Politics and activism

More on emissions

Bob Geldof on Live Earth: “I hope they’re a success. But why is Gore actually organizing them? To make us aware of the greenhouse effect? Everybody’s known about that problem for years.”

But some don’t. I keep hearing about people who routinely use their clothes dryers for everything. Or people who leave lots of lights on around the house when they’ve settled into the lounge room to watch TV for the evening. Or buy huge TVs that burn lots of power. Or buy fleets of 4WDs to drive around town. Or leave the heating on in empty rooms. Or, like one of my neighbours, drive the 5 minute walk to the supermarket (OK, maybe he’s getting more than he can carry).

And offsets aren’t everything, either. Greenfleet is already running out of land to plant trees, let alone if everybody did it. And such schemes don’t take into account future loss of carbon through things such as bushfire.

It’s like the three Rs, the first of which often gets forgotten: Reduce, Re-use, Recycle. Offsetting them helps, but it’s far from ideal. Reducing, thus not producing the emissions in the first place, is better.

A lot of people know what’s going on, and are doing what they can to reduce their carbon footprint. Some really don’t know, and don’t care.

And some just don’t believe. Maybe they watched The Great Global Warming Swindle and believed all of it; and switched off before Martin Durkin was queried on some of his claims.

But when people say they’re not going to do anything because they don’t believe carbon emissions make a difference, they’re ignoring that there is a myriad of other benefits from cutting pollution. Take my pet cause, public transport. Encouraging and enabling people to drive less is not just about cutting emissions. It also has benefits in, off the top of my head: clean air, road space, congestion, oil dependence/peak oil, transport costs, road toll, social isolation, equity/access to work and education, obesity, road rage, street crime. It’s not all about emissions.

And then there’s other people, who know about it, but think others should do all the hard yards.

Maybe it’s time for personal carbon trading! Apparently Caltex is proposing it, with the RACV objecting.

Yes? No? Well consider this (though I wonder if there’s evidence to back it up):

In recent years wealthy Texans have discovered the joys of sitting in front of a log fire. As it is usually hot in Texas they must turn their air conditioners up so they can enjoy the cosy warmth from their hearths.Clive Hamilton.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

22 replies on “More on emissions”

so the people who query man made global warming are just self-delusional suckers cos they dont drink the kool-aid ?

the documentary was pretty good. it neatly summarised the view that if global warming is occurring, then its unlikely to be caused by man.

i found it amazing that the ABC sought to white ant the program by bookending it – first with a cleverly edited ‘interview’ in typical ABC attack fashion, and then a panel of like thinkers for a ‘discussion’ at the end of the program.

clearly, opposing views are not to be tolerated.

because nothing ruins a theory like a fact.

the core claim of the program is that the sun has more impact on global warming than man.

this is irrefutable.

I think plenty of people know about it, and accept it, but they don’t care. That’s because they’ll be dead before things get really desperate (or they think they will be), and they have no consideration for future generations. I’m surrounded by them at work and in the neighbourhood. Not all, but a lot.

Couldn’t agree with you more Daniel! Perhaps we should change it to ‘reduce, reduce, reduce’.

My personal favourite is San Pellegrino water – very A-list but it seems, to me at least, an incredible waste of resources when we have perfectly good water here in Australia. (Indeed, the whole bottled water thing is an interesting phenomena – how I made it through life thus far without dieing of dehydration is truly amazing.)

As much as I consider the impact on the environment, I really just hate seeing stuff wasted or bought for no good purpose (4WD that never go off-road, McMansions where half the rooms remain closed off or where families need never come in contact with each other).

I certainly don’t want to change my ‘first world’ lifestyle but a little thought about the real impact of that lifestyle doesn’t go astray.

Irrefutable? C’mon… the claimed link between solar activity and warming is far from irrefutable:

“A comparison of the distorted and undistorted contemporary data reveal that the plot of solar activity bears no resemblance to the temperature curve, especially in the last 20 years.”

“We have concerns regarding the use of a graph featured in the documentary titled ‘Temp & Solar Activity 400 Years’. Firstly, we have reason to believe that parts of the graph were made up of fabricated data that were presented as genuine.”

