Letters

Some Recent Successes in Letters Being Published:

We have continued to be successful with Letters to the Age on relevant climate change issues, most consistently the review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET). There have been some terrific articles from Age journalists recently.
We have been at Festivals with our stall demonstrating  the model of the Spanish solar thermal power station that generates power day and night, and have collected many signatures on letters to politicians and on submissions to the RET Review. 

The Age , 24  June 2014



 

The Age , 7  June 2014

Gift spiked with poison

Tony Abbott tells the mining industry that Australia's role is to provide cheap coal and gas energy to the world. That's quite a claim. While China and the US are now starting to take climate change seriously, Mr Abbott believes that energy generation choices are not an economic matter and don't need to be discussed at the G20 in Brisbane.
The sleeper in this debate is pollution and its effect on health and associated costs. China and the US recognise the importance of this, in both human and economic terms. The recent events in Morwell are just the tip of the iceberg. What Mr Abbott didn't say was that our cheap coal and gas energy gift to the world is spiked with poison. As any wise emu knows, a head in the sand approach is not a good look for those watching from behind.

William Chandler, Surrey Hills



No consistency …

While the secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organisation proclaims ''time is running out'' to preserve our planet for future generations, our government continues on its reckless path of destroying all of the emission abatement mechanisms that have been established.
Furthermore, it is prepared to let the whole automotive manufacturing industry die through its refusal to put up any more subsidies, yet it has no hesitation in continuing to subsidise and protect an industry that should be encouraged to die - coal-fired power generation. There seems no end to the inappropriate decisions this government is making based on an ideology that is totally foreign to us.

Robert Brown, Mount Waverley


The Age, 6 June 2014

Redefinition beggars belief

Unlike its federal counterpart, the Napthine de facto climate-denier government doesn't even pretend to have a Clayton's plan to tackle climate change. Now it wants to classify gas, another carbon-polluting fossil fuel, as renewable energy. What bit of ''renewable'' doesn't it understand (''Push to redefine 'renewable' '', 4/6)?
We are already in extraordinarily dangerous times, with parts of the Antarctic ice in irreversible warming and mega bushfires destroying vast tracts of the US, Amazonian and Australian forests that we depend on to draw carbon out of the air. So fierce are these fires that they burn the soil and destroy all chance of tree regeneration. We have an El Nino coming, and last summer's 41-degree temperatures and the Hazelwood fire are the harbingers of what is to come. Please just go, Premier Napthine.

Lynne Holroyd, East Hawthorn


Does the Premier really think gas is a renewable energy source? He must be thinking about all the hot air generated by our politicians.

John Kirk, Canterbury

Pass on advantages of superior policy



If Mr Abbott accepts that climate change is real, why is he refusing to include climate change on the agenda for the G20 meeting in Australia later this year? If he really believes that his government's ''direct action'' policy is the lowest-cost way of reducing emissions, surely Mr Abbott would want to discuss its advantages with other world leaders and help them develop similar, superior emission reduction programs. That Mr Abbott is determined to avoid any discussion at the G20 on climate change, much less the Coalition's policy responses, is revealing indeed.

Rod Williams, Surrey Hills



The Age , 31 May 2014

Crossed wires

''I can think of few things more damaging to our future,'' said the Prime Minister this week. I thought he must be talking about the impact of carbon emissions on our climate, after our hottest May ever. But, no, it was the Minerals Council of Australia annual dinner he was addressing and it was the suggestion that we leave the biggest source of these emissions, coal, in the ground that was being derided.
So, when all other countries are slowing their use of coal because of the devastating impact of its pollution - not to mention the survival of the planet as we know it, our leader says, ''it is our destiny in this country to bring affordable energy to the world''.
But the value of coal is dropping and will continue to. Fewer and fewer nations will want to burn it, and we'll be left with a stranded asset, as well as paying the price of feeling the worst effects from climate change of all continents. How will this aspiration look in a few years? To quote Mr Abbott, ''really and truly, I can think of few things more damaging to our future''.

Carolyn Ingvarson, Canterbury


The Age , 27 May 2014

Action has been halted

It is not surprising that a Lowy Institute poll reported an increasing number of people worried about climate change and demanding action ''even if this involves significant costs'' (''Climate change back on worry list'', 24/5). The decline in climate concern shown from 2006 corresponds with government action to reduce Australia's emissions through a suite of measures including the renewable energy target and the price on carbon. In other words, most of us believed that action to tackle the threat was being taken on our behalf.
The Abbott government is trashing this role. It is blatantly anti-science and has appointed a climate science denier, Dick Warburton, along with fossil fuel consultant, Dr Brian Fisher, to review the renewable energy target with a view to a pre-determined outcome - the end of the renewable energy industry. No wonder we are worried. The government does not take seriously the responsibility we have entrusted to it to help stabilise the atmosphere and keep us safe.
Jenny Henty, Canterbury

The Age , 25 May 2014

Isolation game

While the world's top climate scientists urge increasingly drastic action, our government risks isolation with its irresponsible denial (''An island of action denial'', Editorial, 18/5). At the very time we need science-based unity, we have a stalemate between a deluded leadership fixated on economic freedom, fossil-fuel energy and vested interests; and an array of political and citizen opponents who see clearly that we must change the economy to renewables and take increased care of the environment. The balance of power in the Senate may be held by the unpredictable, ambitious Clive Palmer. Or might a minority break away from Coalition ranks and speak up for a safer and fairer world?
Barbara Fraser, Burwood

The Age , 21 May 2014.

