Yesterday Pat Lightfoot, one of the readers of my Armidale Express column, asked why I had not written on climate change. I have, of course, but not in the Express. Coincidentally, Marcellous asked a question on an earlier post of mine, End of Historic Toorale Station, on my method of calculating the real costs of the acquisition of Toorale.
I need to think a bit about M's comment/question because he has raised a technical issue that I need to think through. Pat's comment led me to go back through past posts linked in some way to climate change.
We all write from our our own perspectives. I often write from a country Australia and/or New England perspective. I am especially concerned at the way in which some of the proposed responses associated with climate change ignore regional impacts. To that degree I can be accused of being parochial. But then, most of us are in one way or another. I also try to write from a public policy perspective. What are the policy options, what do they mean, how might they work?
In checking past posts, I only looked at this blog since the majority of posts on climate change are here. As is so often the case, the posts are all in a sense work in progress. I am seeking to understand. I think that the position I have now reached in my own thinking can be summarised in this way:
- On the balance I accept the majority scientific position that human induced climate change is a problem that need to be dealt with now. To wait until the science is proved right is a high risk strategy.
- To the degree that there are identifiable changes such as changes in sea levels, then we need to consider our responses to them. This holds regardless of the causes of those changes: we need to respond to the what, rather than the why. I say this because my study of history and pre-history shows that, regardless of current current climate change arguments, there have been considerable natural variations that have actually occurred quite quickly. Nature is not static.
- I have been concerned for some time that group think in the scientific community and beyond has, to some extent, crowded out alternative views and that this has dangers. Scientific group think tends to be self-correcting over time because of the nature of scientific method. However, broader group think is less subject to correction.
- Linked to three, I have been concerned at the way climate change arguments have become linked to so many disconnected issues. These arguments take the form if a (climate change) then b (add in whatever you like), when a and b are in fact disconnected or at best loosely connected. The tendency to link specific current events like the recent drought in southern Australia to climate change does not help. All this actually acts to discredit the core case.
- Again linked to three, I have been concerned at what I see as the failure in discussion to adequately explore alternative policy responses to climate change. It may be that a market based response such as an emissions trading scheme is the best response (I suspect that either an ETS or carbon tax will be necessary), but I would feel much more comfortable if there had been more public discussion of alternatives. Among other things, this would give us a much better feel for practical implications of an ETS and for supporting measures that may be needed, as well as reducing the risk of simply dumb policy responses.
I am not sure I would go beyond this at this point in terms of conclusions, beyond adding that at a purely personal level I do not find much of the current discussion between believers and non-believers especially helpful in understanding how we might respond.
Selected Past Posts
- 17 October 2006 Water, Drought and the Environment - working from facts
- 28 December 2006 Science and Political Correctness
- 2 April 2007 Counterpoint and the Climate Change Zealots
- 3 April 2007 Climate Change Zealots Revisited
- 23 April 2007 Australia's Water Wars - Early Shots
- 14 May 2007 Climate Change Revisited - very briefly
- 6 November 2008 Australia's Murray-Darling Basin - historical climate perspective
- 11 November 2008 Agriculture, the environment and Australia's future
- 15 November 2008 Saturday Morning Musings - why environmentalists (and other enthusiasts) are sometimes bad for the planet
- 6 December 2008 Saturday Morning Musings - Toorale Station and the need for balance
- 22 April 2009 Back of envelope calculations - is the purchase of Toorale Station a waste of money?
- 13 September 2009 Sunday Essay - Farming, green house gases and the importance of practical experiments- Part One
- 20 September 2009 Sunday Essay - Farming, green house gases and the importance of practical experiments- Part Two
- 27 September 2009 Sunday essay - dust storms, environmental change and the romance of agriculture
- 26 November 2009 Australian responses to climate change - a background briefing
- 9 December 2009 Climate change and policies that work
- 10 December 2009, Getting rid of carbon 1 , Getting rid of carbon 2 - a note on renewable energy
- 11 December 2009 Getting rid of carbon 3 - the importance of numbers
- 12 December 2009 Getting rid of carbon 4 - carbon farming
- 14 December 2009 Getting rid of carbon 5 - problems with measurement
- 15 December 2009 Getting rid of carbon 6 - emissions trading, Getting rid of carbon 7 - musings
- 16 December 2009 Getting rid of carbon 8 - the series ends
- 18 December 2009 More environmental jottings
- 21 December 2009 Copenhagen wash-up - the need for clarity and focus
- 25 January 2010 The lessons from the current IPCC kerfuffles
- 4 February 2010 Family history, Indian students and climate change