On 5th July 2007, The Guardian reported that Professor Mike Lockwood, a physicist at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory had carried out a study that disproved one of the key planks of The Great Global Warming Swindle’s argument – namely that global warming directly correlates to solar activity. Lockwood’s study showed that solar activity had diminished subsequent to 1987, despite a steady rise in the temperature of the Earth’s surface. The study, to be published in a Royal Society journal, used temperature and solar data recorded from the last 100 years.

“All the graphs they showed stopped in about 1980, and I knew why, because things diverged after that…You can’t just ignore bits of data that you don’t like.”

There will always be sceptics, Daniel, and some sceptism is healthy; we shouldn’t just accept anything without question (no matter how widely accepted it is).

The real question I would ask the sceptics in this case is, even if you are right and human activity is having a minimal effect on global warming, does this give you a free pass to consume at whatever rate you like, use as many resources as you like, live life at the extraordinary level of comfort and yes, decadence, that you currently do? Do you have no issue with the gross inequities of resource distribution in the world? Are you unbothered by air and soil pollution? Unphased by the cold hard fact that fossil fuels are finite and will, at some point (and I’m not going there with WHEN), be exhausted? Is your attitude really so monstrously selfish and short-sighted that you can’t see beyond your own front door (or your own lifetime) to what others feel and experience, or will in the future? Is it nothing more than Apres Moi, Le Deluge?

Because, climate change sceptics, if you’d like to think you are a better human being than that, then it really doesn’t matter if climate change is primarily a human product or not, does it? The changes we are being asked to make will benefit present and future humanity in other, measurable, less contentious ways too. And you never know, you might even like it (stranger things have happened).

kathy you assume that people who dont accept the manmade global warming theory are 1: sceptics and 2: consume resources massively and 3: monstrously selfish and short-sighted.

this im afraid supports another of the tenets of the doco which is that the ‘global warming’ movement has taken on religious zealot form.

im sceptical of a lot of things.

I am going to try to say something vaguely coherent without using swear words.

Firstly though ITA with Kathy, these are my sentiments exactly…

And secondly, the problem is, the consequences of NOT doing something if the sceptics are infact wrong (and yeah you are by the way) are catastrophic, whereas there are no real negative consequences (IMO and please don’t cite the economy) to making the necessary changes to try to arrest global warming.

Anyway, after discussing this with my better half the other evening we could only come up with either selfish and/or stupid as possible reasons for those in denial. Sorry if I offend, but I truly can’t get my head around it…

And one more thing, let’s just say this had nothing to do with man and his effect, and was all about the sun etc, wouldn’t we still take any measures we could do arrest it? Wouldn’t we still be trying to lessen any possible warming contributed by man-made sources?

Warming swarming… it’s hard to comprehend we’re having ANY effect on this planet what-so-ever.

We mere humans are doing nothing more than digging the absolute crap out of every aspect of the environment, incinerating every possible resource available, and pumping every bit of the toxic waste into the atmosphere and soil…

The insanely complex ecosystem of this planet is so overrated, there’s a massive sponge in the sky somewhere that simply soaks all this crap up and squeezes it out in someone else’s backyard… relax ;)

Such a diverse mix of opinions you get written as comments Daniel! Anyhow, I’ll chime in with one simple fact: if we don’t do what we can now, our children will think why didn’t they do something? It’s up to us to try, at least. I love watching Dr. David Suzuki. He doesn’t mince words, and I’ll tend to believe him, thanks very much.

Ugh… with the exception of the 4WDs and the big TVs… that pretty much describes me. Not exactly something that I’m proud of, but I have my reasons. I do try though. Nothing gets watered and I have forced the manbeast to stop having 20 minute showers too. Hell, I rarely do the dishes so even that saves water.

> In recent years wealthy Texans have discovered
> the joys of sitting in front of a log fire. As
> it is usually hot in Texas they must turn their
> air conditioners up so they can enjoy the cosy
> warmth from their hearths. — Clive Hamilton.


I have lived here in Texas since 1981 and have not seen anything like this. Now I would not be a bit surprised to see such from a NON-NATIVE, but born Texans?