Abbott can't silence everybody

The budget made it clear that we don't mention climate change. But look at the collection of articles in Wednesday's Age. Business lobby group AIG was arguing to keep the renewable energy target; Professor Jeffrey Sachs was pointing out that the world is moving on climate change, because it must, and that this government is likely to get thumped because it is so out of step; and then there was the prediction that El Nino is on track to bring an overheated climate system to our shores. Meanwhile, this budget ensures the renewable energy industry turns up its toes.
Carolyn Ingvarson, Canterbury


Diesel subsidy is senseless

While deaths related to air pollution are decreasing in most countries, an international report shows they have increased significantly in Australia (''Dirty air takes toll on lives, economy'', 23/5). Diesel fuel is listed as one of the culprits. Unfortunately, successive governments have turned up their noses at the chance to reduce the budget deficit and improve air quality by reforming the regressive fuel tax credit scheme. So while ordinary motorists pay tax of 38¢ a litre (and rising) for their fuel, companies like Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton pay 6¢ a litre for the diesel they use. This senseless subsidy does not encourage companies to become more efficient and will cost taxpayers $28 billion over the four years of the budget, more than the federal government provides to public schools.
Victoria McKenzie-McHarg, Climate Change Manager, ACF

The Age , 21 May 2014.

Picking and choosing to suit agenda

Tony Abbott says the government had a responsibility to future children that they should not be left worse off. Seems remarkably analogous to the climate change situation but Mr Abbott is quite happy to bequeath a hot, drying planet to his daughters, their children and the others of the future. But then you would have to understand and accept the science to recognise that.
But it is strange how medical science research gets different treatment, with a major funding boost. More picking and choosing to suit the political agenda. It is hard to see this budget as anything more than looking after the well connected, including fossil fuel and other big business interests, at the expense of the rest.
Robert Brown, Mount Waverley

The Age , 20 May 2014.

Unbeatable deal

Thank you, AGL, for suggesting that subsidies for renewable energy are no longer needed. Many people are voting with their own money for a cleaner environment and cheaper energy. Now, in the name of ''transparent rational economics'', ''level playing field'' and ''a fair go'', here's a deal: I'll stop supporting subsidies for renewables just as soon as we stop the counterproductive subsidies to highly polluting, fossil-fuel adventures.
William Chandler, Surrey Hills


The Age , 14 May 2014.

On side of polluters

Closing down solar and wind hurts households and business, and benefits big mining and coal-fired power station owners and their champions (''Abbott set to abandon solar, wind'', 13/5).
The lower marginal costs of clean energy forces down the wholesale electricity price, by replacing more expensive gas in peak periods. Clean energy has dampened the price gouging of network owners, many of whom are state governments. The Clean Energy Council says this dampening effect will make the average householder better off by $50 a year in 2020 if the renewable energy target is preserved and gas prices rise.
The government needs to decide if it's on the side of the public, which loves renewable energy, and wants more rooftop solar, lower electricity prices and a safe climate, or is the willing puppet of fossil fuel interests.
Lynne Holroyd, East Hawthorn

The Age , 10 May 2014.

Pray cool heads prevail

It would be a foolish, reckless and hypocritical federal government that impeded the growth of the renewable energy industry by winding back the renewable energy target (''Green energy cuts threaten jobs'', 9/5). The Coalition has gone to two elections promising to retain the target, claiming to accept climate science, promising to cut emissions by 5 per cent over 1990 levels and to put rooftop solar on an extra million rooftops.
Rooftop solar is extraordinarily popular, especially in outer suburbs and the countryside, where it has been adopted faster than in the inner city. People will not take kindly to a government that reneges on its promises, especially those that make rooftop solar easier to get.
The Clean Energy Council estimates that maintaining the target will create $14.5 billion of new investment, 18,400 new jobs and save the average household $50 in electricity bills by 2020. One can only trust that wiser, cooler heads will prevail in the cabinet over the handful of rabid climate deniers when the panel set up to review the target reports.
Lynne Holroyd, East Hawthorn

The Age, 10th May 2014  

Plea for common sense


So more than 6500 Victorian jobs are threatened by the probable removal of the 20 per cent renewable energy target. Premier Denis Napthine would demonstrate true vision for a safer future if his government helped the 17 wind energy projects now under review get off the ground.
After all, if Mr Guy can say that common sense dictates where new railway stations should be located when planning rail, surely common sense dictates that we must move away from coal as fast as possible in the light of looming climate change. The Premier would be thanked by our grandchildren for supporting wind energy, unlike Queensland's Campbell Newman, who will be reviled in the future for his opening up of the Galilee Basin and the export and burning of the state's huge coal reserves.

Jill Dumsday, Ashburton

The Age, 21 April, 2014.

Time to act, not debate

George Brandis seems highly confused. The science of climate change is just that - science - not a belief set like some religion. You either understand the science or you don't. It is based on an accumulation of data and its objective analysis, not on the teachings of an ancient religious order. And in that respect, it is settled and needs no further debate for the prime reason that so much precious time has been wasted by delayers and deniers. We do not need to intellectualise on whether we should act to save the planet, we just need to get on with it.
If Mr Brandis wants to navel-gaze the issue, he should consider the risk of not acting urgently and strongly as recommended by the UN, IPCC and climate scientists. If they are all wrong - no big deal. If they are right and we fail to act, then future generations will rightfully hold us to blame. The government is justifiably criticised for its failure to act in accord with the science and the views of world leaders.
Robert Brown, Mount Waverley

The Age, 20 April, 2014.

Picking on soft targets

Joe Hockey says "Australia has no choice but to take tough decisions in the federal budget" (13/4). So he acts "tough" by picking on soft targets like pensioners, social welfare, climate action and the ABC. However, he lacks the "ticker" to make the one really tough decision that would help balance the books: cut the billions in corporate welfare being handed out to the fossil fuel industry and the billionaire miners like Gina Rinehart.
John Kirk, Canterbury


The Age. 16 April, 2014 

Dangerous clique in control of policy












No wonder the Coalition's vote is going backwards and the Greens' vote is rising (''Abbott's poll slump'', 14/4). Australia is now ruled by the equivalent of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, with hate laws to be wound back, dames and knights prancing around and a finance minister stepping aside because of links with the disgraced Obeid family. To cap off the madness, the CSIRO is bracing for cuts of $150 million and the ABC is facing major cuts. Yet we have never needed our peak science body or national broadcaster to be stronger as greenhouse gases reach unprecedented levels and the human race faces its greatest existential crisis.

