Ian Verrender points out that we’ve prided ourselves over the last few decades on our improved community standards regarding minimising and recycling household waste, removing and treating our effluents, and banning (and punishing) the disposal of pollutants/toxins into our rivers and harbours. But over the last few years, the idea of treating the atmosphere with the same level of care as we (now) treat our neighborhoods and our waterways has become an ideological football.
I find the scientific conclusions regarding how industrial and carbon-fuelled transport emissions contribute to climate change compelling. But even if I didn’t, why wouldn’t I be working for a less toxic atmosphere anyway? Sydney (and other Australian cities, of course) has an immense smog problem, we know that smog causes many acute health problems, and atmospheric pollution is suspected of contributing to many chronic health problems – environmentalists and public health specialists have been advocating emission controls for these reasons for decades, and most people could see that it made sense. Why does it suddenly stop making sense just because some Culture Warriors have decided to make climatology contrarianism their latest staging ground?
If you truly believe that the amount of crap we’ve pumped into the atmosphere during the past 200 years has had no impact on the environment, good luck getting the sand out of your ears when you finally extract your head.
Will a carbon price save the planet? Who knows? It will certainly help clean up the atmosphere. And it definitely is more efficient than subsidies and direct involvement from government, for it allows business leaders to choose the way they would reduce emissions. A price – whether through a carbon tax or a trading scheme – minimises the heavy hand of government.
And there we have the ultimate irony. Both sides of Australian politics are committed to reducing carbon emissions. But in an odd twist, Labor is pushing for a market-based solution while the Coalition advocates government intervention. It’s a funny old world.
Read more: SMH