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Climate change centre named after King Canute? Might as well

Date

Letters to the Editor

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Tom Switzer's article (''The game is up - carboncrats have had their day'', Times2, January 14, p5) reminded me very much of the Monty Python sketch in which the pet shop owner refuses to accept that he should take any action despite compelling evidence that the Norwegian Blue is, in fact, an ex-parrot. (''Nah, nah, he's resting …'')

Switzer's article, true to type, is written by a proudly ignorant non-scientist and suggests that, if global warming doesn't conform to a simplistic linear pattern, it isn't happening at all.

(A scientifically literate person might have to recognise that the climate is a complex system and complex systems don't behave in linear ways.)

At the same time, Switzer ignores the enormous body of evidence supporting the reality of dangerous climate change.

The ''anti-carbon agenda'', he says, is ''being subjected to the most intense scrutiny, and found wanting.''

He doesn't say who is doing the scrutiny or for what ends - there is, of course, no ''pro-carbon agenda'' being pushed; just heroic ordinary folks who have finally seen through the ''anti-carbon zealots''.

A 2013 study by Robert Brulle under the auspices of Stanford University's Centre for the Advanced Study of Behavioural Sciences analyses the sources of funding for movements opposing action on climate change.

It finds that organisations promoting attacks on climate science have a combined yearly access to $US900 million ($100 million) from increasingly untraceable sources.

Exxon Mobil and the Koch brothers have been prominent funders over the last decades, often using private foundations as proxies.

I propose to apply for funding to set up the Centre for King Canute Studies to prove that the physical world will conform to whatever fantasy we choose to impose on it.

One of the uses for the funds collected by the carbon tax is to promote the development of alternative energy technologies - but why do that when it's unpopular and we can frack our way to a glorious future for nothing?

Michael Williams, Curtin

Tom Switzer, I'd say 100 per cent of ''greenies and carboncrats'' desperately wish you were right, that climate change isn't a real issue.

Nothing would make us happier than to admit the science to be flawed.

The problem is: what happens if you're wrong?

Name-calling and rampant negativity do no good except to show how little you care for the future, for your family, future generations, or the whole planet.

History will tell, and future generations will look to those of us with the leadership capabilities to make the difficult but necessary decisions to avert the worst of it, not those yelling threats and epithets, too afraid to take care of the future.

No matter what other countries are doing, we need to show the leadership.

Maybe others will follow our example and history will be grateful they did.

Bill Hall, Page

Tom Switzer's triumphalism is totally misguided.

European countries, for example Spain, have been so successful at producing energy from renewable sources that, according to the Asociacion Empresarial Eolica, the wholesale price of electricity fell in 2013 and wind power provided nearly 50 per cent per cent of consumption.

Further, Isofoton, the Korean giant specialising in solar energy panels, has now moved part of its Spanish manufacturing operations to the United States, where demand for renewable energy is finally gathering momentum.

While the rest of world is moving on and embracing the new technologies, here people like Switzer are still ''stuck on coal'' and denying reality.

I wonder why?

John Rodriguez, Florey

How reassuring to know we need not take any notice of science, but instead learn all we need to know from newspaper editors.

The media has always told us how we should vote; now we can plan for the future by ignoring science as well as common sense and just read The Spectator.

I look forward to more pronouncements telling us we can ignore medical science; forget the legal profession and make up whatever laws suit us; build houses of straw because what would the engineers know; and search for oil in the Brindabellas. Who needs a geologist when they have The Spectator?

Tony Eggleton, Aranda

Gone bananas

It is indicative of the mindset of politicians and businessmen that careful analysis by the scientific community on any topic can be disregarded when it is inconvenient.

In this instance, climate change is being disregarded, despite educated and responsible people having no doubt about its threat.

This situation is a measure of a deficiency in our education system from which widespread scientific ignorance is increasing.

Furthermore, this attitude is currently fostered in our government - a government that has no science minister.

But what does it matter in a banana state, governed by self-interested politicians, into which we seem rapidly to be evolving?

Jack Palmer, Watson

Houses too big

The federal government wants to make savings through efficiency dividends and the merger of departments ('' 'Mega department' merger under fire'', January 15, p2).