Mark Kenny reports there is concern that the push to dilute the Racial Discrimination Act has been driven by a tiny powerful clique. I suggest it is the same dangerously powerful clique of right-wing ideologues who deny climate science, see our future as totally tied to coal and gas and want to halt renewable energy dead in its tracks.

Lynne Holroyd, East Hawthorn



Focusing on trivial issues

We can do it. We can decarbonise our electricity generation in the next 20 years, because we have raw materials at hand already. We have sunshine and wind, more than enough to power Australia. And we have the expertise. What we don't have is political will. The UN is calling unambiguously for immediate and drastic cuts to carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon capture and storage is not a viable technology.
Meanwhile Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are looking only to matters that will prove themselves to be trivial if we have four degrees of warming by 2100. Large tracts of our country will be unliveable, regardless of the pension age and whether Japanese cars are $1500 cheaper. We need politicians to show real leadership. We and our grandchildren depend on them to do what no politician has been asked to do before; that is, to think far beyond the next election.
Jill Dumsday, Ashburton

Climate voices being buried

The UN calls for drastic action but we all know nothing will change. The ''captains of industry'', particularly those in mining, fossil fuels and energy, will use their political influence to ensure the status quo, from which they so handsomely profit, is preserved. In Italy, in October 2012, six scientists and a former government official were sentenced to six years in prison for manslaughter after the L'Aquila earthquake left more than 300 dead. They were convicted for failing to clearly communicate the risk of an earthquake occurring.
Climate scientists have repeatedly warned of the risks posed by climate change. Their predictions are being proven correct, but their voices are still being buried under an avalanche of denialist disinformation and untruths. Those individuals and organisations who create confusion on climate science to delay or prevent effective action must be held accountable. Their mendaciousness should result in prosecution for criminal negligence at the very least.
Helen Moss, Croydon

'Recalculate, recalculate'

Without blame or loss of face, when a car driver gets off-track their onboard GPS voice calmly says ''recalculating, recalculating'' and the new pathway becomes visible. The vast bulk of scientists have spoken, and deep down the vast bulk of Australians know the sooner we leave the path towards catastrophic climate change the better. No one expects a government to keep to an electoral program it now knows will expose its citizens to a frighteningly unsafe future. A PM and his government who cared deeply about the safety of their people would now also ''recalculate, recalculate''.
Yoland Wadsworth, Richmond
 

The Age, 5 April, 2014.

Leaders' lack of vision comes at a high price

Denis Napthine has declared his ''personal love for wind farms'', but Ted Baillieu's bans remain in force and Matthew Guy describes a report on the lost economic benefits as ludicrous (''Jobs lost to wind farm bans: report'', 6/4). Meanwhile, Labor says it would be ''looking at softening the system''. With an election on the horizon they all fiddle while the planet burns.
With a desperate need for clean, renewable forms of energy and new jobs (which are continually promised but seldom delivered), it seems the politicians suffer from what environmental psychologist Professor Rob Gifford describes as ''ancient brains'' - limited cognition with a focus on the here and now. A similar lack of vision afflicts the federal level, judging by the way neither major party won the popularity stakes at the WA Senate election.
Beverley McIntyre, Camberwell


 

Exposed to scary future

No surprises with denialist Tony Abbott's glib remark following the release of the latest IPCC report. The question now is where to from here for Australia's efforts on climate change. With the mechanisms for emission reductions being systematically torn down and replaced by a sop direct action plan, a Senate that is likely to abolish the working and self-funding carbon tax, and Victoria still firmly entrenched in job-slashing, anti-wind energy policies, all we are left with is political spin.
No future government will ever re-introduce a carbon tax or even a price on carbon emissions for fear of electoral backlash after the campaign of negativity we have seen. Once again Australia will lag the world where once we were among the leaders. We will again be a global embarrassment.
But why would we expect anything different from our leaders? We cannot even get a single high-speed rail line built. How could we expect collaboration on a complex issue such as climate change, which will expose us to more extreme droughts and flooding rains?
Robert Brown, Mount Waverley

The Age, 5 April, 2014.

No excuse for blindfold

Scientists - smart, rational people - never thought the world would be stupid enough to go full throttle ahead burning fossil fuels when we realised the catastrophic dangers. But here we are 26 years after the IPCC was set up, belatedly recognising that we are woefully unprepared for climate change.
Australia, a hot, dry country with limited water and a population hugging the fertile coast, is on the frontline of danger. Environment Minister Greg Hunt has asked the CSIRO to concentrate its shamefully reduced funding on climate change adaptation research on coastal flooding. The government's direct action is a recklessly inadequate response to climate change. It is reminiscent of a boy with his finger in the dyke as a tsunami - self-inflicted, in this case - approaches. Maybe a lucky charm would help. The blindfold is already spoken for.
Lynne Holroyd, East Hawthorn

The Age, 2 April, 2014.

Perhaps Japan could retaliate by taking Australia to the world court over our ineffective actions on climate change.
Robert Brown, Mount Waverley

Progress Press, 2 April, 2014.




The Age, 2 April, 2014.

