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July 10, 2008

The Voice of Fear

The suggestion that we should begin a carbon trading scheme in Australia in 2010 has set the voices of fear alight, once again proving the difficulty of conducting serious and mature political debate in this country. What is most disappointing is hearing the Victorian Premier, John Brumby, starting to forecast electricity shortages even before the complete debate about the scheme has got into first gear. The news report last night forecast shortages this coming summer, which is pure nonsense. How can a non-existent emissions trading scheme in the summer of 2008-2009 result in shortages of supply? I am unsure whether this fear-mongering is an interpretation placed by a reporter over the Premier's remarks, but it underlines the sense of disappointment in the moral fibre of our leadership when they start playing on short-term fears. It is the type of politics we hoped to have seen the last of for some time in the wake of the defeat of the Howard government, which was masterful in such politics.
While the science of global warming has much to both commend and question, there is no doubt that in terms of the health of the planet we are entering into uncharted waters. Instead of crying "Wolf!" or doing the Chicken Little act: "The Sky is Falling!" perhaps we would hope that our leadership might point to the opportunities for innovative and creative solutions to the identified problem of increased carbon emissions. Alas, it seems that we would rather play fear and avoid responsibilities.
In Australia it is hard to justify the absence of a serious effort at solar power and other forms of renewable energy. Instead of playing fear, we should be positioning our state and nation to be at the forefront of renewable energy. So we might have to let brown coal - in such abundant supply - remain in the ground for a longer period. What loss is there if we can develop new export industries which have a healthier contribution to the planet?
It remains to be seen whether the Federal Government has the guts to do the hard work. They'll be peppered with fear on all sides.

Posted by gary at July 10, 2008 02:41 PM


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