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Losing the Global Warming Battle to doubt

July 22, 2010

Losing the Global Warming Battle to doubt

In the face of overwhelming evidence most people will side with the evidence. In the face of highly doctored evidence then where will people turn? If what they believe to be a solid direction suddenly turns into mess then where next should they turn?


This appears to be the case with the debate over Global Warming. It is complicated debate forwarded by highly qualified and complete novices alike. Yet as the debate becomes more technical the simplicity of direct evidence linking cause and effect becomes ever more evasive. There are without doubt genuine people on both sides of the debate who should be respected for looking at this issue from a rational viewpoint. Some however, have their own agendas that go well outside the scope of science and reach deep into their respective political allegiances. We even have a debate over the definition of Global Warming. Is it merely natural Global Warming or is it Human Caused Global Warming? If it is nature caused then why are we having this debate? If it is Human Caused then what are the direct causes?


There are three distinct positions people can legitimately take when looking at the issue of Global Warming. You can favour the assertion that Global Warming is a Human Caused Crisis; you reject the assertions or you can belong to the group of people who genuinely do not know. The last group should never be written off as a bunch of ignorant fools because the evidence may not have been convincing enough to sway them either way. It is this last group of people who are uncertain what to believe that I am starting to see as being crucial. When experts argue over hard science (even the self appointed ones) few people can tell who is telling the truth.


It was not so long ago when anyone who questioned the Global Warming doctrine would have been treated as a heretic. Surely such a person would be mad? Indeed this seemed to be the case whenever anyone questioned the proposed Carbon Trading Scheme. Such people were seen as destroying our planet by not conforming to what ‘all the greatest scientists in the world.’ The scincewas also said to have claimed as ‘indisputable fact’. We were told that this was the ‘Great Moral Challenge’ of our generation and there was ‘No Time Left’. We need to act urgently and decisively to implement a Carbon Trading Scheme or within the next few years the polar caps would melt, the oceans would rise and the Polar Bears would drown. In fact the Polar Bear became the iconic symbol of what we were about to lose. Even more alarming were the predictions that the coastline cities would be immersed. Yet the most outlandish prediction was that low level island nations would be below the water and as a result there would be millions of ‘Climate Refugees’. It read like cheap science fiction pulp. As such there was a kind of falsity about the whole crisis. If this was indeed ‘the end of civilization as we know it’ then why wasn’t I caught up in a mad panic?


Yet in a matter months the Climate Crisis went from the being the hot topic (pardon the pun) to a low ticket item. In Australia the federal parliament crushed any hope that the Rudd Government of delivering an Emissions Trading Scheme. The opposition Liberal art flatly blocked the legislation in the federal parliament. The rhetoric of doom and disaster gave way to the rhetoric of timing and consensus. The whole international community that had spruiked the urgency of the matter were refusing to sign up to a carbon tax. They liked the lofty sounding ideal but not the harsh reality of imposing a greater cost on their economy. Nations like the USA, India and China were dragging their feet and without them the desire for others to sign up evaporated. The logic for any smaller to not signing up to a carbon tax was overwhelming. Any unilateral decision to impose a carbon would instantly price its resources out of a competitive market. Which country would be foolish enough to do that?


There is a genuine problem when the name of science is invoked to sell an ideological, social or political agenda. In this whole episode of the Emission Trading Scheme, Carbon Taxes and drowning polar bears they seems to be a giant gap of credibility. The moral crisis of our generation does not get postponed unless the crisis was more rhetorical than actual. The question of the carbon trading scheme has not been challenged let alone properly scrutinised. No one has ever gone to effort of showing me how much carbon (CO2) is too much and how much is not enough. Volume facts and figures are missing from the debate. Nor have I seen any information that would prove such a scheme would even make a difference. I am certainly cynical about a small nation like a Australia having any effect if it unilaterally imposes a carbon tax.


Perhaps the greatest reason for my scepticism is that of practical survival. Carbon Trading means a price on carbon; a price on carbon means a tax on me. Already I have a problem when I am being told to pay more tax; accept higher prices for heating in winter; to have less and pay more for it. What am I getting for this extra financial burden? Should I have a warm inner glow of mindlessly believing that I am saving the planet as I accept a lower standard of living? This is the crucial factor that will have many people having second thoughts about mantras we are hearing from a pro carbon tax lobby. Life is hard enough without someone inventing a new tax to make it harder. They may also wonder whether they are really being sold an excuse rather than a reason for a whole raft of price increases.

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