Struggling to find better system

Respected and conservative climate scientist James Hansen, formerly of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre, has long advocated a ''carbon fee-and-dividend system that places a flat across-the-board rising fee on the carbon content of fuels with the funds distributed 100 per cent to legal residents''. Sound familiar? Or is it something akin to Australia's well-established and working carbon tax? Having branded this a dumb policy, Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey now have to come up with something better. The solution needs to be not only ''cost-effective'' but actually protect this country from the consequences of uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions. We are waiting.
John Gare, Kew East

Picking and choosing who to believe

On the one hand, Mr Abbott can place much faith in scientists and their technological mastery while ''operating on guesstimates'', huge amounts of money, and regression analyses ('' 'Best brains in the world' in search for plane: PM'', 1/4). On the other hand he cannot accept the factual evidence and the projections from that evidence that are provided by another group of best brains in the world, aka climate scientists, that the climate is changing rapidly, that humans are responsible and the time to act, dramatically and decisively, is now.
Cathy McNab, Hawthorn

The Age, 30 March, 2014.

Today's children will look back in anger

The latest report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells us yet again, as we have been told many times already, that the climate is changing at a rate that will endanger much of the earth's living systems in the lifetime of people alive today ("Australia in hot seat: climate report", 23/3). Yet the Abbott government continues on its reckless path of undermining Australia's contribution to global efforts to cut emissions by undoing carbon pricing and winding back renewable energy uptake. Why? They are not stupid.
We can only conclude that, as was the case under John Howard, the fossil fuel industry is again in charge of climate policy. Australia lost a decade of possible action under Howard. It stands to lose another under Abbott. Today's children who will live the reality of climate change will look back in anger at what this generation has bequeathed them.
Michael Hassett, Blackburn

An even better idea

What a relief to learn that the government is refunding the National Climate Change Adaption Research Facility. I do hope it provides answers for increasing bushfires, flood, drought, heat stress deaths, climate refugees and the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.
Here's a thought: why not refund the Climate Commission, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and retain the self-funding carbon tax and the renewable energy target. Internationally acclaimed economist Nicholas Stern in his famous 2006 report effectively said that a stitch in time (1 per cent of GDP) saved nine (5 to 20 per cent of GDP).
Lynne Holroyd, East Hawthorn

The Age, 24 March, 2014.

Meet the New Martin

Labor’s former resources minister Martin Ferguson, who supported the renewable energy target, now blames it for the downturn in electricity (‘‘ Rio touts coal future over climate ‘idealism’’’ , Business, 21/3). Could it be the very popular take-up of solar panels that is concerning the power industry? (Of course, Ferguson is now advising the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, according to your article.) What a turncoat. I thought carbon capture and storage was a long and expensive way off. 

Compare this with ‘‘ Clean energy loan waved through’ ’ (Business, 19/3), which states that the $31 million Perth Wave Energy Project could make Australia a world leader in wave technology. Perhaps the plant will then be abolished by the Coalition at the behest of the oh-so-powerful power industry afraid of a downturn in profits . Who is running this country? 

Beverley McIntyre, Camberwell



The Age, 21 March, 2014.

If science can tell us about the first trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang, perhaps we can believe them about climate change as well.
Malcolm Cameron, Camberwell

The Age, 15 March, 2014.













Labor conflicted due to role of mining industry


Gay Alcorn is spot on (Comment, 4/3). Given the risks posed to Australia from the Abbott government's irresponsible destruction of emission reduction measures (carbon price and renewable energy targets), Labor's inability to expose the sham that is Coalition climate policy is a disgrace. Mr Abbott has been allowed to essentially lie about the impact of the carbon tax. The Coalition is actively undermining global efforts to tackle climate change, causing immense risk to Australia through increased severe weather and agricultural dislocation.
Perhaps Labor is conflicted by the role mining plays in Australia's indirect contribution to emissions. Emissions from fossil fuel exports exceed our entire national emissions and are set to double or treble if the mining industry has its way. These dwarf any domestic abatement measures. These activities contribute less than 4 per cent of GDP and 2 per cent of jobs. We need to start developing industries of the future based on clean energy, not planet-destroying coal and gas mining.
Michael Hassett, Blackburn

Lifestyles are simply too indulgent


Even those who accept climate science need to be challenged about their commitment. We need to tackle our indulgent lifestyle choices such as our use of cars, our use of air travel for frivolous trips and our over-consumption of resources. Moreover, we have been conditioned to believe that all work should be performed by fossil fuel-powered machines rather than by ourselves. Thus able-bodied people will drive to the gym to run on a treadmill to burn off excess kilojoules. A real commitment to forestalling climate change involves actual physical work and renouncing our insanely indulgent lifestyle.

Tim Hartnett, Mont Albert North

Maggie Thatcher led the way


Margaret Thatcher said it as well as anyone back in November 1990, when speaking at the UN's 2nd World Climate Conference: ''The danger of global warming is as yet unseen, but real enough for us to make changes and sacrifices, so that we do not live at the expense of future generations. Our ability to come together … will be perhaps the greatest test of how far we can act as a world community. No one should underestimate the imagination that will be required, nor the scientific effort, nor the unprecedented co-operation we shall have to show. We shall need statesmanship of a rare order.''

Local politicians are failing her test most dismally. This issue transcends politics, requiring a united front. How on earth can Australia, let alone the world, reduce its emissions to where they need to be by 2050 without a consensus approach? Where are the statesmen and women with the courage to talk across party lines to develop realistic policy? If we can't even do it here, what hope is there for global consensus? Yet the future of the world's children depends on it.

Joan Selby Smith, Blackburn

It's a black day when the Abbott government and big business get away with blue murder on climate change because Labor baulks at taking too green a position. Makes me see red.
Carolyn Ingvarson, Canterbury


The Age, 13 March, 2014.

Sun is setting for old technology

The shameful last-ditch fight of big coalminers and power retailers against renewable energy should be seen for what it is: a doomed, Canute-like fight to preserve profits and hold back the inevitable. Coal-fired power stations have had plenty of warning to draw up a business plan that acknowledges two obvious developments: that clean energy would keep getting cheaper and the world would be forced to act on climate change. If they are finding the going tough, they should, to use the Prime Minister's words, ''put their house in order''. Why should householders be threatened with extra charges for solar because these dinosaurs refuse to plan a fast transition to clean power?
Lynne Holroyd, East Hawthorn

I am reminded of the adage, ‘‘ An eye for an eye . . . until all go blind’’ . I would prefer this to a nuclear war. 

