The Rudd Government’s carbon emissions policies will ratchet up fuel and electricity prices in pursuit of an unattainable objective.
While the Rudd Labor Government, through Climate Change Minister Senator Penny Wong, is committed to implementing Professor Ross Garnaut’s elaborate scheme to force business to pay for greenhouse gas emissions, other countries are baulking at the huge additional cost involved, while mounting scientific evidence shows that it is a dangerous waste of time and money.
Interestingly, the latest satellite data show that, over the past 18 months since January 2007, global temperatures have fallen 0.7°C, equivalent to the rise in temperature measured over the past 100 years.
What is going on?
Two of the pioneers in measuring the earth’s temperature, Dr John Christy and Dr Roy Spencer from the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama, have pointed out that, over the past 40 years, global temperature has risen slightly, but not at a level which can be attributed to human activity.
They reported that long-term studies of Arctic sea conditions show them to be similar to conditions in the late 19th century, while the Antarctic ice pack is expanding, as its temperature cools. Sea levels are rising by about 3 mm per year, but the annual rate has not increased over the past 150 years.
They said that extreme weather events in the US are no more common or frequent than in the late 19th century. What has changed are global communications, including TV scenes of glaciers collapsing into the sea, and of the habitats of polar bears and penguins.
The climate scientists said, “With the threat of catastrophic climate change, many proposals have been put forward to limit energy use.
“A fundamental point that needs to be understood is that if any of these proposals (including the Kyoto Protocol) are implemented, they will have an effect on the climate so small that it cannot be detected. None of these proposals will change what the climate is doing enough to notice.”
They pointed out that human life is more threatened by polluted water, air and other factors than it is by climate change.
“Millions of children around the world die every year due to water-borne diseases. Tens of millions of people are forced to breathe air that is blackened and made toxic by fumes from leaded gasoline, industrial pollution and cooking fires.
“Women and girls in some developing countries are forced to walk miles each day from their villages to the receding edges of the forests to harvest green wood and other low-energy biomass for the fires they use to cook their meals and heat their homes.
“A UN report estimated that 1.6 million people – most of them women and children – die each year due to indoor pollution from cooking fires.
“While the extent of human impacts on global climate change remains uncertain, research by our colleagues at UAH [the University of Alabama in Huntsville] confirms that deforestation and land conversion are changing regional weather patterns and the local climate over some parts of the world.
“Ironically, actions that artificially inflate the cost of energy might hamper those efforts, as healthy economies can better afford to find and develop alternative energy sources and cleaner energy technologies,” they said.
Meanwhile, across the world, there is mounting concern that soaring fuel prices and further energy taxes, such as carbon-trading, could plunge the world into recession, or worse.
As a result of shortages in refining capacity and soaring demand from developing countries such as India and China, oil prices have climbed above $US140 a barrel, effectively cutting world growth and creating a global inflationary spiral.
At the same time, the United Nations is spearheading the push for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to counter global warming.
The Kyoto Protocol, adopted in 1997, set binding targets for greenhouse gas reductions by 37 industrialised nations and the European Union. It expires in 2012.
Last December, following the release of the latest doomsday report of the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN Climate Change Conference was held in Bali, Indonesia, to push for a wider international agreement post-Kyoto.
It adopted what is called the “Bali roadmap”, with “deep cuts” to global CO2 emissions – to reduce what it claimed was the risk of “severe climate change” – through the establishment of mandatory targets, emissions trading schemes and other mechanisms.
The cost will inevitably be passed on to consumers, with adverse impacts on the poor and large families.
However, developing countries, including China and India, have refused to accept that they should be bound by them.
As a result, the US (which did not sign the Kyoto Protocol), said it would not sign up for further cuts.
Meanwhile, France and Germany are looking at cutting petrol taxes to offset rising fuel prices.
It seems that Mr Kevin Rudd, almost alone in the international community, is committed to a program which will ratchet up the price of fuel and electricity in pursuit of an objective which is not only unattainable but utterly misguided.
– Peter Westmore is national president of the National Civic Council.