Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dear climate sceptic

Following yesterday's fantastic Walk Against Warming, I thought I'd write to the climate sceptics out there who oppose climate action even as the demands of science become increasingly urgent.

Dear climate sceptic,

Hope you're feeling better, though you might still be feeling a bit sad about the massive 40,000+ attendance at the Walk Against Warming in Melbourne on the weekend (and in many other places, we shouldn't forget).

The rally demanded strong action from Australia at the international climate talks now underway in Copenhagen. This includes effective binding targets by developed nations to achieve a safe climate below 350ppm - far beyond the paltry targets now on the table, which would lead us to 3.5 degrees of warming and climate catastrophe.

You may also be disappointed by the Associated Press review of the hacked climate emails dismissing the faking of science weakly claimed by the climate sceptics. Of course, this follows a similar conclusion by New Scientist, as discussed on Radio National's Science Show.

The climate science update in the Copenhagen Diagnosis might also not be quite the cup of tea you're looking for, but it's a necessary prescription for the planet, and I recommend you be brave and swallow your medicine.

Remember at this difficult time that you are not completely alone - the Rudd Government and the Coalition are far closer to the climate sceptics than they are to a safe climate policy. There were even a few lonely sceptical souls at the Walk Against Warming you would have met had you been there on Saturday.

Unfortunately for your team, they were as massively outnumbered by the crowds demanding climate action as Ian Plimer is dwarfed by the international scientific consensus that humans are causing the global warming we are now indisputably experiencing.

Finally, ABC Radio National reported this morning that 80 fires are burning across New South Wales. The CFA volunteers who spoke at the rally - veterans of Black Saturday - were clear about the relationship of climate change to increasingly frequent and severe bushfires in Australia. They are well backed, of course, by the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre and a host of eminent climate scientists.

That's the news. Chin up! A change of heart is possible, and you're welcome to join the growing call for urgent climate action. Hope - like our clean energy sources - is renewable!

Comments welcome!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Higgins not so great for Libs, ALP

Update: This post has been updated to reflect final AEC figures.

On Sunday, Josh Gordon at The Age saw the federal by-election results as good for Tony Abbott, but, looking at Higgins, the Liberal primary vote increased from last time by only 0.82% (with an increase in 2CP of about 2%). With Labor not running, this could even be explained by a small migration of right-wing Labor voters to the Liberals.

In Bradfield, the Liberals did worse, with swing in the primary vote against them of 3.4%, albeit with an increase of less than 1% in the 2CP.

In addition, there was a poor turn-out in both by-elections. In Higgins 75.32% cf 93.7% (AEC 2009, 2007), and in Bradfield 74.24% cf 94.03% (AEC 2009, 2007).

In the absence of Labor, a substantial proportion of both electorates (32.54% primary in Higgins, and 25.9% primary in Bradfield) were quite willing to vote Green. How many might still be comfortable to do so even given a Labor candidate on the ballot?

This unknown surely can't be making Lindsay Tanner more comfortable in Melbourne. It seems there's plenty of scope for Rudd to lose quite a slab of ALP votes to the Greens, so it's far from a poor result for the most climate progressive party, and particularly for Clive Hamilton. It's also noteworthy that the climate sceptic candidate did very poorly in Higgins.

Chin up, Greens! Well done!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

'Delay is denial' fits Labor and the Opposition

ABC Unleashed has today published my article, 'Delay is denial', on the election of Tony Abbott to the Opposition leadership, and what that might mean for the prospects of stronger climate action via a double-dissolution election if Rudd really does think climate action is urgent.

I suggest that Malcolm Turnbull's pithy expression is equally applicable to the Rudd Labor Government. There are 47 comments as of this writing, so why not join in?

A slightly longer, unedited version of the article with supporting links is available at In it I talk about the Run for a Safe Climate event as a reminder that any action we take on climate must be strong enough to avoid the worst impacts - hovering just above denial with a weak ETS won't help anyone.

Comments welcome here as well!