Beverley McIntyre, Camberwel


Progress Press, 11 March, 2014.




The Age, 9 March, 2014.

Holistic inquiry

The major political parties constantly vie for the high ground in economic management, but the facts they rely on are highly subjective. A rational approach to economics requires consideration of short-term and long-term benefits and costs and, most importantly, transparency about who benefits and who pays.
The Age/Nielsen poll (''Poll bad news for east-west link'', 2/3) highlights health and jobs as key concerns. The inquiry into the Hazelwood fire should consider the social and economic aspects. The short-term effects are obvious: health dangers and the cost of trying to put out the fire. But the long-term effects are being pushed aside. What have been the long-term health effects of open-cut coalmining? Would there be more jobs in developing renewable energy rather than the low-tech ''dig it up and burn it'' approach? Who pays for the massive amounts of potable water sprayed on the fire? Who pays for the firefighters?
William Chandler, Surrey Hills

The Age, 8 March, 2014.

Sitting on our hands

I've been watching Nemo with my grandkids; holding them during the scary ''drop-off'' from the reef scenes where sharks circle, and promising to take them to our reef to see a real ''drop-off'' when they are older.
Promises, promises. It's not the scary sharks that will keep the grandkids away, but the inevitable crumbling of the reef itself due to the acidification and warming of the ocean because of our higher carbon dioxide levels. Dr Hoegh-Guldberg's finding that by the time my grandkids are old enough to go there, the reef will be shrinking to a tenth of its current size is unimaginable (''Damage to Great Barrier Reef 'irreversible' within 16 years'', 6/3). Such an icon that drives so many aspects of Australian life and psyche. And with Nemo and his friends gone, where will the sharks be?
And to think I've been worried about the dumping of dredge spoil from the Abbot Point expansion, which we can readily prevent. This demise is on a quite different scale and the timing of it is so close. And what are we doing to avert this? Removing a price on carbon and arguing that we can't afford to replace coal-fired power stations with renewables.
Carolyn Ingvarson, Canterbury

The Age, 26 February, 2014.

Sickening move

Hazelwood is making local residents sick as toxic fumes billow over nearby houses and towns (''Feeling less well in Morwell'', 25/2). Old and outdated, Hazelwood should have closed years ago. Coal mines emit toxic fumes at the best of times, with Yallourn Valley residents at far greater risk of heart, asthma and respiratory problems than people who live elsewhere.
But instead of taking tough action to minimise the energy coming from dirty sources, the government appoints climate sceptic Dick Warburton to head a review of the renewable energy target whose sole purpose is to weaken or close down clean energy, coal's successful, and clean, competitors.
Lynne Holroyd, Hawthorn

The Age, 19 February, 2014.

Show us your credentials

We have a Prime Minister who avoids the scientific truth on climate issues by, among other things, not appointing a Science Minister. Is Dick Warburton also a science denier? It is curious that he can claim to be unconvinced about the human cause of climate change and thus put himself above the 97 per cent consensus of global climate and oceanographic scientists.
Where do his credentials arise that allow him to make such claims as a public figure? I am not aware that he has published a series of peer reviewed papers outlining his findings.
The review of the renewable energy target is a farce. Under the direction of this closet denier, we are destined to turn the clock back 10 years on the meagre progress we have made.
Robert Brown, Mount Waverley

The Age, 18 February, 2014.







The Age, 7 February, 2014.

This man must never be Labor leader

Liberal MP Sharman Stone is a far more appealing possible leader than the ambitious union boss and and political wannabe, Paul Howes. She called Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey on their calculated lies about the modest working conditions of SPC Ardmona workers - lies that were designed to damage unions and divert attention from their role in creating looming and massive job losses.
By contrast, Howes appears to have seized the opportunity to stab the cannery workers in the back, deliver payback to Bill Shorten over the toppling of Julia Gillard, and position himself as big business' best friend and a possible ALP leader.
We need politicians with the guts and integrity to speak the truth on all issues, especially climate change. We will not get that from the likes of Paul Howes; we just might get it from the likes of Sharman Stone.
Lynne Holroyd, East Hawthorn

 The Age, 26 January, 2014.

Promise-breaking PM

Tony Abbott could be shaping up to be the greatest of all promise-breakers, outstripping Julia Gillard by a country mile.
The Coalition under Tony, the Titan Oath-Breaker, went to the last election promising to retain the renewable energy target but recently has been attacking it in public, falsely attributing electricity price rises largely to renewable energy. And now it seems that the diehard climate deniers in the Coalition and the fossil fuel puppets in the party are urging him to scrap it altogether and getting a good hearing.
Tony Abbott also promised to cut emissions by 5 per cent on 2000 levels and to up our emissions targets if other countries moved to significantly cut theirs. Despicably, he has backed away from these clear global commitments, refusing to endorse what was a bipartisan policy taken to the last two elections. Mr Abbott should also bear in mind that recently 30,000 Victorians gathered in Melbourne to demand greater climate action, not less.
Lynne Holroyd, East Hawthorn

Our future is cooked

We are rightly alarmed when children are locked in a sealed car in the sun (''Get tough vow on kids in cars'', 19/1). The danger is the greenhouse effect, where the high-energy infra-red radiation from the sun enters through the glass as though it weren't there, but the lower energy re-radiated infra-red is trapped by the glass as though it were a brick wall.
But aren't we also the kids in the car? The largest consensus of scientists in human history says a resounding yes. They say that's exactly what we've done to our planet by adding an extra layer of carbon dioxide (which has the same effect as glass) to the atmosphere. And the only reason we're not cooked yet is that instead of taking minutes it takes years to heat up a car the size of earth. So far the ocean has kindly acted like an Esky and absorbed 98 per cent of the extra heat for us. But it's rapidly reaching a tipping point, and be assured that if we don't change, not only our goose but also our water supplies, crops, food chains, grandchildren, and 50 per cent of other species will also be cooked. But we're not powerless children locked in by others; we can save ourselves, and our children's planet.
Michael Staindl, Hawthorn

