to develop to climate chaos."

Forget the charade going on in Sydney. If we want a real religious message listen to Archbishop Tutu. We must act as global citizens; we must see that the things we do today could result in the deaths of millions. Every time we get into a car or an aeroplane we should think what the cost to others will be. Sell the gas guzzler, forget the overseas holiday, rejoice in the high price of petrol, encourage our leaders to be strong on reducing our carbon emissions.

Change our lives so that others can live.

To do otherwise is to make a mockery of any religion.

Even a low carbon tax will push 500,000 Aussies into poverty

Get your heads around this straight up..

"As part of any emissions trading scheme, a price will be put on carbon. Research done by the Brotherhood of St Laurence estimates that even a comparatively low price for carbon of say, $25 a tonne, could push a further 200,000 Australian households and nearly half a million people below the poverty line."

Got that? And this is Ross Garnaut speaking today:

"Climate change presents a new kind of challenge,'' he said.

"It is uncertain in its form and extent, rather than drawn in clear lines.

Ross Garnaut is uncertain about the effects of global warming. But he's quite prepared to "push a further 200,000 Australian households and nearly half a million people below the poverty line" just in case.

When the "compensation" programmes fail because everyone is fudging the figures on their income statements and tax returns, the costs of "greening" Australia will be paid for with a kind of Eco-GST.

And when that happens, watch Generation Y dump their love affair with dolphins in exchange for a new SUV or a trip to France for their uni holidays instead.

Adelaide public hearing with Garnaut


The Garnaut Climate Change Review will release its Draft Report on Friday 4 July 2008. The Draft Report will outline the impacts of climate change and preliminary policy options for Australia to minimise its environmental and economic impacts.

You are invited to attend a public forum being held in Adelaide on Tuesday 8 July, to hear about and discuss the findings of the Draft Report.

Professor Ross Garnaut will host the forums, providing a half hour presentation, followed by question time.

The forum will provide an opportunity for individuals and organisations to discuss the Draft Report with Professor Garnaut ahead of the completion of the Final Report by 30 September 2008.

Date: Tuesday 8 July 2008

Time: 10.00am - 11.30am

Venue: Adelaide Town Hall

Attendance is free of charge but registration is required.


For further information visit http://www.garnautreview.org.au/

Garnaut Climate Change Review Secretariat

Level 3 , 3 Treasury Place

Melbourne VIC 3002


Chronic skills shortage? Ask a public relations consultant!

Bill Avent says:

"So please tell us what occupations do qualify a person to hold an opinion."

Oh, everyone's entitled to an opinion. But that doesn't make it worth listening to necessarily.

If you think the opinions of a geneticist about the capitalisation and development of energy generation and distribution infrastructure systems are worth wasting the ABC's time with, you may then also think worthwhile the opinions of a public relations consultant regarding the economics of human resources, training and the environment.

For my part, I'd say they were likely worth no more than the next person's.


Never mind the bomb — ban the opinion!

Eliot, if geneticists, communications consultants, ballerinas and jockeys are not allowed to express opinions, who is?

Reminder: you have opinions. Some who disagree with them would defend your right to express them to the death, as Voltaire probably didn't actually say. And I suppose you have an occupation, too. So please tell us what occupations do qualify a person to hold an opinion.

ABC announces end of the world

Here's a geneticist on the ABC announcing the end of the world's energy systems...

"Wait, did I hear you mumble something about new high speed railways, nuclear power, a hydrogen economy or rebuilding our cities? Oh, sorry but building all that infrastructure takes massive amounts of energy. Maybe if we had started 20 years ago, but soon - it will all just be too expensive."

Sorry, too late. Er, Maybe. Er, I mean, soon.

Next, the opinions of a ballerina and a jockey...


Spot the gobbldygook

A CSIRO report predicts a carbon emissions trading scheme will require three million workers to be trained or re-skilled by 2015.

Okay. That could be a problem. I mean, the resources boom already means we have to import everything from fruit pickers to the people who flip beef patties at Burger King.

So, where do we get three million workers (and their families) in just seven years? You know, like 428,000 workers a year for the next seven years?

And house them?

Well, don't worry, an environmental think tank, called the Dusseldorp Skills Forum, is on the case.

"Our vision is for an Australian workforce equipped with the skills and knowledge required to meet the growing environmental sustainability imperatives. To this end, we seek to stimulate innovation and educational developments through the provision, recognition and advancement of productive skills and knowledge."

Ooooo-kaaaay, and what kinda thing would that entail?

Let's ask Oona Nielssen, the newly appointed Executive Director of the Dusseldorp Skills Forum....

"The executive director of the Dusseldorp Skills Forum, Oona Nielssen, says it is an enormous task.

"We've got a skills shortage now that's the result of market failure," she told ABC Radio's AM.

"Everyone is talking about the current skills shortage and that is because the market has just tootled along the way, we've always tootled along, and right now we're suffering a skills shortage."

