Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Two words: China, India

Ross Gittins explains why nothing we do about reigning in emissions here in Australia will make the faintest carbon smudge of difference.


David McKay said...

But, if it is right to do something, do it, even if the consequences are seemingly inconsequential.

One Salient Oversight said...

Gittins says at the end:

If the world can achieve such a feat it will rival the Seven Wonders of the World combined. If we can't, the globe will have hit its limits to growth.

In other words, it IS possible, though difficult.

But Gittins also says that if we can't do it, then we'll "hit the limits of growth", which is a euphemism for "global catastrophe".

Anonymous said...

Mr McKay is right. And isnt that one of the points of the Gospel. We need to do what is right "Let your light so shine..."

Gordon Cheng said...

I wouldn't want to assume the rightness or the wrongness of policy regarding carbon emission, which policy is a far more complex beastie than Christians sometimes acknowledge.

Alls I'm saying is that whichever policy we were to decide was right will make no difference whatsoever. However the rightness or wrongness of the policy will need to be decided on other grounds.

byron smith said...

Couldn't we make an identical argument regarding voting in a national or state election? My vote will make "no difference whatsoever" to the outcome, so my decision about who to vote for ought to be made on other grounds than whom I would like to have representing me.

Gordon Cheng said...

Actually we live in Bennelong so I think we did get to make a difference this time! Usually fifi and I cancel each other out, but I'm reasonably confident we voted the same way this time (these things being confidential and all).

I'm not sure how you work out which way to vote when you're in a blue ribbon seat. I mean you should still do it because it's the right thing to do, and I guess you ought to do it on grounds that you believe are morally right. I did write a little essay about early elections one time, thinking that might actually have a bit more impact than just the vote I was casting.

But voting doesn't cost a lot, apart from hauling a tonne or so of metal to the local public school and back again, thus pumping out a few extra carbons. Whatever changes we are looking at on the climate change front are going to cost a bit more than that.

It may be ethically right, in those circumstances, for Australians to recognize that the best place to put our effort is into R & D on alternative energy, and marketing the results to China and India. Among other things. And not worry too much about the miniscule amount of carbon we pump out in the meantime.

Gordon Cheng said...

I did write a little essay about early elections one time

on the actual ballot slip, I mean. I heard some fellow on the wireless saying it wouldn't render the vote informal, although he couldn't encourage people to do it because it was illegal to encourage people to deface a ballot slip.

byron smith said...

According to the IPCC, the cost in 2030 to stabilise global emissions in the merely dangerous range (445-535 ppm of CO2 equivalent, leading to a rise of 2-2.8 degrees C) would be less than 0.12 percentage points of annual world GDP.

If China and India are to join in mitigation efforts (which they have indicated at least some willingness to do), then it is difficult to see why they should bother if we don't. It's a question of who will take the lead.

As for our contribution being small, that may be true given the size our population (nonetheless, we're still over 1% of the total), but per capita we are the most carbon intensive mob in the world.