Letters to the Editor

November 2, 2007

Walk Against Warming

Like many people, I am increasingly concerned about the lack of concerted government action on climate change. There is a lot of talk but what we need is immediate action.

We now know that even a small increase in temperature will impact human health through increased spread of malaria, reduced crops, and the displacement of people through floods. In Australia, climate change models predict more frequent and longer-lasting droughts.

I urge you to join the national Walk Against Warming to show our children that they and the future really matter. In Western Australia, it will be a fun event held at the Fremantle Esplanade at 1pm on the 11 November, with stalls and other attractions.

Cathy Bennett

East Victoria Park, WA

Kyoto and beyond

The article by Gwyn Prins and Steve Rayner titled "Time to Ditch Kyoto" in a recent edition of the journal Nature points out some of the weaknesses of the Kyoto treaty on climate change, including the failure of emission trading schemes, but at the same time overlooks some of the obvious problems facing humanity, including its size and the ever increasing demand for resources.

The authors touch only briefly on adaptation, which is going to become an important issue because of the failure of governments to take the action necessary to avert disaster. But they do have the right idea when they say it is the largest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions who must make the greatest reductions. (We could draw an interesting analogy with the Murray-Darling river system where no government is game to grasp this nettle and confiscate the water rights of the large users and make all of the rights non-transferable).

A carbon tax would be an effective way to go, provided rights were non-transferable, but there is so much political opposition to any scheme that is not economically profitable or easily avoidable that adaptation should figure more prominently in the debate than it does now. The problem with transferable polluting rights is that they defeat the original intent; whereas if those did not use the original allocations to whom they were allocated it would be a clear win for the environment. The sincerity of our politicians — or their lack of understanding — can be gauged by the promise of rebates for low-income earners by both the ALP and the Coalition to offset the expected rise in energy costs. Such rebates would defeat the purpose of higher energy costs — a reduction in energy use.

So the path we should follow and fast is a cap on the emissions of the large polluters regardless of national borders and a prohibition on transfers of emission rights. Rest assured our politicians will not even consider such action. The option for the ordinary citizen is to prepare for adaptation

Col Friel

Alawa, NT

Infant deaths

In his outstanding Great Debate performance Labor leader Kevin Rudd mentioned that the Indigenous Australian infant death rate is over three times that of non-Indigenous infants. I was gratified to hear this statement because I have been tirelessly informing MPs and media about the horrendous infant mortality and excess mortality of Australia's Indigenous citizens for years — but to little avail.

However, religiously not mentioned by major party MPs or mainstream media is the horrendous infant mortality in Australia-occupied Iraq and Afghanistan due to occupier war crimes.

From the latest medical literature and UNICEF data one can estimate that the annual infant death rate is 2.7% (occupied Iraqis), 6.7% (occupied Afghans), 0.5% (occupied Palestinians), over 0.3% (Indigenous Australians) and 0.1% (non-Indigenous Australians).

The following quote from outstanding British journalist Robert Fisk concludes Bob Boldt's profoundly moving video essay Kindertotenlied (Song on the death of children) (see YouTube: <http://youtube.com/watch?v=qh3MOgEfDus>) on war, child suffering, politician silence and media complicity: "If you go to war, you realize it is not primarily about victory or defeat. It is about death and the infliction of death and suffering on as large a scale as you can make it. It is about the total failure of the human spirit. We don't show that because we don't want to. And in this sense, journalists, television reporting, television cameras are lethal. They collude with governments to allow you to have more wars. Because if they showed you the truth, you wouldn't allow any more wars."

Dr Gideon Polya



There are a lot of people talking terrorism this, terrorism that, but I would really like to know what the difference is between someone driving a donkey cart into a market place and blowing people up or someone wearing a military uniform dropping bombs on civilians from 10,000 metres in the air.

For Americans to feign a holier than thou attitude after Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Vietnam and the bombing campaigns of the Iraq War, is denial to say nothing of unqualified, all-out hypocrisy. Perhaps it's time for not only America but all nations to redefine "terrorism" as simply the murder of unarmed civilians. Then and only then will "terrorism" — in all its forms — be eradicated from our struggling planet.

Joe Rankin

Kyoto, Japan

Israel's wars

On October 28, I received a Vote Socialist Alliance leaflet in the mail. And given I am a committed leftie, I found myself agreeing with many of the key recommendations: tear up Work Choices, make poverty history, provide free health and education, and a guaranteed liveable income for those on welfare. All sit comfortably with my social justice beliefs.

But then I read further and found that the SA lead Senate candidate is mainly running on a foreign policy platform headed by campaigning against Israel's war on Lebanon and Palestine which sounded odd.

Firstly, I doubt more than half of 1% of Australian voters think this is a significant issue in an Australian election. And secondly, I fail to see why a socialist group concerned with class and social inequalities would depict the Israeli-Palestinian/Arab national conflict in such black and white terms. There are moderates and extremists on both sides in the Middle East, and violent and racist Islamic fundamentalist groups such as the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas are hardly natural allies of the secular Left. Go figure.

Philip Mendes

Kew, Vic

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