Yup. We just tootled along.

We should just stop doing that. No more tootling along. Got that?

Oona Nielssen is  a communications specialist, formally principal of her own communications consultancy specialising in public relations.

Wouldn't you just know it?

Holy cow, Batman

John Pratt says:

"It is the poorer countries that have the most babies. "

So, how will increasing their per capita consumption held reduce global warming?


The things we should have learned in kindergarden.

Eliot, you ask if increasing per capita consumption of poorer countries will reduce global warming. No it won't, but reducing per capita consumption of richer countries will leave room for them to grow. I know it hard for you to understand Eliot, but we must learn to share, you know just like we learned in kindergarden.

These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don't hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don't take things that aren't yours.
  • Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.



Good point Scott.

Add the population explosion to soil exhaustion, land clearance leading to loss of topsoils or thefailure of their renewal, accompanying loss of biodiversity, climate change, deforestation and desertification, deterioration of water sources and quality; all happening simultaneously.

The factors combine and collude to create not just localised damage, but the eventual breakdown of a self repairing mechanism and eventual disaster, even for the clever ape.

Bugger population, too

The pressing issue facing civilisation today is whether some pushy pollie said boo to a goose or not.

Let the marketplace not politicians make the decisions.

A price on emissions that cause harm is essential. Yes, a carbontax. Carbon tax with 100% dividend is needed to wean us off fossil fueladdiction. Tax and dividend allows the marketplace, not politicians, tomake investment decisions.

Carbon tax on coal, oil and gas issimple, applied at the first point of sale or port of entry. The entiretax must be returned to the public, an equal amount to each adult, ahalf-share for children. This dividend can be deposited monthly in anindividual's bank account.

Carbon tax with 100% dividend isnon-regressive. On the contrary, you can bet that low and middle incomepeople will find ways to limit their carbon tax and come out ahead.Profligate energy users will have to pay for their excesses.

James Hansen says a carbon tax is what is needed to wean us away from fossil fuels. A carbon tax could mean most of us put money into the bank.

He also believes CEOs of fossil energy companies should be charged with crimes against humanity.

CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and areaware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In myopinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanityand nature.

Conviction of ExxonMobil and Peabody Coal CEOs willbe no consolation if we pass on a runaway climate to our children.Humanity would be impoverished by ravages of continually shiftingshorelines and intensification of regional climate extremes. Loss ofcountless species would leave a more desolate planet.

Ifpoliticians remain at loggerheads, citizens must lead. We must demand amoratorium on new coal-fired power plants. We must block fossil fuelinterests who aim to squeeze every last drop of oil from public lands,off-shore, and wilderness areas. Those last drops are no solution. Theyyield continued exorbitant profits for a short-sighted self-servingindustry, but no alleviation of our addiction or long-term energysource.

Let's hope the Rudd government has the courage to act when the Garnaut climate change review is released.

Bugger climate change

Get real, the single most important challenge facing our civilisation is that of population growth.

Secondly, what the hell are we going to replace fossil fuel with? (Think of the scale of our needs.)

Population or greed?

Scott, is it population or greed that is causing the problems?

It is our greed that drives us to want bigger and better things, which in turn drives our large carbon footprint, in turn causing climate change and peak oil.

If we in the rich countries of the world were willing to share with those of the poorer countries by reducing our carbon foot print. If we gave the money saved to the poorer nations especially in education and health it is most likely that people would choose to limit the number of babies they give birth to.

You may notice that it is the rich countries that have less babies.

It is the poorer countries that have the most babies


Well, hey

I'm glad that's sorted out, Richard.

To get back to the topic, I think climate change sucks. I like things to remain the same. See, everyone? I'm a conservative after all. And I think our human natures will take care of human rights, if we give them a chance. All this enshrining things in laws that nobody observes just stands in the way of that.

Offends the natural order

I agree with Bill.

It should sun when it suns and rain when it rains.The government should do something about the bloody thing, pass a bylaw or something!

Can you explain what you mean?

My comments list must be different from yours. If you are talking about my comments, they seem to  have come at 39 min 26 secs ago; 49 min 48 secs ago; and 1 hour 50 minutes ago.

Richard:  It's gone now.. hardly worth mention in first place.  It's just rare for three comments from three different posters to arrive within 4 seconds

What's a chronometer?

Richard, last time someone asked me for the time, he then wanted to know the date, as well. Then he wanted to know what day it was. Seemed like a pleasant enough fellow. Stoned, I think.

 PS., what three posts in what four seconds?

Richard:  Look in the comments list. 

Strangelets, quarks and glue-ons

So now we look like being rescued from catastrophic climate change by being sucked into an ever-expanding mini black hole. And emerge on the other side of the great barrier between universes, no doubt  to find ourselves in Michael Leunig's Art World. Where we will experience a chaotic implosion of vaporised anti-matter which emits random, light-charged time particles forming a perpetually disintegrating vortex.

