Attila the Pun
Sunday, December 12, 2004
The Lowe down

Ian Lowe, newly crowned president of the Australian Conservation Foundation, is keeping things nice and subdued, and is avoiding falling into hyperbole:

The evidence is clear. If civilisation is to survive, the next century will have to be a time of transformation, not just in technological capacity but also in our approach to the natural world, and to each other...

First, we must recognise the injustice done by our forebears to the indigenous people of Australia. Their land was acquired by robbery with violence, their lifestyles and cultures systematically destroyed, and their living conditions today shame us as a civilised nation. We cannot restore what we have taken, but we must acknowledge our debt.

Quite what that has to do with the environment, or the survival of civilisation, is beyond me.

Fifty years ago, Australia was one of the world's most equal societies. The legal framework of the basic wage set a minimum standard, while the highest salaries were only five to 10 times that minimum.

Here we go - the old "gap between rich and poor" 3 card trick. High profile executives are earning squillions more than lower paid workers, therefore our society is now worse off than before. What this ignore, deliberately, is that lower paid workers are now paid demonstrably more than their forebears, and have a far superior standard of living. Question - would you rather be a factory worker in 2004 or 1954?

Most people used public transport to get around, while the health system made provision on the basis of need.

Thats because they couldn't afford cars! High tariffs and poor productivity meant that lower paid people living in this supposed golden time struggled to buys things we consider almost necessities nowadays.

Today, however, we are one of the most unequal of all the industrialised nations. Many households have great difficulty affording the basic needs of food, power and clothing.

Got any proof of that Professor? I don't deny that poverty exists, but it is a gross exaggeration to suggest that 'many' households have 'great' difficulty paying for utilities. Some certainly do, and it is the sucess of our 'unequal' society that pays for welfare to assist them.

He finally gets around to the environment:

Perhaps the most serious environmental problem is global warming. The Earth has warmed about 0.6 degrees in the past hundred years. Changes associated with the warming include the shrinking of glaciers, the thinning of polar ice, rising sea levels, changing rainfall patterns and more frequent extreme events such as droughts and severe storms.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the most optimistic view is that the temperature this century will increase by a further 1.4 degrees. That assumes we will rapidly phase out fossil fuels and hopes scientific uncertainties will work in our favour. More realistic assumptions about fuel use lead to estimated temperature increases between two and 4.5 degrees, while the extreme inaction advocated by some could cause increases as large as six degrees.

And they are all based on wild speculation, dodgy science, and plain old bullshit. It ties in rather nicely with a new book (highlighted by a much saner Professor) by Micheal Crichton - State of Fear:

Basically, it's about a young lawyer working for an environmental philantropist. Things get rough when the lawyer discovers that his client had discovered some unscrupulous things about the nature of one of his beloved environment charities. Once our hero discovers that the charity is a front for the eco-terrorism group ELF, his life is in jeopardy.

Apparently he goes on a bit too much with his "message", but having read some of his speeches, it could be fun to see the global warming sacred cow knocked around a bit by a talented writer, rather than endorsed by an ideologically blinded Professor.

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