THERE is a publication in Australia where for every one story you read which agrees society should take firm steps to combat climate change, there are four stories suggesting we shouldn’t.
When climate change is viewed through the pages of this publication, most of the world’s “experts” think it’s either not happening, not worth worrying about or not caused by humans.
Advocates for strong action on climate change are variously described as “prophets of doom”, “greenhouse hysterics” or “hair-shirted greenhouse penitents”.
WE’RE all used to a bit of product placement in today’s movie industry.
The latest mobile phone is pinned to the ear of an international spy. A popular brand of beer is gulped by an anti-hero. The latest sports car roars through a street chase.
This embedded marketing is as much a part of a trip to the cinema these days as overpriced sugary drinks and stale popcorn (also overpriced).
But a new feel-good movie from Australia, set in a small mining outpost, has eyebrows raised due to its substantial in-kind and financial support from the same said mining industry.
Red Dog, starring American Josh Lucas, is set in the 1970s in tiny Dampier in Western Australia’s remote Pilbara region. The film is based on real life exploits of a stray dog which roamed the area, hitch-hiking between settlements and bringing people together as it traveled.
The characters, who work for Hamersley Iron (an actual company and wholly-owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto), are roguish and likeable. The cinematography sweeping across the red Pilbara landscape is momentous. Already the largest grossing Aussie-made film for 2011, Red Dog managed to take more than Hollywood blockbuster Cowboys & Aliens (Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig) in its opening weeks. Now a UK and US release are in the offing.
The film itself is well and truly focused on the exploits of the dog and is based on Louis de Bernières's depiction of the legend in his short novel Red Dog.
So who gave what to the film?
A GIANT mine planned in Queensland, Australia, is facing a court challenge over the impacts that burning its coal will have on rising sea-levels, global temperatures and ocean acidification.
The Swiss-owned mining company Xstrata wants to extract about 30 million tonnes of coal a year for the next 30 years from the mine next to the small township of Wandoan.
According to figures from Xstrata, once all emissions are counted for the life of the mine - including the burning of the coal - some 1.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases will be released into the atmosphere.
The mine would be the state’s largest and one of the biggest in the southern hemisphere in a country which is already the world’s leading coal exporter. The mining lease covers 32,000 hectares (123 sq miles).
IN AUSTRALIA, landholders are responding to the country’s rush to exploit massive reserves of unconventional coal seam gas with a simple but defiant gesture.
They’re locking their gates.
But in Queensland, many fear their concerns have come too late. In the last 12 months, federal and state governments have approved three major projects in the state worth AU$66 billion (US$ 67 billion). As many as 35,000 wells will be drilled across the state, according to Government estimates.
But questions remain over the impacts of drilling and fracking on the viability of farm lands and vital underground water supplies, with a current Federal Senate inquiry now attempting to find answers.
THERE’S a new climate denial lobby group on the block - bravely regurgitating previously debunked pseudo-science and making wild unsubstantiated claims that climate scientists are all corrupt.
Not happy with misrepresenting the science on climate change, The Galileo Movement has also misappropriated the name of the father of modern science who was persecuted for his insistance that the Sun, rather than the Earth, was the centre of the universe.
The Galileo Movement, launched in Australia, has stated its prime mission is to stop the Government’s current efforts to introduce a price on greenhouse gas emissions and boasts a list of advisors resembling a who’s who of international climate change denial.
TEMPERATURE data from more than 5,000 weather stations used to compile a key global record of surface temperatures has been released to the public.
The raw data, sent from weather agencies across the world to the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in England, was released after an order from the UK’s Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham.
CRU scientists were at the centre of the so-called “climategate” affair when hundreds of emails and some data were hacked and released on the internet.
The release follows a successful freedom-of-information challenge from academics Professor Jonathan Jones, a physics professor at the University of Oxford, and Dr Don Keiller, a biochemist at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. Professor Jones has decribed himself as a “climate agnostic”.
TO followers of the climate change policy debate, the extreme conspiratorial rhetoric is all too familiar:
Climate change is a hoax. Environmentalists are just communists in disguise. The United Nations is using efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions as a smokescreen for installing a world government. Greenies are actually reds. Eco fascists want your freedom.
Such rhetoric is daily bread for many neo-conservative commentators, some climate change deniers and even the occasional elected representative. The language is divisive, often becomes abusive and – regrettably – has become a feature of the manufactured debate over the risk posed by human-caused climate change.
The manifesto of Norwegian terrorist and Christian fundamentalist Anders Behring Breivik, currently facing trial for the massacre of 76 people, shows what can happen when the unhinged take the language of the far-right to its ultimate ends.
In the 1500-word document, published online under his Anglicised name Andrew Berwick before the brutal bombing and shootings in Norway, Breivik reveals a hatred for Islam and socialism.
But the manifesto also echoes the beliefs of many climate change deniers and cites the work of Lord Christopher Monckton, Alex Jones and Steve McIntyre.
New Zealand-based academic and climate sceptic Dr Chris de Freitas has been caught using material from US lobby groups in lectures to first year university Geography students.
Students who listened to the “Geography 101” lectures on climate from Dr de Freitas, an associate professor at The University of Auckland’s School of Environment, admitted to being “quite convinced” that a scientific debate was still raging over the causes of global warming.
A report in the New Zealand Herald highlighted how Dr de Freitas had ignored key texts, ignored recent extreme weather events and argued that climate change was almost entirely down to natural variations.
In the lecture notes, published by author Gareth Renowden on his Hot Topic blog, one student wrote in the margins that “CO2 has a lot of beneficial effects… don’t believe the propaganda”.
SO Australia’s carbon price cards are finally on the table.
From July next year, the Federal Government will look to price greenhouse gas emissions at $23 per tonne rising 2.5 per cent each year.
Then, in 2015, this is replaced by a cap-and-trade system with the price set by the market.
That’s the simple explanation. The devil is in the detail, of which there is an awful lot.
To make the plan politically acceptable, a complex array of exemptions, sweeteners, compensation measures and adjustments to the tax system have been negotiated.