Australia: Climate of the changing mind

Kenneth Davidson I My Small Business

When Professor Ross Garnaut released his draft report on climate change in May, his approach justified optimism. Garnaut gave us hope that his recommendations would follow the science.

The following month, Minister for Climate Change Senator Penny Wong released the Government’s green paper, which made it clear the Government was not interested in science-based solutions to global warming.

Garnaut got the message, and dropped the baton. His supplementary draft report released on Friday implicitly endorses the assumption that there is a trade-off between the global economy and global warming.

There isn’t. It is impossible to have a healthy economy without a healthy environment.

According to Garnaut: “A per capita global objective of 450 parts per million carbon dioxide equivalent (ppm-e) or lower would suit Australian interests better than a 550 ppm goal.

But the review has reluctantly concluded that international agreement on a global goal of 450 ppm is not feasible, given that emissions are currently around 455 ppm and rising rapidly due to fast economic growth.”

Garnaut considers the 450 ppm objective “ambitious”. But climate scientists now see 450 ppm as consistent with two degrees or more global warming, and 550 ppm is seen as consistent with three degrees of warming or more compared with pre-industrial temperatures.

According to James Hansen from Goddard Institute for Space Studies – and eight other scientists in a peer-reviewed paper published in June 2008: “If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilisation developed and to which human life is adapted, paleoclimatic evidence on ongoing climate change suggests that CO2 will need to be reduced to at most 350 ppm.”

Read on here.


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