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Let's jsdoit

This is Webdiarist Basil Smith’s submission to the Senate Select Committee on Climate Policy:


The CPRS is complex, weak and corrupted by exemptions.

A far more effective control of the danger of climate change would be to tax all emission materials (oil, coal etc) at the point of supply, start at once, and  at a low rate that would not panic the natives. At least some costs will have to be passed on.

We will all have to learn how we can absorb these costs, now and willingly, with the knowledge that they have to be steadily increased until climate stability is realised.

Parliament (I speak advisedly - party politics must go) must not balk at this hurdle by reason of political fears, and front the public (us) together, fearlessly or we will be done like a dinner.

Climate action tax revenue must be diverted (not to compensation other than the poor) to the encouragement and investment in a hefty growth in alternative energy production - fast.

We have become profligate in the use of power. For example, unnecessarily large homes are built  on open plans causing heavy power bills for both heating and cooling, not to mention power used in production of materials and construction. And every tree knocked down is a reduction in CO2 absorption. And we'd better learn to switch off the lights!

We will simply have to all work together on this. All energy costs must rise, to make us all reduce consumption, through efficiency measures of all kinds - by individuals, business and governments.

By the way, the advent of the electric car, to reduce oil consumption will be no help of itself, as it will only increase overall electricity consumption from coal, which is worse than oil (which is partly hydrogen). Substituting renewable energy for coal (especially), is a desperately urgent need.

Let's “jsdoit”, as I saw on one car number plate


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They'll never do it

I think everyone is missing the sleeping giant in this situation. Arguments go down the same track, is global warming real, is climate change real, what form of taxes should we have, where should the money go and who is right? So nothing really ever gets done.

None of these is the major problem as they can be overcome. The one thing no one is looking at which is irreversible except in the very very long term, is the collapse of biodiversity and the food chain, which supports our environment and all our food supplies.

City people never see it, all they see is shops, bright coal burning lights, plastic packaging and that's all that matters to them. Farmers are happy their crops are protected by massive chemical poisoning and couldn't care less about the increasing loss of every form of life around them, they are only interested in their bottom line. Sure we are seeing varying climate, the collapse of ice sheets, glaziers worldwide, deforestation on massive scales, drying rivers and acidic seas. Just go and look at a rubbish tip to see how the environment reacts to being bombarded by useless junk for a futuristic view of what our world may look like, if we continue down the same ludicrous path we are on.

No matter what anyone says, none of those in power will take directions which will change things. It's very simple, either the people make the changes themselves, or they will never be made until to late. After all, power brokers want control, not sanity or positive direction. Coal exports should be stopped and all our resources should be put into changing our transport and energy systems. Our natural resources should be managed for long term outcomes and value added here, not short term profit at any cost and ship jobs overseas. Naturally this would send most of our elite broke and would require a complete reorganisation of the bureaucratic system, which is currently a major problem in achieving anything but calamity.

There should be no carbon taxes, just straight out bans imposed on oil and coal burning products imposed over 12 months, as we set up alternative energies, transport, a new public sector and education system. If we were at war, they would do what was needed, but it's about their egotistical semantic babble and elitist control, they will do nothing as we are seeing.

You'll never do it

Alga Kavanagh, please define "semantic". You have a maximum of 25 words.

Climate change

It used to be warming....but they found that we weren't buying it if we were from the Northern hemisphere, so it is now climate change.

Electric cars make sense. CO2 is not pollution, it helps trees to grow!

Please do not suspend disbelief. This is designed to keep the developing world down. They need energy to develop. Wealthy societies use energy. We can adjust wastage but they want to deny it to India and China. What horrid people!

Coal will cost the Earth

Australia will claim to be "on track" to meet its Copenhagen targets without cutting its actual greenhouse pollution. Meanwhile, our biggest contribution to climate change — black coal exports — will be conveniently ignored. These exports are on track to generate 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually by 2030 — rivalling the current carbon footprint of Saudi Arabian oil. That coal won't be used cleanly either. Treasury's modelling suggests that "clean coal" technology won't be deployed in Australia until 2033, let alone in our export markets or other developing countries. Protecting Australia's carbon lobby will become harder and harder to get away with.

Only when governments come clean on coal will we know that they are taking climate change seriously.

The devil is in the detail

My understanding is that:

CPRS = Tax pollutants (Basil's proposal) + reward carbon sinks (Hamish's point) + adjust for free trade injustices

The horse trading comes from all three, and it is mainly because one cannot absolutely accurately measure these things (for example, we can't have public servants standing in paddocks all day measuring the volume and pungency of cow f**ts). The biggest horse trading is in free trade injustices (unless all countries adopt the same rules, our exporters are penalised). We really don't want our firms doing a Pacific Brandson us. The horse trading is about real issues: what ratios should we use when funding wind and solar energy; does ethanol make sense. The proposal is to start low and then ratchet it up. However, the cost of any policy includes the cost of its administration (both to the state as well as to the company). For a company affected by the scheme, the amount of tax (or subsidy) won't change their administrative cost.