Thanks a lot, Science World.

Richard:  Oh well, Bill, the world was heading backwards anyway...

A quarky imagination

Just remember Bill, that when someone asks you if you have the time, all you  actually have is a chronometer.

Speaking of synchronicity (which we weren't, loved those three posts in four seconds. 

Haliburton Is Behind It

Speaking of synchronicity (which we weren't, loved those three posts in four seconds. 


You don't seriously think this was a coincidence, Richard?

A three way time post warp? Exactly three days after the winter solstice? Coincidence? I think not.

Richard:  Oops, forgot Cheney's favourite time of year for goat sacrificing.  Mind you, if he's as good at that as shooting quail....

 Now that the Democrats have gone, the bastards are surely cooking up something. Mark my words and watch the skies.

All interconnected.

Not goat riders in the sky again?

Foolish ghosts....

Or did you mean "Dan" Quail,  Richard?

Last few posts seem to be part of a bigger jigsaw to be assembled. Religion, over-population, distribution of resources bases on exchange rather than need, environmental  degradation, reinforced cultural atavism (relates to dogma and overpopulation inflamed by global politics).

A  Doestoyevskian, Wagnerian or  Neitzschean turn develops.

Wagner the dog

You might remember, Paul, that peculiar speech of Keelty's I presented here last year in which Mick proclaimed the AFP's prowess in combatting climate change.  That aspect was a major component of my rationale for posting it.  Ye gods, the AFP are responsible for everything?

There's something afoot behind the scenes.... mark my words (Geoff, call it a flash of equinox prescience if you like, while you throw your bones) that the alliance of police commisssioners could be the forerunner of a police state.

Trust the cops, they'll protect us against climate change?  Team America.....

the best trick since Canute.

Am just listening to Graham Samuel talking about Marx, oil and speculators. Outlining the Trade Practices  act, 1974, then  Hilmer - reckons these reforms are the reason we are a rich country. Poor old minerals boom, like an orphan no one wants to know it. Nope, more economic reform  is the go.

After watching Costa on Business Latteline, just can't get into "reform",but Samuel seems to prefer Labor to Howard and is loudly invoking the rights of consumers as justification for his proposals.

Sorry,  agree with your coment re police state but think its already here and not run by clowns like Keelty, or in the form many people might think of.

Collider might gobble up the Earth.

This Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a powerful and complicated machine, which will smash together protons at super-fast speeds in a bid to unlock the secrets of the Universe.

Six "detectors" - individual experiments - will count, trace and analyse the particles that emerge from the collisions.

Most physicists believe the risk of a cataclysm lies in the realms of science fiction. But there have been fears about the possibility of a mini-black hole - produced in the collider - swelling so that it gobbles up the Earth.

Forget Climate Change, Peak Oil, we might all be gobbled up in a mini black hole before the end of the year. Sure are interesting times we live in.

complete with cd player

Fairly Large Hadron Collider, eh? Not a Small to Middling One or Humungus Great one.

It's the end of life as we know it. Coincides with the return of Dr. Who.

Daleks and Cybermen tumbling through the walls; Billie Piper and Kylie Minogue presiding over these disasters in hot pants and micro minis. Whoo hoo, where's Bill Heffernan, Kevin Andrews and Michael Costa?

Sorry, John Pratt, just one of those funny moods, today.


Teoh supposedly says that we must follow human rights conventions we have rattifed even if not put into law.

Al Kateb over rides Teoh and will unless the conventions are enshrined in our law.

As for climate refugees - we will send them away and call them liars and frauds.

Teoh and bikkies

Now we know why so much of our everyday living is facing subversion in the wake of AUSFTA, clearly a neolib response to community sovereignty in the Age of Globalism, or at least the corrupted version of it beginning to develop.

Does AUSFTA feed off the above reasoning which was probably designed in relation to refugees? (incidentally has the writer in mind of discussions in the past with refugee advocates, as to the basi(e)s to/of Howard’s refugee policy). This since that the court interpreted that Australians had a "legitimate expectation" that "bureaucrats would act in accordance with Australia's treaty obligations, even if these had not been enacted into Australian law".


Beyond that, what becomes the bases of Commercial in Confidence, FOI and other mechanisms that facilitate or hinder public access to law or individual laws, for better understanding within the polity.

Can see where this may fit with Fiona Reynolds' posting of Kirby's Four parables... speech; explains so much and opens whole crates, let alone the odd tin, of worms for me also.

Thanks, "Veeona".


Fiona, since you added Human Rights and Climate Change, perhaps you could be able to explain in plainspeak the basis of Teoh?

I guess a very quick skim has me in mind of rivers and rivers all over the world related to the plundering or polluting, or not, of a resource that could be construed as a resource in common through the length of a river.

Now back for further read.

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