15 January, 2014.

We can't hear you

How dismal it is that the few small-l Liberals left in the federal Liberal Party now only dare speak up on gay rights or even the plight of asylum seekers but never on climate change.
It is a measure of how extreme the party has become that none dare speak in support of their own official policy, taken to two elections, which accepted climate science. Recent reports now claim that in cabinet, only Greg Hunt and Ian Macfarlane support the Renewable Energy Target - a highly effective policy originated by the Coalition last time they were in power.
Speak up Malcolm Turnbull, I can't hear you - or has political ambition destroyed your integrity, your mojo and your credibility? And where are all those who voted for you for leader? The silent but large minority now too gutless to stand up for that which they know is right, necessary and critically urgent.
Lynne Holroyd, East Hawthorn

Please declare war

I would be more than happy for Mr Abbott to put the country on a war footing - one that declares war on the risk of climate change. It does, however, seem odd to have to press a conservative government to adopt a lower-risk policy. Isn't that what being conservative is supposed to be about?
Robert Brown, Mount Waverley



 Progress Press , 14 January 2014.


 

 Australian Financial Review , 13 January 2014.

 



 The Age , 2 January 2014.

  We need to act now on climate change
























Given his ignorance on climate science and electricity economics, Maurice Newman (''Heat is on Abbott adviser for his warming denial'',The Age, 1/1), has no place on committees advising government.
Rising sea levels, melting arctic ice, rising global temperatures and increasingly frequent severe weather demonstrate that the climate is already changing. A drastic reduction in emissions is required to contain warming to a tolerable level. This requires the pricing of emission-intensive activities such as coal-fired electricity and the encouragement of clean energy through a renewable energy target (RET), plus other measures.
The average electricity price of around 30¢ per kilowatt hour is largely driven by transmission and distribution charges, accounting for 50 per cent. The RET and carbon price account for less than 10 per cent.
The competitive pressures on Australian industry have more to do with the high dollar and low labour costs in Asian countries. To assert that power prices are a major factor shows Newman is ignorant or being deliberately deceptive. Tony Abbott should get rid of him.
Michael Hassett, Blackburn



 2013

The Age , 29 December 2013.











Sanity prevails


It appears that time's up for Victoria's ludicrous and draconian anti-wind farm laws, which are based on nothing more than manufactured hysteria. Thankfully, VCAT has stared down the nonsense, having recently approved a wind farm near Seymour. The local council had denied the wind company a permit against the advice of its planning officers, a decision the company appealed against.
But this tedious process deprives Victorians of the new industry and jobs it so desperately needs, with an estimated cost of $4 billion in investment and 3000 new jobs lost. It's time to say goodbye to these ridiculous laws, which serve fossil fuel interests and cost Victorians dearly - or say an emphatic goodbye to the Coalition government that introduced them.
Lynne Holroyd, East Hawthorn

Dangerous game

The renewable energy target is the last policy standing that ensures any reduction in Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, but Tony Abbott is reportedly preparing to slash it. The target provides certainty to a nascent renewable energy industry that has been buffeted from pillar to post by government policy and it should be increased, not reduced. It may add to the cost of electricity but not when the real cost of burning fossil fuels is factored in. When will Mr Abbott get the message from scientists that climate change is real and dangerous and threatens our way of life?
Lynn  Frankes, Kew

 The Age , 10 December 2013.

Triumph of fossil fuel

The headlines get worse. Yesterdays were: ''Road congestion nightmare'', ''Radioactive leak from burst tank casts doubt over future of NT uranium mine'', and ''Reality bites as climate change adds fuel to bushfires'' (9/12).
But state and federal Coalition governments recklessly swagger on: planning tunnels and roads instead of rail, boasting about cutting ''green tape'', abolishing a price on carbon, and axing, or about to axe, such independent bodies as the Climate Commission and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
What a triumph: congestion, radioactive contamination, and more frequent and ferocious bushfires. All at our expense and to the benefit of coal, uranium and oil interests.
Lynne Holroyd, East Hawthorn

Wellbeing in peril

While Tony Abbott pursues his populist politics (''Tony Abbott again uses social media to plead with opposition to pass carbon tax repeal'', theage.com.au, 9/12) and appease the dying coal-based power generation industry, the rest of the world moves forward. International oil producers are acknowledging they must pay for carbon emissions (''Oil giants brace for much higher carbon emissions price'', theage.com.au, 6/12).
Mr Abbott's propping-up of a dying industry will cost us dearly in the long term due to reduced competitiveness, and analysts say that in the short term we could waste $2 billion pushing ahead with ''direct action''.
So why does Mr Abbott keep ignoring the resounding advice from all quarters? While in opposition he kept repeating the mantra that the Gillard government was the worst ever, yet the decisions coming from his government are threatening our health and safety and economic wellbeing.
Robert Brown, Mount Waverley

 

The Age , 1 December 2013.

'Kodak' economy

The claim by Peter Fagg (Letters, 24/11) that Australia alone cannot make any meaningful contribution to global emission reductions is a common excuse for non-action. How can Australia, with annual per person emissions of about 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide say to China 7 tonnes) or India (1.6 tonnes), ''We won't act until you do''?
The large emitting nations of China and the US are already taking far more ambitious action than Australia. A transformation of energy generation away from fossil fuels is imperative, to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences. Countries that bury their heads in the sand will be the ''Kodak'' economies of the 21st century.
Michael Hassett, Blackburn

   

The Age , 23 November 2013.