My own view is that we would be better off putting our effort into introducing triple bottom-line reporting (a fairly mature discipline) and then using tax rates to reward and penalise. It tackles a broader range of societal ills and can piggy-back on much of our existing infrastructure. Nevertheless I'd vote for the CPRS, simply because it's on the starting block.

Jsdoit sometimes does make sense. Its fine to shoot and then aim - if one keeps shooting. It is difficult to get any complex policy right the first time. However, often governments are so worn out by the first effort that they take an extended tea break (I gather that this is what has happened in Europe).

I am certainly no expert, I am someone who Andrew Glikson may label a Climate Change Skeptic. I become extremely wary when someone preaches world crisis, whether it be terrorism, toxic debt, climate change or bikies. We already have the technology for most of the world's problems: implementing them mainly needs open minds and altruistic, collaborative approaches. The problem with fear-based motivation is that fear shuts down those parts of our brain needed for critical thinking and altruism.

Thanks Anthony

That's the sort of analysis and vision I'm talking about. Rational, doable, imperative. I think the main problem facing you and me is not practical or even strictly political. It's that too many humans are so wrapped up in loathing their own species that hope and possibility has ceased to be interesting, and are even despised.

Shame really. I reckon human society, warts and all, on our beautiful planet could be something extraordinary, something our species, for all its stumblings and self-made crises, could finally stand proud about. Shall we overcome? Dunno.

Electric cars powered by green energy are the future

Tesla Motors yesterday unveiled a pair of prototype all-electric cars that the fledgling automaker hopes will be the family friendly, mid-sized car of the future.

"Welcome to Model S," said designer Franz von Holzhausen as he pulled the covers off the cars, which will seat seven people and travel 300 miles (483km) on a single charge.

Tesla hopes to begin producing the flashy, five-door car at a yet-to-be-disclosed location in Southern California by the final quarter of 2011.

Within a year, it wants to turn out as many as 20,000 of the vehicles annually.

Basil Smith, I believe you are spot on, a simple carbon tax at source is the best way to go. No room for lobbyists to wheel and deal.

Tesla have just released their latest model electric car, looks great. I wish the billions of dollars spent on recent global stimulus packages had been spent on factories mass producing similar vehicles to the Telsa.

We should be generating all our power by alternative energy such as the following:


One of oldest forms of energy used by humans -- sunlight concentrated by mirrors -- is poised to make an astonishing comeback. I believe it will be the most important form of carbon-free power in the 21st century. That's because it's the only form of clean electricity that can meet all the demanding requirements of this century.


It is inexpensive. Depending on the resource, the price of geothermal power is comparable to that of wind power, new coal plants, or biomass. It is considerably less expensive than solar photovoltaic or nuclear power, or the cost projections for "Clean Coal," otherwise known as Internal Gasification Combined Cycle with carbon capture and sequestration. Using numbers presented at the conference, a geothermal power plant will cost $3-4 per rated watt but produce about five times as much electricity as a similarly rated (and more expensive) photoelectric panel because of the much higher capacity factor.

Wave Power:

A recent report by RPS MetOcean commissioned by Carnegie showed that Victoria has an estimated near-shore wave energy resource of 18,000MW– almost double the state’s total installed power generation capacity. Furthermore, taking into account the proximity of current power transmission infrastructure, approximately 20% of Victoria’s current base-load power needs could economically be met by harnessing waves.

Wind Power:

Global wind energy capacity grew by 28.8%last year, even higher than the average over the past decade, to reach total global installations of more than 120.8 GW at the end of 2008, accordingto the Global Wind Energy Council. More than 27 GW of new wind power generation capacity came online in 2008, 36% more than in 2007.

Let's hope there is some cash left after the economic crisis.

This is where the billions being thrown at us at the moment should really be targeted.


Can I just add that not only should revenues raised go into "encouragement and investment in a hefty growth in alternative energy production," but also into building new forests. Not just tree-planting, but the science and practice of ecological engineering on a vast scale.

If it is absolutely imperative that we stop the destruction of forests, then surely for the same reasons we must construct more. We have the science to make them productive in a great variety of ways.

Ecological engineering

Re: the above.  Exactly.  Earth repair starting with reforestation.  The technos already exists to do it and it could be done on the basis of supporting the maximum possible species biodiversity.  What we tend to accept as "nature" or "natural landscape" is frequently a consequence of human social activity: the rolling, treeless heathlands of Scotland were covered with heavy forest until the seventeenth century when they were cut down to fuel forges and smelters.  Same with Ireland.  The rocky and treeless Mediterranean basin was made that way by the Roman empire's need for timber.  The spectacular landscape of treeless Greenland results from the activities of the Vikings who only arrived in about 900. In Australia the very plants and animals that succeed here are those that were encouraged by tens of thousands of years of fire stick farming.

We have so far chosen what "nature" we have mindlessly.  In other words we've not needed to actually consider how to manage "nature" up until now and simply let it form as a default response to economic activity.  Bringing nature into being as a rational project is the next step.

A carbon tax at source would be a simpler and more just measure than the impossibility of what is currently being attempted.

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