Sunday, February 7, 2010

BBC on Australia's shifting Climate Politics

Simon over on Australian Climate Madness describes this BBC video as a must see. He is correct. It provides an excellent snapshot of the change in public opinion that has occurred in Australia with support for taxing the climate falling fast.

I see this amongst my own "associates". Twelve months ago non belief in catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) resulted in barely concealed sneers. Such strong opinions on science from people who couldn't plot a simple regression line if their lives depended upon it I must admit surprised me at first. Now a skeptical position receives either open support in the majority of cases or at least a considered hearing. Interestingly the most vocal supporter of climate change that I personally know (who has gone strangely quiet in recent months) also strongly believes the moon landings were faked by NASA and yet has no difficulty in basing their own belief in CAGW on "the science" - none of which they have actually read.

I still find it amazing just how quickly public opinion is shifting. What was only a few months ago political suicide now stands a chance of bringing a government undone. This of course is not certain and anything can happen, but the question is now a political one and that is where the battle is being fought. Actually thinking about it the issue has always been political right back to the original formation of the now discredited political activist body, the UN IPCC.

Any that actually know me who are reading this will recall me saying over the last year or two that as soon as the Australian CAGW believers are asked to put the first $20 of their own money on the table to pay for global warming you will see them turn and run. In Australia you see there is this belief, and it is a strongly held one, that when governments talk of "taxing polluters" that somehow that doesn't mean us i.e. the average taxpayer or citizen. Of course all costs will be passed on to the consumer. We are the polluters. We demand and buy the goods produced. This is being played upon now by PM Kevin Rudd who talks about making “polluters pay”. Kevin defines CO2 as pollution. Naturally if a power station pays for producing CO2 it will raise its electricity prices. It is so simple and yet it seems to have come as a "great big suprise" to many Australians. Perhaps it is the same everywhere.

It seems however that Australians are quickly now realising that it is us who will have to pay for climate beliefs in cold hard cash and many former CAGW believers are turning tail and running fast in the opposite direction. There is a saying here, "money talks, bullshit walks" that is particularly apt in the current political situation.

Kevin Rudd says he will "compensate" low to middle income earners for the extra cost of his great big tax on climate. Two problems:

1. that is where much of the tax dollars come from so it will be a deficit breaking expense - of course he won't do this. The promise will be quickly be broken. In fact it seems from TV interviews it has been broken before it even starts.

2. why would you compensate people when the whole point is to change behaviour by placing a price signal on carbon for heaven’s sake. Compensating consumers distorts the very signal one is trying to produce!

I commend this video to Australian readers or to anyone who wants to get a feel for the political position here as it stands today.

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