If it really wants to make immense savings, it could always follow its own recommendation by merging the Senate and the House of Representatives.

After all, the little amount of work they do is little more than duplication. The government could also decrease the number of electorates, resulting in fewer members, fewer expenses and fewer staff to mis-advise them all; this can only lead to huge savings. And an efficiency dividend could be introduced. The budget would soon be in the black.

Come on, Tony Abbott: lead the way and apply your saving methods to your own backyard.

Roger Smith, Scullin

Bus stop folly

I am trying to understand the thinking behind Action Buses' decision to change the bus stops at the town centre on Hibberson Street, Gungahlin.

One bus stop was demolished and the replacement structure built only 30 metres away to serve the same bus parking bay.

The bus stop on the opposite of the road was removed completely and replaced by three bench seats with no cover.

In full sun or adverse weather, these seats are less than useless.

How much did these changes cost and what are the benefits to Action Buses' patrons?

Tony Pelling, Nicholls

Forget the speculation, rich already get better healthcare

A veritable can of worms was opened by ''one of the submissions to become public [from the commission of audit], a proposal from a former adviser to [Prime Minister Tony] Abbott for a $6 co-payment fee for bulk-billed visits to the doctor'' (Editorial, January 14).

This editorial echoes lobbyists' claims that a consequential allowance of gap insurance for GP consultations would mean that ''those who can afford private cover receive a higher standard of care''.

Those who can afford it already receive a higher standard of care without insurance.

It is mere idle and largely irrelevant speculation that allowing gap insurance would result in ''a steadily reducing number of bulk-billing GPs''.

The greatest generator of ''two tiers of healthcare'' is double-dipping by medicos: those who take the government's money and then bill the patient as well.

The health industry is structured differently to education.

Public hospital emergency is not a viable alternative to private practice in the way public schools are to private schools.

Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor

Sharon cast in bad light

Ian Birrell judges Ariel Sharon harshly for Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, (''The death of Israeli ideals'', Times2, January 14, p4) but it is important to remember the context.

The south of Lebanon had in effect become a mini-state of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, at the time a heavily armed terrorist organisation bent on destroying Israel.

It had carried out many terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians from its base there.

In relation to the massacre at Sabra and Shatila, Sharon was only guilty of allowing the Christian militia that carried out the atrocity into the camps.

He did not know about the massacre until after it happened.

It says a lot about the coverage of the Middle East that Sharon's link to the massacre is repeatedly raised, but so little is known about the actual perpetrators.

Birrell bemoans the ''endless expansion of settlements'' but their boundaries haven't expanded since 2003.

He alleges ''dreadful cruelty towards Palestinians'', but Israel has only done what it has needed to do to prevent terrorist attacks.

Had the Palestinians responded positively to Israel's various peace initiatives, including Sharon's Gaza withdrawal, they could have had their state by now.

Bill Arnold, Chifley

Lesser of evils?

Irony is a stranger to Pat Power (Letters, January 13).

A bit of a vocal minority himself, Power is another partisan anti-monarchist who thinks it's OK to demand a tinpot republic instead of the current successful system simply because of its British origins, but to also defend Quentin Bryce as the left's choice as a Clayton's governor-general if they are temporarily forced to endure any governor-general at all.

According to Power, what every country needs is a populist president to second-guess every decision made by the democratically elected Parliament.

Like Barack Obama, for instance.

Christopher Smith, Braddon

Taking the lead

Robert Willson (Letters, January 13) gives us a puzzling story about the growing pains of the early Uniting Church, and how as a result of legal challenges ''the Christian cause was damaged''.

He finishes: ''It is difficult to lead people but … impossible to drive them'', causing us to reflect with a smile on two strong Christian leaders who do not fit the bill. The first is of course the founder of Christianity Himself, who publicly prayed for unity among His followers, ''that they may all be one''; and also memorably drove out the money-lenders who were desecrating the temple.

The second example, from 17th century history, relates to Willson's drawing a long bow in associating this legal wrangling to a future vote on an Australian republic.

England was weakened and divided by civil war until Oliver Cromwell took charge, abolished a corrupt monarchy and a corrupt lower house of parliament, and remade a strong and respected country he named a Commonwealth.

