Editorial

Debate about the Labor-Greens carbon price has dominated Australian politics for the past year. So it is little surprise that the passing of the carbon price laws through parliament on November 8 received widespread media attention.

But the media’s coverage overshadowed two shocking new reports on the climate emergency released in the past week.

The NSW government was evasive for several days on whether it would allow uranium exploration and mining, banned since 1986.

This followed the call by federal resources minister Martin Ferguson in May for NSW and Victoria to rethink their uranium mining bans.

Premier Barry O’Farrell and resources minister Chris Hartcher finally said on August 5 they would not overturn the uranium mining ban.

In mid-June, Hartcher met the chief executive of the Australian Uranium Association Michael Angwin, who is lobbying to overturn the ban, the Sydney Morning Herald said.

It’s the best news on climate change for years, and you’ve probably not heard about it.

Spain’s new Gemasolar power plant produced uninterrupted clean energy all day and all night for the first time on July 3. That’s 24 hours of zero emissions power, here and now.

Gemasolar is a concentrated solar thermal power plant. It uses a field of mirrors to concentrate solar radiation in a central tower.

What’s new about Gemasolar is that the plant can store solar energy for up to 15 hours. That’s baseload renewable energy, supplied all through the night.

The worst thing about the Labor government’s proposed carbon price scheme is that it’s a diversion from real action on climate change.

Few of its supporters say it will deliver significant renewable energy or emissions cuts any more — only that it will “start the process” and complement other measures.

See also: Green illusions and the carbon tax
Critical Decade report understates climate threat

The refugee deal struck between the Australian and Malaysian governments will put vulnerable, desperate refugees in great danger.

Under the agreement, the Gillard Labor government will deport to Malaysia 800 asylum seekers that arrive in Australia by boat. Malaysia has not signed the United Nations Refugee Convention.

The deportations will be automatic. Men, women, children — the government has promised it will make no exceptions. They will be deemed unworthy of protection, regardless of their circumstances.

See also:

Climate change is often called the greatest environment threat facing humanity.

The threat is very real. Unless we cut carbon pollution fast, runaway climate change will worsen existing environmental and social problems, and create new ones of its own.

But it’s no longer enough to simply refer to the climate crisis. Climate change is one part of a broader ecological disaster, brought about by an economic system that relies on constant growth, endless accumulation and ever-deepening human alienation.

The United Nations Security Council voted on March 19 to approve a military intervention into Libya, with 10 votes in favour and five absentions.

It was presented as a response to calls from besieged rebels fighting the Muammar Gaddafi dictatorship for a “no-fly zone” to protect them, especially in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. The rebels also said they opposed “Western intervention”.

Liberal leader Tony Abbott is a climate change denier. He told a recent meeting in Perth that he still doubted the science of climate change and said: “Whether carbon dioxide is quite the environmental villain that some people make it out to be is not yet proven.”

His party’s campaign against the carbon price deal struck between the Labor government, the Greens and independent MPs has one central aim: to undermine public support for strong government action to tackle climate change.

Climate change was a big factor in the devastating floods that swept through Queensland and other states in January. For decades, scientists have warned that carbon pollution will lead to more frequent weather disasters.

The floods are yet more evidence that we must quickly phase out fossil fuels and embrace 100% renewable energy.

As the flood crisis began to emerge, University of Melbourne climate scientist David Karoly told ABC News on December 31 that the extreme weather was not so unexpected.

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