22 June 2012

An open letter to Cassandra Wilkinson

Dear Cassandra,

I am a big fan of your strait talking style and independent rationality, so it astounds me that you seem to have fallen for the anthropogenic global warming doctrine, to the extent that you defended the carbon tax in a recent Sky News debate.

You argue that even though the AGW doctrine might turn out to be nonsense, the tax is a good idea, because it will encourage people to use less energy and develop new energy sources (e.g. windmills or solar panels or other non-emitting technologies) that they can then market to the world. If that makes economic sense, I have another good idea that should be right up your alley. Let's have a wheel tax that will encourage people to travell less and develop new means of wheel-less transport (e.g. canals or hovercrafts or other non wheeled technology) which they can then market to the world. 

But maybe we should consider a few of the problems with such schemes:-

1. They depend on obsolete technology (e.g. windmills or canals), new but much more expensive technology (e.g. solar or hovercraft), or on not yet invented technology (e.g. carbon capture or beam me up Scotty technology). If such alternatives were better than CO2 emitting and wheeled technologies, they would be up and running by now, and if they ever do become economically sensible they will soon be running in the freest economies, from where they will spread to the rest of the world, just like the emitting technologies did. But in the meantime taxing existing technologies to subsidise less efficient and more expensive technologies can only shackle our economy to anchors it has to drag.  

2. Such schemes depend on the rest of the world shackling their economies to the same anchors. If other countries decide they want to gain what we have (e.g. China and India) or to increase their economic advantages (e.g. the US) they will not so shackle their economies, so our new technologies will have no market, and we will have lost our competitive advantage.   

3. The government's Orwellian named "clean energy future" depends on a world-wide CO2 emission detection, policing and trading scheme, to be administered by some UN type agency ! This plan, by the way, doesn't have us reducing our emissions; it has us buying carbon-credits from other countries, who are expected to reduce their emissions to reduce their own carbon footprint and then reduce them further to clock up the carbon credits to sell to us so we can keep emitting !! These countries will be doing this, mind you, without the incentive of our $23+++ carbon tax !!! While we continue to increase our earnings from our largest export - coal !!!! Where the hell will that go? Remember - practically every ounce of carbon extracted from the ground ends up as CO2 in the atmosphere !!!!! 

4. But let's assume, for a moment, that for the first time in history a government plan (in this case an inter-government plan) actually succeeded in achieving its objective (in this case a low emitting world, powered by windmills solar panels and yet to be discovered technology) - so that the coal and oil that raised the world's population from one to 7 billion and doubled life expectancy and offered most of us opportunities that pre-emitting generations never dreamt of, stayed in the ground. Can you begin to calculate the economic cost of such a success? In human livelihoods, lifestyles, and lives? And if this "clean energy future" does by some science fiction means keep the 6 billion people who wouldn't be here if it weren't for CO2 emitting energy alive, how much surplus energy would it produce to be used to adjust to detrimental climate change or capitalise on beneficial climate change - be it man or nature made? 

Climate has always changed. The 20th century changes were nothing unusual. The alleged consensus has failed to accurately predict changes two decades out. On the basis of its projections two centuries out, do you really want to consign the commanding heights of the world's economies to the tender care of Green senators, beholden PMs, UN energy Tsars, international carbon credit traders, third world emissions inspectors, Green lobby groups, Al Gore, Michael Mann, Tim Flannery et al?  If so, what is this destruction of the CO2 emitting world for?  If not, what is the carbon tax for? These are not rhetorical questions, I would really like to know.