How appropriate that our founding fathers chose this title for our country in 1901 and, after the reign of a much-respected queen of Britain, should have expected us to wrestle with a no-nonsense Cromwellian model for the Australian Commonwealth.

C. Lendon, Cook

Pearls before swine

As a person for whom the prayer for disciples (aka the Lord's Prayer) is a central element in my life as a follower of Jesus, I have long regarded the the breathless gabbling of the prayer in Parliament as inappropriate, if not near blasphemous (''Scrap prayer move'', January 15, p2).

Its public use is a hangover of Christendom that needs tidying up forthwith.

I am disappointed though that the latest proposal to have the prayer withdrawn from Parliament has not come from church leaders, but from a Greens senator.

I wish him well in his endeavours, but it is church leaders who should be leading the charge to reclaim the prayer from public mauling so that it can reclaim its radical character in the reshaping of life of the church and its engagement with the world.

Jesus had some things to say about formal verbal religious diarrhoea separated from the doing of justice, as well as of not casting ''pearls before swine'', a recommendation for silence about matters of faith under certain circumstances, that might be considered relevant to this issue.

Doug Hynd, Stirling

''Scrap prayer move''? Amen to that.

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

Marine conservation should be applauded

It is depressingly familiar to find that eminent marine scientists have had to petition the NSW government to reverse its decision, made at the behest of the Shooters and Fishers Party, to reduce the protection of marine resources in NSW coastal waters (''Reinstate recreational fishing ban: scientists'', January 14, p5).

This is what conservative governments do when they get into power.

Witness the Nationals' relentless campaigns against preservation of native bushland, their opposition to the creation of national parks and the recent winding back of such protection in Queensland, Victoria and elsewhere.

What is surprising is the attitude of commercial and recreational fishers who fight to prevent marine national parks from being established and then lobby to reduce their effectiveness. Surely they can see that their future exploitation of the sea's resources can only be guaranteed if some areas are kept as nurseries?

Fishers should applaud attempts at marine conservation, including the protection of the top predator, sharks.

It can only befit their fishing opportunities.

Timothy Walsh, Garran

TO THE POINT

ENOUGH'S ENOUGH

If the science ''is in'' on the role carbon plays in climate change, why does The Canberra Times feel it necessary to allow such well-known sceptics as Tom Switzer the space to trumpet his unscientific nonsense (''The game is up - carboncrats have had their day'', Times2, January 14, p5)?

Roger Terry, Kingston

What a breath of fresh air to read Tom Switzer's article on virtually aligning the demise of ''the greatest moral challenge of our time'' with the big con of the millennium bug.

Brendan Ryan, O'Malley

DIVISIONS REMAIN

The mourning by the Israelis following the death of Ariel Sharon was treated as a day of celebration by the Palestinians (''Former warrior PM dies at 85'', January 13, p6). What that tells one is that, even if a two-state solution were to be found, there seems no likelihood of the two peoples ever living side by side in harmony. That would be a dreadful shame, in a region where the theme of hatred reigns supreme.

Sam Nona, Burradoo, NSW

THE GIFT OF GRASS

I would like to assure Roseanne Byrne (Letters, January 14) that Green Square will not have plastic grass. Canturf is donating the real thing - that you sit on, lie on, roll in, play ball on, etc. The square will be restored to its former loveliness very soon.

Gabrielle Radinger, spokeswoman for Kingston Traders

EVERY WHICH WAY

Surely ''you may now kiss the bride'' will need to be dropped from same-sex ceremonies, unless and until all present know who is ''you'' (i.e. the groom) and who is the bride. This is terribly unfortunate, it's such a quaint old custom. And why shouldn't the guests know which is which?

F. B. Orlzov, Flynn

SUMMER HAZE

If global warming brings about the end of winter sports in Australia, 12months of cricket and tennis, and no AFL, is going to be hard to take.

John Milne, Chapman

CUTS BOTH WAYS

The article ''University defends course'' (January 14, p4) reports criticism of the University of South Australia's decision to establish a course in men's health, on the basis that it creates a platform for anti-women views. This attitude is probably based on the experience that courses in ''women's studies'', established in some Australian universities, have created a platform for anti-men views.

Henry Lawrence, Belconnen

Email: letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au. Send from the message field, not as an attached file. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.

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