BHP writes script …

BHP's chief executive Andrew Mackenzie cynically echoes Mr Abbott's dangerous views (''BHP helping to form carbon policy'', 22/11). He says there is no point taking action on climate emissions without global action. Mr Mackenzie must know the Coalition did not send its climate minister to the negotiations in Poland. Worse, Mr Abbott has sabotaged global efforts by reneging on Australia's previous bipartisan international commitment to lift carbon targets in line with increased effort from other countries.
When Mr Mackenzie boasts his company is working closely with the Coalition on its direct action policy, this comes as no surprise to anyone who has read former Liberal insider Guy Pearse's book High & Dry. It reveals that mining companies and other fossil fuel interests virtually wrote Australia's ''delay and deny'' climate policies during the Howard government era. No ratification of the Kyoto treaty then. No global or genuine domestic action now.
Lynne Holroyd, East Hawthorn

 The Age,  19 November 2013.

... in political vacuum

Will the crowds that filled Treasury Gardens on Sunday and attended more than 100 similar national ones demonstrating outrage at the lack of political will to tackle climate change make any difference? There has even been a paucity of media coverage. Constituents are demonstrating the moral concerns for the planet that politicians seem to lack. Even the Pope sees himself with a new role as an "environmental crusader" ("Pope knocks fracking", 16/11). Instead of making a positive contribution to the climate change debate, Mr Abbott makes a gift of two patrol boats to Sri Lanka to help "stop the boats, saying cynically "there are few more important humanitarian issues". Not for Mr Abbott himself no doubt. Even a "conscience vote" on issues such as voluntary euthanasia in Tasmania's Parliament was decided on party political terms when the Coalition voted in a block.
Beverley McIntyre, Camberwell

 

The Age, 17 November, 2013.

Ignoring its duty

As the desperate super-typhoon Haiyan survivors struggle without houses, power, water and food, Tony Abbott's ''see no climate evil'' government presses on to repeal the clean energy laws - our first serious attempt to tackle climate change. You can bet there will be no government debate about the link between a hotter world and more extreme weather events, a link scientists have been pointing out for decades.
Australia is one of the countries most prone to extreme weather events like bushfire, floods, cyclone and drought. The Black Saturday bushfires, the long drought that preceded it, the Queensland floods, last year's Tasmanian fires and this year's early NSW fires spring to mind. Yet this wilfully short-sighted, anti-science, populist government is determined to focus on electricity prices rather than on fulfilling its primary duty to keep its people safe.
Lynne Holroyd, East Hawthorn

The Age, 11  November 2013

One of the strongest typhoons on record surely cannot be caused by climate change. Maybe Greg Hunt could clear that up for us with a check on Wikipedia. After all, there will be no one left at CSIRO to ask.
Robert Brown, Mount Waverley

The Age, 9  November 2013













Whose interests is the government serving?


So the Environment Minister won't ("Minister to skip summit", 8/11). Perhaps Greg Hunt is too embarrassed to front the international community with his direct action policy. According to Liberal Russell Broadbent, there will be no representation because the government has no intention of signing up to anything.
The Climate Change Authority's recent draft report recommends that Australia can and should reduce emissions much more than the woefully inadequate 5 per cent target. The NSW bushfires are a portent for what climate change may bring. Yet the Coalition is deaf to the warnings. Its response to expert advice is to shut down the agencies providing it.
The public is entitled to ask whose interests this government is serving in avoiding international responsibility and pursuing domestic policies doomed to fail.
Michael Hassett, Blackburn


The Age, 7  November 2013

Now that's zealotry

With Mr Howard telling us that the climate scientists have got it wrong and that those who believe them are religious zealots, are we to take it that we should put our blind faith in his word and his instinct? So we set aside a global consensus of climate, atmospheric and oceanographic scientists and follow the Institute of Public Affairs-inspired Howard/Abbott view instead. Sounds alarmingly like religious zealotry to me.
Robert Brown, Mount Waverley

The Age, 30 October 2013




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Age, 28 October 2013

Causing confusion and damage

There is an alternative way of viewing the issue of climate deniers' letters to that of Rob Dalton (Letters, 25/10). Free speech is one thing, and I will support it unreservedly, but there has been a remarkable amount of damage done by the misinformation of deniers in adding confusion to the mind of the average person. In many cases, these deniers are directly and indirectly funded by vested interests who gain by polarising the views within the community. Surely there is a point where an extremely complex, long-term issue is entitled to be supported broadly by the community's mouthpieces (the media) in the long-term interest of the community, its health and its children's chances of survival. There is no big money supporting the shutdown of lethal coal-fired power stations or a vast roll-out of clean renewable energy. The little people with sound scientific understanding need to be heard loud and clear.
Robert Brown, Mount Waverley

The Age, 26 October 2013

Secretly fearful?

Whenever there is a response as strong and out of sync with the facts as that of the Prime Minister and his loyal men to the link between the fires and climate change, one smells "methinks he doth protest too much". Were the government confident it was doing everything it could to reduce emissions, and thus pull back on the kind of climate change that is fuelling these fires, then it would embrace the link. ''We understand and that is why we are taking our action,'' they would say.
So what is it they fear? Do they secretly believe they may be exposed as doing too little?
Carolyn Ingvarson, Canterbury


The Age, 25 October 2013


Unfitting way to speak 

Tony Abbott’s comment that Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, was ‘‘ talking through her hat’ ’ not only shows great disrespect for a highly regarded UN official , but is disturbingly reminiscent of his ‘‘ climate change is crap’ ’ remark. Ms Figueres makes her comment in a non-political way and from an 18-year global perspective of climate negotiations, where Mr Abbott is defending an entrenched political view. The sort of language he uses might be expected at his backyard barbecue or in his inner circle of climate denying cohorts but in the public arena, as Australia’s representative , it is unacceptable. Indeed Mr Abbott could do well to take a leaf from Ms Figueres’ book on leadership to enhance his own credentials in this area. He has no choice in my view but to apologise publicly for such a remark. 

