by Roger Hanney
Professor Ross Garnaut’s supplementary report on emission reduction trajectories and targets is even more exciting than it sounds, yet it seems to have been read by very few people who hold strong opinions about its apparent conclusions.
Some pundits ‘ the Akermans, Devines, Marohasys, Nelsons, etc.. ‘ seem pleased that Garnaut’s 2020 target of 10% is so small, and so beset by national conditions and global politics and economic aspirations, that it may even dwindle to 5% if Kyoto completely stalls. They claim that this proves that they – the deniers, ignorant noisemakers, and cloistered interests ‘ were right all along.
Climate change is a myth and acting to stop it is too expensive and yet, at the same time, somehow doing nothing promises much better value for money. Ta da! And now watch me pull a hat out of my rabbit. India, China, India, China ‘ never mind that America is 5 per cent of the world population producing 25 per cent of the carbon pollution.
If Garnaut thinks climate change is ‘diabolical’ then he should try writing for aspirational bigots while sipping on a $70 shiraz. Or maybe listen to the Business Council of Australia describe the apocalypse that government will unleash on all Australian if they act with any real conviction.
These magicians of the disappearing point have deluded us all to the point of doom, and they continue to carry on with the same bogus children’s game, even when the science is well and truly in, the Arctic has all but disappeared, and all doubt really has left the building, driven itself home, and overdosed on Xanax already.
Interestingly enough, even American comedian and TV compere David Letterman ‘ not one to generally rail in the name of environmental or political causes ‘ took significant time this week on the Tonight Show to talk with great conviction about the state of the world under global warming.
Letterman fused science with drama in a way that most people need before they can respond, making it clear that if all carbon pollution stopped tomorrow, the atmosphere would continue to turn against us for at least the next 60 years. Emphatically, he concluded that ‘we are the walking dead right now’we are dead meat.’
But Garnaut has stuck Australia with a pragmatic bordering on phlegmatic target of 10 per cent. It’s a seemingly small but practically significant goal.
When Kurt Vonnegut (R.I.P.) asked Susan Sonntag what she had learned from the Holocaust, she said that 10 per cent of any population is cruel, no matter what, and that 10 percent is merciful, no matter what, and that the remaining 80 per cent could be moved in either direction.
And this is where Garnaut now puts us, if only we can be moved. The real import of his paper is to recommend that Australia aim for 80 per cent cut in emissions by 2050.
For all the criticism he has received ‘ generally from skilled, intelligent, and ecologically active groups and individuals ‘ Ross Garnaut is in the right 10 per cent and, if it enables immediate real action rather than simply serving as fuel for more reviews, committees, and op eds, his 10 per cent might finally move Australia in the direction that was open for us more than a decade ago.