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Aug 20, 2008

ian Macfarlane on GW

There are precious few of our state or federal politicians here who I tend to hold in considerable respect. Few tend to really think far beyond party lines or hold much in the way of original ideas and fewer of those who do tend to talk about it, never mind stand up for anything.

Ian Macfarlane is one who impressed me from the time he first started to make news in agripolitics. He was never another new face pushing the same tired old ideas, but a whole fresh approach.

He was President of the Queensland Graingrowers Association for seven years, President of the Grains Council of Australia for two years and simultaneously held executive positions on the Queensland and National Farmers Federations.

Ian entered federal politics in 1998 taking the seat of Groom and spent most of his time on the front benches until the defeat of the Howard government last year, and is now shadow minister for trade.

The following is from the Julius Kruttschnitt Lecture for 2008 by him to the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.

The link is well worth following but the gist of it is, that while he does not dismiss the possibility of human activity influencing climate warming he seems to be prepared to take on the hysteria that surrounds the subject, making the point that the attacks on those who challenge the sacred cow of GW in any degree is a gross violation of the right of free speech.

To find an equivalent member of federal parliament, I think you would need to go right back to someone like Bill Wentworth, or even Charlie Russell

The Rudd Government is fond of trumpeting that its ETS will be the most comprehensive in the world but, on present form, it will also be the most scant-on-detail scheme in the world.
The potential economic impact of this scheme, not only on the resources and energy sector, but across all facets of our economy, simply cannot be overstated.

The interests of Australia, its businesses, export industries and residents will be best served by a rational and reasonable approach to addressing climate change in Australia and the world's carbon emissions.

That will require the enlisting of tenacious and smart men and women of the resource industry, along with scientists and academics to bring some rationality and natural caution to this debate.

And rationality and caution haven't been to the fore so far.

The climate change/carbon emission debate is a phenomenon of the last 10 years. Until then the environmentalists spent their time attacking de-forestation and pollution - particulates, SO2 and NO2.

Carbon emissions barely raised an eyebrow.

Then came Al Gore, Sir Nicolas Stern and a one in one hundred year drought that brought water shortages into Australia's suburbia - a perfect storm to foster fears and insecurities.
The carbon debate began in earnest and it has been emotional, sometimes irrational and always political.

Carbon dioxide is a colourless, odourless, non-toxic inert gas that makes up less than 0.05% of the Earth's atmosphere.

Yet according to experts, any significant increase will cause more floods, more droughts, and the end of civilisation in some parts of the world.

Anyone who dares question this prediction is immediately branded a sceptic and subjected to scorn and ridicule by political opponents, sections of the media and self-professed experts of all types and backgrounds.

I know, because the Labor Party was quick to brand me a climate change sceptic.
For the record I'm not a climate sceptic and never have been.

As a former farmer, the son of a farmer and a scientist and the grandson of a geologist I have always followed the evolution of the world's climate very closely.

You don't have to sift through too much information to see a clear pattern of ups and downs in the global temperature over the course of the history of our planet. Our planet's climate is changing and warming and has been doing so since the last ice age more than 10 000 years ago.

And I'm a pragmatist who accepts that based on the weight of scientific evidence combined with the democratic view of the vast majority of Australians, we can't take the risk that CO2 is not causing the Earth to warm more rapidly. ….

In this emotion-charged environment, it seems unless you're prepared to offer full blown acceptance of every single 'new' claim presented by climate change alarmists, you're nothing short of a lunatic or a heretic.

Worse still is the free use of the term climate change "denier".
A recent article in The Age newspaper made the comparison between calls for caution on climate change and the decision by Western leaders in the 1930s to ignore the build up of fascist forces.
(Source: Kenneth Davidson, "Sceptics should face the need to manage risk", The Age, 24.07.08)

This attack on free speech is unscrupulous and deceitful.

Yes, Australians should take the climate change issue seriously - I certainly do, but the question must be asked - whose interests are served by running a ruthless scare campaign that depicts scenarios of doom and destruction and attacks people in such a derogatory and personal way?

Last week, Dennis Shanahan, Political Editor for The Australian newspaper, raised a fundamental point when he wrote:

How can there be an informed public debate and a sensible political dialogue on an emissions trading scheme when 32 per cent of Australians believe "climate change is entirely caused by human activity", according to a Newspoll survey last month? 
That means one in three of those surveyed, and 40 per cent of those surveyed aged 18 to 34, are unaware of climate changes before human existence or of dramatic changes - ice ages - since humans were but a pinprick on the Earth's surface. 
Not even Al Gore suggests that humans are entirely responsible for climate change. Yet the Rudd Government is planning the most momentous reform for the Australian economy with one-third of the voting and tax-paying population completely misinformed. 
(Source: Dennis Shanahan, Political editor, 'FuelWatch flop a blessing for Rudd,' The Australian, 15.08.08)

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