Robert Brown, Mount Waverley


The Age, 25 October 2013

Our right to safety

Tony Abbott is blazing full steam ahead to wipe out the carbon tax. Yet this past week has been another horrific reminder of our warming world. Does he see no connection between the rise in carbon emissions and the risk of extreme weather?
Mr Abbott's job is to create policies with a safety first philosophy. Logically, one would need to consult the consensus of experts on climate safety. Currently, there is no evidence base for the Coalition's plan to cut emissions by even 5 per cent by 2020, let alone the higher percentage that we need.
We need the government to stop mucking about with polluting policies, listen to the experts and get on with keeping us safe. Need we resort to begging?
Bronwyn Wauchope, Burnley

The Age, 17 October 2013 (with Tandberg cartoon)

Carbon tax

Repent, keep the faith, believe. God help us to see through this halo of religious jargon to the light the Renaissance has offered us - science-based thinking.

Carolyn Ingvarson, Canterbury

Progress Leader, 10 October 2013

CO also odourless

If  Alan Barron does not class carbon dioxide as a "pollutant' because it is "colourless and odourless" (Conversations, October 1) why does he think there are warnings on plastice bags? What about carbon monoxide which is also colourless and odourless?

Beverley McIntyre, Camberwell

 

Progress Leader, 10 October 2013

Fearful climate word

What is really driving this extraordinary determination of the new government to undo any work focused on addressing climate change?

Should we instead be talking about support for renewable energy because of the problem of peak oil and rising prices, the impact of pollution on health, and our fragile environment?

Would that halt this frantic rush to remove any support for what has been working so far? Would keeping it be seen to confirm that there is a problem? It's not just the carbon tax, it is anything with climate in its name.

But science is clear and climate change will not go away because you don't like the sound of it.

Carolyn Ingvarson, Canterbury

 

The Age, 30 September 2013

Reversal of misfortune

Since Tony Abbott seems to think that stopping information flow to the public is the equal of making a problem go away (boat arrivals, Climate Commission), we can assume that information flow in the other direction will be stopped also. So no amount of letters to The Age, ministers or the PM will be read on subjects that Mr Abbott does not want to deal with. Maybe Mr Abbott is safer keeping his head in the sand as it seems most of the greenhouse warming heat is going into the oceans. The experts have told us that the longer we delay effective action the worse the problem. So Mr Abbott appears to provide us with a new form of reverse mortgage. Future generations can pay for the damage we are causing.
Robert Brown, Mount Waverley
Progress Leader, 24 September 2013

Senate nonsense 

Whatever the "coherent vision" Carolyn Ingvarson is looking for (Conversations, Progress Leader, September 10), things can only get worse.
After the disastrous  recent election, the Senate seems destined to comprise many single-issue parties who seem to have even less vision.
For example;
A party for motorists when vehicles on the road are responsible for an inordinate amount of emissions and when governments already favour freeways over public transport;
A Liberal Democrat who seems to favour relaxation of gun laws, no doubt inflouences by the US, where the number of gun deaths approximate or exceeds the number of deaths by terrorism; 
A couple of pro-coal PUPs (one of whom, by name must have risen from the dead).
Is this supposed to be representative democracy? I do not feel represented. Perhaps if the flat earth brigade can find 500 adherents (or whatever is the magic number), will that be next?
Beverley McIntyre, Camberwell 

The Age, 24 September 2013
Silence the boats, the climate, women, public servants  and the NBN. Tony Abbott has also silenced his own media presence, and Murdoch papers have silenced themselves.
Julia Thornton, Surrey Hills 

The Age, 23 September 2013

Sick of point scoring

Tony Abbott’s view of being in opposition was merely to oppose everything not personally initiated . This puerile point-scoring was reminiscent of school debating instead of prioritising the key issues facing us, such as the fastgrowing degradation of the planet, which surely should be the subject of bipartisan considerations. After all, this affects us all and will for many generations to come.

But heaven forbid that the new opposition will emulate this approach and ‘‘ apply the Abbott model’’ . The country has had enough of those in power aiming to personally attain more power.

Beverley McIntyre, Camberwell

The Age, 13 September 2013

Don't give in to sell-out

Bill Shorten's right-wing colleagues have done him no favour with their proposed spineless sellout on the carbon tax. An Anthony Albanese-Tanya Plibersek ticket for the ALP leadership now looks like a winner, a drawcard to bring in new ALP members. Australians want action on climate change and the ALP vote rose steadily after the carbon tax was introduced, only to fall later for other reasons. Exit polls show it was of little consequence for most voters at the election. Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard learnt the hard way what a sellout on this issue means.

Lynne Holroyd, East Hawthorn

Progress Leader, 10  September 2013

 




















Progress Leader, 3 September 2013





Progress Leader, 19 August 2013

Policies lack credibility

At the packed Kooyong/Chisholm forum on climate change last week, three class candidates spoke with strength and some passion about the need to tackle this vital issue.
The Greens recognised what's required; Labor had at least some structural foundation on which to build; but the Liberal Party struggled to find anything convincing to match its rhetoric of concern. In response to the question ''Are you happy that the Liberals are doing what is required to address climate change?'' Josh Frydenberg said they were doing what is realistic.
And there's the rub - the science is clear and terrifying, but only the minor party can see how to build an economy/society independent of fossil fuels. Labor is hanging in there, but the Liberal Party seems so out of touch with the level of response needed. Good candidates like Frydenberg must stand up to weak policies if they want to remain credible - even in safe electorates.
Carolyn Ingvarson, Canterbury



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