Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Cairns Post and Bolt

And so, after a couple of Letters from the Wingnuts, I feel a desire to comment on one other lamentable opinion expressed in the Thursday edition of the Cairns Post. This was, however, not a letter - it was a column. For some reason the Cairns Post likes to detract even further from its otherwise mediocre pages by paying for Andrew Bolt's sometimes misleading columns.

Bolt's Thursday column regaled us with tales of one of his favourite tactics - to query people about what the temperature impact of Australia reducing its emissions will be. The answer is, of course, very little. Despite being one of the highest emitters per person, our total emissions are fairly small due to our small population. It is entirely accurate to say that if Australia is the only nation to cut its emissions, even if we cut them to zero, the world is still set for an apocalyptic future. Similarly, if the rest of the world was to cut its emissions to zero, we could increase our emissions markedly without causing any trouble. Bolt uses this to encourage inaction by saying that as we can only make a tiny difference, we shouldn't try unless everyone else goes first. It's the fall back tactic of the denier - to push for business as usual without explicitly denying anthropogenic climate change.

Australia has already enjoyed the benefit of dumping a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere. We are richer because we have emitted far more than, in a perfectly fair world, we would have emitted. As such, Australia and other nations with a higher historical and present per person CO2 output have a responsibility to try to break political inertia that stops a global response to climate change - even if it has some short term cost.

The only good thing that can be said about Bolt's piece is that for once he didn't make any straight out denials of anthropogenic climate change, though he came pretty close. I'm sure it won't last, and he'll be back to claiming the world is cooling soon enough.

Some resources of note:

 Addendum: The highlight of Bolt's piece was:
Mathematician Lord Monckton says it's less still - just 0.00005 of a degree. Essentially zero. If there are better figures, not one government adviser will release them.
Mathematician Lord Monckton? Bolt is referring to the former journalist and advisor to Margaret Thatcher turned UK Independence Party politician, and permanently batshit insane, Lord Christopher Monckton, Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. Monckton is not a mathematician, instead studying Classics and Journalism. Monckton did once invent a mathematics based puzzle called the Eternity Puzzle which sold rather well for a while, but that does not make him a mathematician. I guess "Politician Lord Monckton says it's less still" doesn't sound as good.

Who is Christopher Monckton? He's the potty peer who calls himself a member of the House of Lords despite the House asking him stop. He's one of the nutjobs promoting claims that Barrack Obama is ineligible to be the President of the USA and was actually born in Kenya. He's a snakeoil merchant who claims to have invented a potential cure for Graves' disease (which Monckton continues to have), herpes simplex 6, multiple sclerosis, influenza and, well, two thirds of the world's diseases. Note that this has only been a partial list of Monckton's bizarre exploits. He's just a professional contrarian and crackpot.

It should be noted, however, that there is some speculation that Monckton is in fact a character played by comedian Sascha Baron Cohen:

1 comment :

  1. There is an interesting discussion on this at John Quiggin's blog. Quiggin is an economist who could perhaps be described as more left than centre but some interesting points here ....