COMPLICITY, COMPLACENCY AND CLIMATE March 13, 2011Posted by wmmbb in Environment, Human Rights, Humankind/Planet Earth.
“To be or not to be”. Is it better to serve short term interests by holding to the carbon-based or to develop the lifestyle and energy alternatives?
And as we are caught in this Hamlet-like dilemma do we not consider the policy issue is not simply advantage but morality? Are committed to the values of justice, truth and human decency?
I am not sure what the right policy is in detail. I was not not particularly impressed with the Emissions Trading Scheme that seemed to me to compensating the polluters, who if they had exercised due strategic diligence should either have move out of the business or conducted them in different ways in the light of the scientific consensus on climate science and its causality. We expect dole bludgers to have social responsibility but not corporations because they are tax paying non-natural persons. As the scientists point out there is a consensus built around observation and the paradigm of explanation and process in the context in which hypotheses should developed and tested. The carbon tax might be a practical way of encouraging energy efficiency and innovation by providing economic rewards.
Economics professor Jeff Bennett says the Government’s policy will disadvantage local exporters, while other countries are lagging on the issue.
“The Prime Minister said we’ve got to do something or else we’re going to be left behind – it’s important to realise that first of all, very few countries around the world are doing much about this [pricing carbon],” he said.
“And secondly, even if everybody did something about, if all nations in the world did what Australia’s doing, still the impact on greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would be so small, [it would] not have any real or meaningful impact on the pattern of climate across the planet.
“What that means is that the Australian economy is going to have this quite substantial cost imposed on it, with very little to show by way of benefit.”
Professor Bennett says countries would need to be doing a lot more to affect climate change.
“The science seems to indicate that we would have to have massive reductions in our greenhouse gas emissions to have any impact,” he said.
“And those massive reductions would of course mean very, very strong taxes, very, very strong cap-and-trade arrangements, and it’s apparent politically that that’s not a feasible option at the moment. The current [Australian] Government is struggling in the polls to capture the nation’s interest in having another tax levy.”
He says other countries are not interested in imposing a cost burden on their economies.
“Internationally – especially in countries like India and China that are on strong development trajectories, that want to see their economies grow – they’re very reluctant to engage in greenhouse gas reduction strategies,” he said.
“There are countries around the world that are doing things – New Zealand, there are cap-and-trade schemes operating in Europe and some states of the United States – but still this is a fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions across the world.”
Professor Bennett says instead of putting a price on carbon, Australia should implement an adaptation strategy.
“What the adaptation strategy involves is waiting to see what happens in the future. Is the climate going to change? If the climate does change, then adapting to those increases in temperatures or increase in cyclonic conditions,” he said.
“So rather than trying to reduce the gas going into the atmosphere, we don’t try to do that. We wait to see whether or not the science pans out as some of the scientists tell us it’s going to, and then adapt to that eventuality.
“All of these issues to do with climate change remain uncertain. With any uncertain event, it’s wise to take out insurance. But we want to make sure that insurance in itself is a good investment.”
Is a short term policy with potential catastrophic implications in practice expedient or moral? Do we have to consider the consequences of climate change tipping points when they kick into play with extreme weather events and changes? Nicholas Stern envisages the prospect that climate change could set off global war. In other words he suggesting that the failure to adopt appropriate action is a form of violence which will be met by violence:
This blog is an example of narrow casting. These topics and posts are ongoing issues, and I not do enough to provide continuity. Henry Farrell at Monkey Cage (via Brad DeLong) quotes Lawrence Hamilton:
The Internet and cable television news make it easier for us not only to process information selectively ourselves, but to selectively acquire information that has been processed already, when we only tune in to ideologically compatible Web sites, cable news shows and so forth …. The bias or selectivity of our sources can be higher than the newspapers, magazines or broadcast news that formerly supplied most current- events information.
As citizens of democracies many of us are not placed in a position where we have to engage in debate. Reading newspapers by this suggestion does have continuing value, although our expectations can often be greater than what is provided.