Or non-wealthy folks smart enough to move here? ;-)


Think what Jed Clampett would say to such oolishness.
That would be the gut Texan reaction too.

ahhh the ole ‘Or buy fleets of 4WDs to drive around town’ one gets rolled out again.

i own one of the monsters….actually i has better fuel economy than most medium and all large sedans, and it does go off road…living at the foot of the blue mountains, many a holiday i spent using it.

thinking about it, i would say that my ‘oooh scary evil, end of the world 4wd’ would have a much lower footprint than a person driving a barina all year and then flying once a year for a holiday….

so…should i keep my 4wd and your jibes. or join the bandwagon, get a small car and then fly to my holidays instead of staying semi locally and camping???

Waleed, it may be nothing more than a good story. Probably worth more investigation.

John, as I’m pretty sure I’ve said before, I’ve got no problem with people who own 4WDs or other big vehicles who actually need them. If you regularly go off-road with it, that’s great, and it makes sense for you to own it.

But if you look at the article I linked to, it cites Toyota research that says that 90% of 4WDs never go off-road. They’re the ones I (and many other people) have a problem with, particularly in the context of the extra subsidies they get from the government.

however the offroad use or otherwise of the 4WD vehicle is irrelevant in the carbon footprint debate, if the vehicle is more fuel efficient than a medium to large sedan, is it not better for the driver to use this car than another.

or shall i sell my 4WD and buy a something that uses more fuel and/or has worse emmision figures for the sake of not being societies wipping boy?

i totally agree that it is hard to justify some of the top end 4wds, surely the nuclear family (whatever that is) does not need a vehicle of that size, however if the person has a use for a medium to large sedan, a 4wd can be a good choice for storage use, if it is just as efficient.

a quick check of shows that my vehicle is 30% more ‘green’ than the medium-large sedans i mention.

Fair point John. But your 4WD may not be typical. A comparison on that site of Ford’s Territory vs Falcon shows all of the 6cyl Falcon variants to be more efficient than the 6cyl Territory.

fair enough, however that is my point. so say that a particular car is bad for the environment soley on wether or not it is driven from 2 or 4 wheels is just as logical as saying that we should stop people from driving red cars becuase everyone knows they go faster.

unfortunetly there is a particular vehicle that comes to mind when we say 4wd and that is of the soccer mum driving little timmy around in a monster truck….i hate those ones as well :)

a quick scan down the medium sized 4wd market shows cars that are comparable with their 2wd versions….and as these are now the leaders in the market for deisel based engines and with a new stream of hybrid versions coming online (toyota have a hybrid version of the highlander that should appear here within the year ) shows that they will continue to complete…..but yes….lets get rid of the balmain bulldozer….i think you guys call it the toorak tractor :)

Nice post.

I am firmly in favour of personal carbon trading and believe that the

traditional arguments just don’t stack-up.

In fact I recently blogged about this exact thing here:

In short: Personal carbon trading is an idea whose time has come. You can’t expect it to solve problems of inequity which already exist in the world – the rich will always be able to buy themselves a way out, and survive catastrophes better than the poor. That’s the nature of the capitalist society in which we live. But properly run, the scheme would protect the fuel poor, and allow low carbon consumers to make money from the rich.

In fact, the great thing about personal carbon trading is that government sets the outcome – a reduction in carbon – and the ‘price’ rises and falls depending on whether consumers change their behaviour. So the more people simply stick to their lifestyle and buy their way out, the price rises until people think it is better to reduce their carbon use.

Read more here:

I am also totally in favour of personal carbon trading, however the first step shold always be to reduce carbon emissions as much as possible. Recycle waste, rike a bike, swap your old incandescent light bulbs with new fluorescent ones.

Offsetting emissions can only work if you’ve reduced as much as possible prior to purchasing carbon credits, otherwise it’s a greenwash!

Several companies offer great solutions for this approach, for example the Carbon Reduction Institute or Carbon Planet

You know, it doesn’t matter how many times I ask this question, I never seem to get a straight answer. The question is very simple. “Please explain, using scientific evidence that is beyond any doubt, exactly how man made CO2 is causing the earth to heat up.”

If you think about it logically, it’s a pretty reasonable question. I’ve yet to hear a satisfactory answer.

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