Starts out OK but soon lapses into pseudo science
THE most frustrating aspect of public discourse in Australia is the dominance of the extremists, and nowhere is this more obvious than in the climate change debate.
Driven by factors that have little to do with attempting to deal with the actual questions, the most polarised proponents of each side of the debate have shouted down the moderates.
In such a landscape, each side considers the other in absolute terms – people are either hippie enviro-nazis who want us to go back to living in mud huts, or zealous money-crazed capitalists hell-bent on destroying the world.
Unsurprisingly, this approach is not bringing the two sides any closer.
The real problem with the extremists is that they are arguing from fear of consequences, not observable data – so if one person is opposed to a carbon tax, he or she generally argues that global warming isn’t real rather than attacking the tax on its merits (or lack thereof).
Similarly, people who want to address the problem of climate change adopt the stance that the only way forward is a carbon tax, rather than consider more moderate options (of which there are many).
Curiously, both sides can be shown to be incorrect, using uncontroversial and well-accepted science and economics.
We know that trees absorb carbon dioxide during photosynthesis, releasing oxygen into the air and storing the carbon, and we also know that, globally, we have cut down an enormous number of trees in the past 300 years.
Thus, we know we have reduced the planet’s ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere.