Renfrey Clarke

If there were an Olympics for climate amorality, Australia’s capitalists would be hauling in the medals. Just consider this quote from Queensland coal baron Clive Palmer in the December 15 Australian: “The Galilee Basin overall has got 100 billion tonnes of thermal coal, so it’s a great reservoir for Queensland in the future, so you’d be crazy not to develop it.” And it’s not just coal, but any greenhouse-polluting fuel that can be can be dug or drilled from the landscape or seabed. Take Australia’s natural gas industry, poised now for a vast expansion.
Under heavy public pressure, the South Australian government of Labor Premier Mike Rann appears to be wavering in its support for mining uranium in the Arkaroola wilderness in the state’s north. On February 18, the Adelaide Advertiser gave front-page headlines to reports that Arkaroola, a privately-held nature sanctuary and ecotourism site in the Flinders Ranges about 600 kilometres north of the state capital, could be declared a national park.
If a city drowns beneath a once-in-a-hundred-years flood, that's weather. Such things have happened in the past. But when hundred-year floods start happening every few decades, that's no longer just weather. The dice have become loaded for different outcomes. Climate — that is, the average of weather — is changing. So let's get down to the question everyone's asking. Were this summer's floods the result of climate change?
Dismayed by the Labor government’s inaction on climate change and looking for an alternative? Don’t look to the Liberals. If the ALP has been dodgy on the issue, Tony Abbott’s party has been dodgier. Sincere commitment on the issue is hard for Abbott. At a public meeting last September, he said global warming was “absolute crap”. But the Liberal leader is remarkably consistent on one thing — the “need” to funnel large amounts of public money to big business.
Say what you will about coal, but at least it stays where it’s put. On its way to the user, coal doesn’t gush from the rail trucks, spreading itself through the atmosphere and warming it at about 70 times the rate of carbon dioxide. Natural gas is different. A new draft study provides evidence that, in the US, enough natural gas leaks into the air to give gas-fired electricity, megawatt-hour for megawatt-hour, a bigger greenhouse impact than electricity from good-quality steaming coal.
As towns go, Orroroo in South Australia might seem small, but with 850 people it is one of the larger stops on the road between Broken Hill and Port Augusta. The countryside around it is marginal farmland. Only in the occasional year is there enough rain for a good crop of wheat, and in a process with well-researched links to global warming, the wet years have been getting fewer. It is ironic, therefore, that this district 250 kilometres north of Adelaide now seems destined to hurry climate change along.
Journalists at the ABC have come under strong pressure from the organisation’s chairperson to give more weight to the views of climate change deniers.
When a respected scientific journal carries a peer-reviewed article branding the key technology behind “clean coal” as “profoundly non-feasible”, you’d think governments and coal corporations would react in some fashion.
The River, Lakes and Coorong Action Group (RLCAG) has sent out a probing questionnaire that asks candidates in the March 20 South Australian elections to answer 76 questions relating to the River Murray and the lakes at its mouth.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an organisation whose time has passed. It needs to be dismantled.
How to sum up the Liberal Party’s “direct action” scheme to tackle global warming? Well, how about: a fraud wrapped in demagogy inside a delusion?
Climate change deniers, conservative politicians and right-wing newspaper columnists were all but incontinent with delight. Flooding the internet in mid-November were thousands of documents and private emails that had been exchanged over more than a decade by prominent climate scientists.
Adelaide's Central Bus Station is an austere but pleasing building built recently near the middle of town. No longer merely for coach travellers, the structure is now to be Adelaide's version of the New Orleans Superdome — a place of public refuge from what threatens, in time, to be another full-scale natural catastrophe.
Admit it: you’re just a little disturbed when industrialists, fossil-fuel lobbyists and the Liberal and National parties thunder that big, quick cuts to carbon emissions would bankrupt Australian business. Well, aren’t you?
Not in so many words, mind you — frankness has rarely been the strong suit of News Corporation journalists and editors. The editorial in question, published in Rupert Murdoch’s Australian on September 10, argued in support of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS): in other words, “clean coal”.
From desert-fringe villages and drowning atolls, global warming is predicted to set climate refugees on the move. But arguably, the first climate refugees to reach Australia’s major cities are arriving already. And the places from which they have come are not exotic — rural towns like Mildura, Renmark and Griffith.

Pages

Subscribe to Renfrey Clarke