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5 Comments

  1. 1

    luokehao

    Sustained international pressure on Australia is something I have urged myself for a number of years – long before this first suggestion on social media!

    It is a matter of recognising – as I naïvely failed to do for a decade or more – that Australia is naturally ultraconservative and unwilling to pay the costs of adapting to climate change. Australia is naturally ultraconservative because of Australia’s extraordinarily flat and ancient topography, which sets none of the severe limits to housing space or agricultural efficiency found in every other OECD nation and the great majority of so-called “developing” nations.

    Consequently, Australia’s population, most of which lives in low-density suburbs, is unwilling to sacrifice its comfort and happiness. As S.T. Karnick points out, they would lose a great deal emotionally as well as economically from radical changes to phase out freeways for mass transit and coal power for 100 percent renewable energy. There is no way they would not vote for an East-West toll road and an end to government funding of public transport (not to mention large welfare cuts).

    Australia’s large comparative advantage in primary productions produces a natural scarcity of highly educated professionals to support policies to improve greenhouse emissions in Europe and North America, and precludes a substantial population of very poor service workers who would gain from improvements to mass transit. The flatness of Australia means that as our cities expand this cannot – quite unlike Los Angeles which 1990s PTUA documents compared with Melbourne – be limited by lack of suitable land.

    What will happen most likely is that current conservation reserves will be removed to make way for housing as Australian cities grow, which of itself will be disastrous for global biodiversity since Australia ranks as the fourth most biodiverse nation in the world.

    The need for the US, UK and China to put pressure on Australia above their own emissions is undoubted, and there is no doubt that seventeen years of sustained in-your-face pressure upon Australia would have made much more difference than the endeavours of Europe, East Asia and North America. Zhao Zhongxiu and Yan Yunfeng in ‘Consumption-based Carbon Emissions and International Carbon Leakage: An Analysis Based on the WIOD Database’ have indeed shown that Australia’s uniquely bad per capita greenhouse gas emissions are much worse still when “embodied” emissions from the consumption of other nations are considered– providing further evidence that severe, in-your-face campaigns for radical action against Australia are urgent.

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  2. 2

    Norman Hanscombe

    Luokehao, you may dream till the cows come home about, “Sustained international pressure on Australia”, but the reality is that there isn’t any meaningful International willingness at Government levels to do anything significant themselves, so them pressuring Australia is a pipe dream.
    What you “naïvely failed to do for a decade or more” was understand that Governments nowhere have been willing/able to take the sorts of actions you desire. It’s NOT about the science of effects, but about the science of whether what’s needed to slow Greenhouse emissions indicates it’s a practical hope.
    You need to try to understand what motivates people, and with most it’s not what motivates you.
    You might also examine the evidence from Economic Geography and Economic History. They’re not especially complex subjects, but the evidence they supply isn’t encouraging.
    In the meantime, you talking about such things as, “The need for the US, UK and China to put pressure on Australia above their own emissions” seems a tad odd?

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  3. 3

    luokehao

    Norman,

    I can udnerstadn your perspective, but the reality of what we are seeing politically suggests that there will be more willingness in Eurasia and the Americas to do much more than at present, but that as Australian emissions skyrocket it will make no difference.

    Consider firstly that, whilst Australia in September 2013 elected a traditional Catholic Prime Minister who was opposed to any demands even from science – who said he would fund roads and not public transport, and who said he would remove woefully inadequate regulations, opinion polls in the US shows that the Millennial Generation supports big welfare and is strongly opposed to the legitimacy of traditional religion. In Europe, Canada, New Zealand, Asia and Latin America the situation is certainly more extreme than the US though I lack data.

    What this suggests is that Australia is rapidly turning into the world’s largest polluter and that Abbott and Co. know the economic gains therefrom.

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  4. 4

    Scott

    Global Emissions reductions via treaties and the like will never hit critical mass. Too much of the developing world want what we have and rightly so. And the west will never sacrifice current economic growth for the possibility of results beyond the horizon.

    Adaption of a warmer world via technological advancement is the only realistic option for the future.

    Time to focus on that.

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  5. 5

    luokehao

    Scott,

    even if adaptation is the only solution, there is absolutely no question it must be Australia who pays. Given our naturally ancient and very low productivity lands allow for extremely low levels of pollution, yet we have the highest per capita emissions int he world and present-day policies – whereby Abbott moves completely away from emissions, reducing technology just as Eurasia and the Americas embrace such big time – will only make this worse.

    On another level, I do not think the so-called “developing countries” (most of them more accurately called the Tropical World) really wants what Australia has. Most of these humid tropical nations are natural-resource-poor like extratropical Eurasia and the Americas and thus would develop in a free market on manufacturing and the service sector – rather than as Australia has on high-efficiency farming and unlimited resources of previously unexploitable minerals like aluminum and titanium. Faced with the threat of global warming becoming more serious it is possible than the Tropical World would side with the so-called “West” of Europe, East Asia and North America (more accurately the Enriched World to make severe demands on Australia and other natural-resource-rich Indian Rim nations. I still do understand your extreme scepticism about this possibility, but that Australia, with the highest per capita emissions, should actually be allowed by far the lowest emissions has been known by ecologists for a good quarter century. The lack of knowledge and study of Australia abroad is a major problem, but if this could be corrected, our governments would see severe demands for remediation of our appallingly polluting energy and transport sectors in their face. Then, it would be fascinating to see how they and the ultraconservative suburban families who support their anti-environmental policies would react.

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