Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Orwell would be proud (actually amazed, but you get the idea)

Today the Oz government tells us that they didn't sign the Kyoto Protocol because it doesn't go far enough. A new report, entitled Climate Change: Risk and Vulnerability has just been released by the government basically claiming that everything that all of us hippie-scientific-fear mongers are actually right and that the greenhouse effect is nasty, real, and going to create a whole lot of serious problems.

The report claims that all measures that the international community have taken to limit greenhouse gas emissions thus far will be completely ineffective for halting climate change, which might be very true. The government is claiming that this is the reason why they have failed to support the Kyoto protocol and other efforts, now this is a total lie. For years John Howard has been saying that the reason Australian won't sign is primarily economic. It is true though that he has muttered stuff about enough not being done, exceptions for developing countries, and the policies of China and India with regard to global warming, however, the primary reason why NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE is economic.

The government's new position raises some interesting questions that no-one is going to ask. If we are so concerned about the Kyoto protocol not being enough to halt climate change, where are the reports suggesting alternatives? Has Australia been involved in diplomatic work that is trying to establish a new and better standard for greenhouse gas emissions not to mention the development of technology that might fix these problems?

I wonder how much of this is related to George Bush's recent quasi-position reversal on the issue of climate change. It appears that the republicans have decided that maybe us little humans have actually created a problem with our environment. At least Bush is tough enough to admit that the reason the US isn't really interested in doing a lot about it at the moment is that it would be bad for their fossil-fuel driven economy. In the days leading up to the G8 meeting there was a step up in the rhetoric coming out of the US about finding "technological solutions" to climate change, as everything else is ineffective. I guess Australia is going to tow this line now as well.

If they are serious about "technological solutions", and not just shifting position a little to escape criticism, we should see an injection of funds into alternative energy sources (no guys, uranium doesn't really count as "alternative", though I see it took about 20 minutes for someone to bring it up already in response to this new climate change report) and greenhouse gas management policy development. What's the bet that this will go into the "too hard" basket?

Anyway, I love the Orwellian nature of this debate. I mean, there is soooo much double talk and position reversal going on at the moment. It's really interesting to see that the right-wing bloggers and commentators seem to have gone quiet on this issue. Some of them have gone on some amazing rants about this issue, talking up divisions within the scientific community (which pretty much don't exist) and making out that scientists like to scare the population because it brings in more funds. Will they ever take back their words if Howard and Bush keep talking up being the champions of the anti-global warming movement?