Write On: Letters to the editor


Garrett's a hypocrite

As a longtime anti-nuclear and anti-uranium campaigner, former state coordinator of the Nuclear Disarmament Party (Tasmania) and other organisations, I write to publicly express my utter disgust with Peter Garrett and the Australian Government's decision to open a new uranium mine in SA.

I do not accept Minister Garrett's lame excuses about adherence to the party line, after the ALP discarded its no new mines policy. While Mr Garrett says he "remains opposed to uranium mining", he is part of a government and system that encourages it. Sounds like an extremely hypocritical position to me.

Just because he has joined a conservative party like the ALP in the vain hope of changing it, does not mean he has to stick with it as it continues its increasingly right-wing shift. Sadly, like most politicians Mr Garrett has put loyalty to the party above principle and duty to the people and the environment.

If Garrett were genuine about his opposition to uranium, he'd be striving to close mines down, not open new ones. As one of Midnight Oil's songs, Dead Heart, rightly said, "companies … got more say than people". They certainly have with this pathetic government. We, the people need to change that, as there is no semblance of hope that Garrett and the ALP ever will.

Steven Katsineris,
Hurstbridge, Vic [Abridged.]

Too many people?

It's good to see the population debate given some space in GLW. Australia's rapid population increase is entirely artificial: we have a growing (but still negative) birth rate, so our population growth comes from immigration. The bulk of this immigration comes not from refugees or compassionate family reunion programs (both of which can be sustainably increased), but from the odious practice of big business "poaching" skilled workers from poorer countries.

This poaching has two effects: it deprives Australians of the training needed to gain meaningful work, and it robs the "donor" countries of much-needed skills.

The impact of Australia's rapidly-increasing population on our environment and lifestyle is the "elephant in the room", which is rarely mentioned in polite left society.

In Third World, countries runaway population growth, caused through a lethal combination of imperialist exploitation and religious fundamentalism, contributes towards mass starvation.

Yes, there are other causes, but population is an undeniable factor.
Simon Butler (GLW #797) suggested that this food shortage could be fixed by people eating a plant-based diet supplemented with small amounts of meat. Nice idea, but this is how most people in the world eat today.

A desire to achieve a sustainable population for Australia and the world should not be mistaken for racism. A sustainable planet is, as Jane Addison (GLW #805) observed, a case of simple mathematics: more people consume more stuff.

Alex Milne
Melbourne [Abridged.]

Rann's Roxby rollover

South Australia currently emits 29 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. For SA to reach the legislated 60% cuts in emissions by 2050, this would need to be 13 million tonnes.

However Premier Mike Rann is planning to approve the expansion of the Olympic Dam Mine at Roxby Downs, which will produce 5.8 million tonnes of CO2 each year.

If you're wondering why this mine will create so much greenhouse gas, it's because it will need 525MW of power, which is around 32% of our state's total base-load electricity supply: that's every house, street light, business, all of SA's industry, the lot.

The mine will also consume over 1 million litres of diesel every single day. We could demand that this expansion is run on a 500MW solar thermal generation facility, but Rann won't stand up to BHP. There is no plan from our so-called green premier to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Mike Rann talks the talk, but is far from even taking a single step towards sustainability in South Australia.

Richard Bergin
Kensington, SA

Is population the problem?

I write in response to Jess Moore's article "Climate change: is population the problem?" (GLW #806).

Blaming all environmental problems on "the mode of production" is simplistic. Even with a switch in the mode of production of goods, an increase in the production of "green" products may have little impact on carbon emissions.

Statisticians Mutaugh and Schlax (2009) calculated that for the United States, recycling newspapers/glass saves only 17 metric tons of CO2 over an individual's life. An American reducing the number of children they have by one saves between 562 and 12,730. Mutaugh & Schlax (2009) summarised that "clearly an individual's reproductive choices can have a dramatic effect on the total carbon emissions".

My article "Population and consumption: two sides of the one coin" (GLW #805) did not "argue that we must prevent migration from Third World to First World countries". The article acknowledged that as global citizens who contribute in creating the environment that causes people to flee their homes, we are obliged to open our doors.

Moore accepts that the planet has finite resources. How many people does she believe Australia can support? I look forward to Moore's, or anyone else's, response.

Jane Addison
by email