Nailing My Colours

Browns Creek
We have a state election in Queensland on 31 January.

I’ve decided to support the Greens, even though I’ve been a conservative voter for the last 30 years, own a small business, and care about our economy.

I could give you a long manifesto about why I’ve come to this decision, but I’ll keep it simple:

For the last six years I’ve immersed myself in the environment of South East Queensland. My bicycle tyre tracks are all over it. You can read more about that here. That experience has changed me. To misquote the old hymn,

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:

…. then I must do something about it. I can’t stand idly by and let property developers and miners consume it all.

I love where I live. I don’t want to see it destroyed in the name of profit.

The “conservative” me from a few decades ago would probably quip – “But what about the cost? Don’t you want lower taxes and less government intervention?”.

In short, the answer is “No”. I think from a tax perspective, we get an absolute bargain for the life we live. We have awesome hospitals, great public schools, and a great way of life. I’d be willing support higher taxes if that mean protecting this way of life. And to ask for “less government intervention” is naive. One of the responsibilities of government should be to protect what we have. Reducing the influence of government on corporations makes it easier for those corporations to gobble up our environmental heritage and convert it into profits.

So the bottom line for me: I love this place, and I want to protect it.

I have one request of the Greens: Get more involved with local politics. I understand your desire to elect members to the Senate. But much of the damage to our environment is done because of State and Local Government laws – not Federal laws. Voters might feel “tribal” about Federal issues, but they quickly drop their political affiliation when a state or local government decision affects bushland in their street, or a CSG site on their farm.

The most powerful politics is local – because that’s where we live.

I have become a AGW skeptic

Question mark by Marco Bellucci
“Question mark” by Marco Bellucci

 NOTE. In the seven years since I first published this post about global warming, I have since changed my mind.  I believe the decisions we make about our use of energy and fossil fuels affects our planet.  The levels of CO2 in our atmosphere affect global temperatures.  Rather than delete this post, I have decided to leave it here in the interests of transparency, and to admit that in 2009 I got it wrong.  Besides, the un-professional actions of a few academics does not change the science.
Neil. May 2016.

At first I wasn’t sure.

Were humans really heating the planet up through carbon emissions?

I thought perhaps the best thing was to play it safe.  Slap a tax on CO2 emissions, and hopefully the planet would be better off.

I have now decided I am a skeptic of Anthropogenic Global Warming.  I am not convinced that human activity is increasing the temperature of the planet.

Furthermore I am disgusted at the level of obfuscation and political spin that has crept into the “science” behind this issue as is evidenced by the Email Archives of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.  The scientific process must be an open, peer reviewed process where political spin has nothing to do with the process, where criticism is welcomed and openly debated, and where the data is made available in its entity without editing for all to see.  The email archives I allude to show that this has not been happening.

I passionately believe we must reduce pollution and other environmental damage.  We must preserve wilderness and bio-diversity.  We must put a check on unmitigated development and land clearing.  We must develop cleaner and greener ways of producing energy.

But, I don’t think that the government’s plan to impose a new tax on Carbon Dioxide will achieve any of this.

The skeptic in me thinks:
1. The government has borrowed and spent more than was prudent as part of a knee-jerk, poorly targeted stimulus package to try and stem the affects of the Global Financial Crisis.
2. The government needs more money.
3. The tax behind the Emissions Trading Scheme is money for jam – an easy way to raise money, by scaring people into believing that if we don’t pay more tax, the planet is doomed.
4. The government would happily participate in a misinformation campaign to secure future tax revenue.

I will be happy to be proven wrong.

Be a Skeptic, but "Do unto others"

Religious conservative, and Family First Senator Steve Fielding is skeptical about the effect of Carbon Emissions on Climate Change.

I disagree with Senator Fielding but I applaud his courage in asking questions that might make him look silly. It’s tempting to disparage Fielding’s questions, especially those of us with strong views on Climate Change and the reduction of Carbon Emissions, but asking “silly” questions is one part of the scientific process.

But, Senator Fielding, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Perhaps you should remember how important it is to question those things that some people take for granted. The next time someone challenges church opposition to Gay Marriage, a Bill of Rights, a Woman’s right to choose etc, remember that there are no sacred cows. All sincere questions deserve to be taken seriously.

When it comes to asking and answering skeptical questions, Mr Fielding must “Do unto others” if he wants his questions to get the consideration they deserve.