Letters to The Age, December 2012

Letters to the Editor, The Age, Wednesday 7th December 2012 

Get ready for the double whammy

As we settle in for the bumpy ride towards planetary disaster, we are bombarded by promotions for mining more coal and gas. We may kid ourselves that we are getting cleverer and can do it more cleanly. But can we really?

Onshore (unconventional) gas is spruiked as the new clean, green energy for the future. Spooked by bad press, companies are push-polling householders into agreeing that coal seam gas is OK so long as strict environmental standards are maintained. No doubt companies will use that to convince governments that we,the electors, are mad for gas. Expect a few other blandishments like funding for hospitals to seal the deal.

Meanwhile, we have just a few years to seriously limit emissions. And the only way is to stop burning the stuff and start being clever. The tax dollars going into the coffers of the fossil industries by way of subsidies should be going to education instead.

As well as better energy technologies, we are going to need to train vast numbers of health workers to cope with the double whammy of increased pollution and an increasingly hot and dangerous planet.

Jo McCubbin, Sale

It was once common for children to ask, ‘‘What did you do in the war, grandad?’’ The next generation will ask us, ‘‘Grandpa, Grandma, what did you do to fight climate change?’’

With the latest release of climate data and talk by scientists that we need to adopt a war footing to fight global warming, it is a question we all need to face up to. While many of us will be able to answer that we recycled, installed solar panels, bought green power, reduced consumption and campaigned for sensible climate policy, Ted Baillieu, Peter Ryan, Michael O’Brien and Matthew Guy will have to say ‘‘Well, kids, we fought for the other side. We slowed the roll-out of solar panels, we stopped the wind farms, and we allocated 13 billion tonnes of dirty brown coal for export which, when burnt, produced 40 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases.’’

Dan Caffrey, Traralgon

Letter to The Age, October 2011

The following is an unpublished letter written to the editor of The Age on October 22, 2011.

Dear Sir,

Thanks for Paddy Manning’s article (Saturday Age 22/10 ) highlighting the problem caused by our coal exports and our efforts to try to curb our carbon dioxide emissions which does not appear to covered by the current legislation before the Senate.

As many commentators have pointed out climate change will not be mitigated without severe restrictions on the burning of coal and eventually its complete replacement with other energy sources.

Manning’s solution – a price on carbon at the point of extraction – is similar to the ‘fee and dividend’ proposal of James Hansen. The coal miners pay a ‘fee’ (equivalent to the ‘carbon tax’?) at the mine and the revenue collected is distributed to all citizens as a dividend.

Similarly products entering Australia with unfair advantage due to their country of origins having no financial mechanism to price carbon should be charged a similar ‘fee’ or ‘tariff’.

Perhaps the legislation before the upper house can be amended to cover this or it can be covered in a following piece of legislation.

Peter Gardner
Global Warming Action Party (Australia)
Ensay, Victoria