The scientists are horrified. But not being media-savvy publicists, they generally leave their shocking findings in scientific journals. The politicians quote cautious statements issued by scientific committees early in the decade, and worry about scaring off corporate funding. The business executives look for the chance of new profits, and hire public relations experts to advise them on cultivating a green image.
If you’ve sat in front a TV in the past few weeks, you’ll have seen the message: Australians need to get “climate clever” just like the Howard government, which, we’re told, is encouraging and funding new, environmentally friendly technologies such as “clean coal”. In fact, we’re led to believe, the government has put some $3.5 billion in recent years into new methods for combatting climate change.
With support from the South Australian Labor government and the federal ALP, pilot work is starting on the desalination plant that is to supply fresh water for BHP Billitons planned expansion of its copper-gold-uranium mine at Olympic Dam.
Late February three wealthy business leaders with close Liberal Party connections Robert de Crespigny, Ron Walker and Hugh Morgan announced the formation of Australian Nuclear Energy to develop nuclear power generation. Prime Minister John Howard praised the initiative as a great idea.
The federal governments Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy Review, released on November 21, had only one real purpose to provide John Howard with evidence for championing the nuclear power cycle.
What other conclusion can we come to, when the review made its assessments while ignoring Australias most spectacular renewable energy resource the hot dry rock geothermal energy of the Cooper Basin and other regions.
In the final years of perestroika, when there was little in Soviet shops except bare shelves and bored salespeople, Russians could still comfort themselves: at least you could always get bread. In four or five varieties, at prices so low they are almost painful to remember: about 25 kopecks (at the time, a few US cents) for a half-kilo loaf.