Tom Switzer: Game Finally Up For Carboncrats

  • Date: 13/01/14
  • Tom Switzer, The Sydney Morning Herald

Historians will probably look back at the years 2006-2009 as the time when the climate hysteria reached its peak, when rational debate was at its most restricted and politicians at their most gullible. Those days are over. The climate-change Cassandras are increasingly marginalised here and abroad.

<i>Illustration: John Shakespeare.</i>

It was promoted as the voyage to study the melting of ice sheets in the South Pole as well as to retrace Douglas Mawson’s perilous expedition a century ago.

Yet the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, led by UNSW climatologist Chris Turney, has become a comedy goldmine.

In case you missed the story during your Christmas break, the researchers became trapped in ice so thick that Chinese rescue attempts could not reach the frozen ship.

“It fell to Professor Turney’s ship to play the role of our generation’s Titanic,” Canadian satirist Mark Steyn noted. “Unlike the original, this time round the chaps in the first-class staterooms were rooting for the iceberg.”

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And Parish-based writer Anne Jolis quipped: “Maybe the climate-change researchers even raised a glass, if they had any liquor left. They certainly had enough ice.”

Humour aside, events such as this indicate dark days for green enthusiasts.

Tony Abbott’s likely repeal of the unpopular carbon tax this year reflects a global trend: the anti-carbon agenda is being subjected to the most intense scrutiny, and is found wanting.

The Kyoto treaty effectively expired a year ago. Prospects for a replacement are virtually zero. Rich nations are rejecting climate compensation for the developing world. Europe is in a coal frenzy. Germany, a former green trend-setter, is slashing unaffordable subsidies to the renewables industry. The European Parliament is losing confidence in the EU emissions trading scheme. No Asian nation has an emission trading scheme in operation. China’s and India’s net emissions are growing dramatically and governments, most recently Japan’s, are abandoning earlier pledges to reduce their nations’ carbon footprints. Even US Democrats, notwithstanding President Obama’s direct action-style energy plan, won’t pass modest carbon-pricing bills in the Congress. Add to this those debunked predictions (remember the vanishing Himalayan glaciers, disappearing North Polar ice cap?), and it is clear that Tim Flannery’s moment has come and gone.

Meanwhile, 2013 marked the 15th year of flat-lined global surface temperatures, despite record levels of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere since 1998. And as the US shale “fracking” revolution shows, the most efficient way to cut emissions is not via command-and-control regulation but by allowing private drillers to expand natural gas production.

Of course, the environmental doomsayers remain apocalyptic. You try going on the ABC’s Q&A and raise doubts about global-warming alarmism. You will still see the inner-city studio audience treating you not merely with hostility but with open-mouthed incredulity.

The climate-change Cassandras are increasingly marginalised here and abroad.

When they abuse, intimidate and victimise anyone with the temerity to criticise the fanaticism of their movement, the inclination of ordinary Australians is either to shrug their shoulders with a profound lack of interest or to grimace at this moral grandstanding.

Historians will probably look back at the years 2006-09 as the time when the climate hysteria reached its peak in Australia, when rational debate was at its most restricted and politicians at their most gullible.

These were the days of drought, unseasonal bushfires, An Inconvenient Truth, the Garnaut Report and, of course, Kevin Rudd’s “greatest moral challenge”.

Crikey, even Rupert Murdoch was “giving the planet the benefit of doubt”.

Contrary to media stereotypes, many so-called sceptics – such as Abbott, John Howard, Maurice Newman and this writer – recognised that the rise in carbon dioxide as a result of the burning of fossil fuels led to moderate warming.

But because we questioned the doomsday scenarios and radical, costly government-directed plans to decarbonise the economy, we were denounced as “deniers”.

Those days are over.

Thanks to Abbott’s forceful critique of Labor’s ETS/carbon tax, and the persistent failure of the carboncrats to reach legally binding global agreements, Australians have risen up against this madness.

At last, there is recognition not just that there are at least two sides to every story, but that when sophisticates seek to shut down debate, it amounts to an attack on the public interest.

That is why the anti-carbon zealots have become so defensive. The game is up.

The idea of climate mitigation – carbon taxes, cap and trade, channelling taxpayer subsidies to wind and solar power – destroyed the leaderships not only of Malcolm Turnbull in 2009 and Rudd in 2010, but also of Julia Gillard and Rudd (again) last year.

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