The Age Environmentalism Fact Checked

4 01 2008

Another day and another dispatch from the planet Age. This one is called In a land of excess and waste, opportunity abounds“. Once again it proves just one thing: in the land of The Age common-sense, reason and facts are dead, having been replaced by miserablist environmental ideology.

The opinion piece goes along the tired lines of Australia being the world’s highest emitter of greenhouse gasses. We eat to much, we live too much, we consume too much and so on. Compared to the statistical planetary average that lies somewhere between the wild Amazonian tribes and Donald Trump, we are very wasteful and it’s ought to stop now. Sweden and California (of course) have the answers…

Some highlights:

For instance, we throw out 20% of the food we buy, so ending this pointless waste would save the energy and water used in its production. For debt-laden Australian households, this is really financial common sense.

Does the author really believe that Australians buy food to deliberately throw out 20%? What stupid people – they buy food just to throw it out. They must be mad! Or the real reasons more likely are: a) food goes off b) a lot of food waste comes from commercial food outlets that are required to get rid of food after its use by date. Why doesn’t that occur to the zealots at The Age? Should we allow restaurants to sell food past the use by date and meat that stinks? Perhaps The Age “Good Food Guide” should be changed into the “Off Food Guide” to save the planet. That would be something!

When oil, the lifeblood of industrial economies, has undergone a 500% price increase in less than a decade, that spells the end of business as usual.

Aren’t we being told that if only we put price on carbon and make petrol more expensive we are going to be living in the zero-carbon economy sooner than you can say “renewable”? Here we’ve had a 500% increase in oil prices and I still see no hydrogen cars zipping around down town Latte-Central. But it gets even better:

Scrapping incandescent bulbs could cut energy emissions per person by almost 4%. Similarly, boiling only as much water as needed, rather than a full kettle every time, could yield a 1% cut.

How do you propose we make sure everybody does that? Are we going to have the Kettle Police to check how much water we boil? Perhaps we could get neighbours to snitch on each other? Like the Stalin’s purge era informants or the Kettle Stazi.

A failure of political leadership has left Australia with much work to do and encouraged the view that this will all have negative economic impacts. The early innovators overseas provide evidence to the contrary. California, a state that boasts the world’s sixth-largest economy, has already set targets of a 25% cut in emissions by 2020 and 80% by 2050. Sweden imposed the world’s first carbon tax, a startling $US100 a tonne, in 1991, amid forecasts of dire consequences (energy-intensive industries won a concessionary $US25 rate)

Hmmm… As covered earlier, despite making all the right politically-correct noises, California has actually increased its greenhouse output by at least 13% between 1990 and 2004. It is quite startling that the folks at The Age don’t understand that setting the target is not the same as achieving it. And how is setting the emissions target a proof of no “negative economic impacts”?

Staying with the economic impacts, only a deluded Ageist could think that slapping a carbon tax of $US100 per tonne would have no negative economic consequences? The average Aussie produces around 27 tonnes of CO2 per year which would translate in $US2700 extra tax liability. A whopping $US10,800 for a family of four! No big deal for the loaded champagne socialists at The Age, but many working families would no doubt disagree.

In Sweden… the emergence of cutting-edge clean technology is underpinning growth of more than 5% and unemployment of about 4%.

Actually, the official unemployment in Sweden currently stands at 5,2%. Some also argue that Swedish practice of sending unemployed to free education courses and long-term sick leave thus removing them from the official unemployment statistics, makes the real unemployment rate about 15%. Sweden’s GDP growth in Q3 2007 was 2,5% on Q3 2006. In fact it achieved the average GDP growth of only 2,7%, nowhere near 5%, since 1995.

These are the latest figures from Statistics Sweden. It is right there on their home page. Curiously the author didn’t do even the most basic of fact checking choosing to instead inflate Swedish economic growth by 100% and to reduce Swedish official unemployment figure by some 34% at a stroke of a pen. But The Age doesn’t lets facts get in the way of a good story choosing to instead drum up their latest pet cause with little creative accounting. Didn’t they also advocate jail times for executives that cook the books?

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3 responses

4 01 2008
agitatedhellerphant

As always a well written article with some very pressing points that are all true. This just prooves that once again, the media will do anything to make a story sound better.

Paying a tax for C02 emissions is not going to make me stop living the life that I do, all it will do is make me bitch about the fact I have to pay for it, doesn’t mean i’m going to stop turning my lights on or running a fridge all day

This is not the answer to this mythical beast they call GLOBAL WARMING

4 01 2008
judithgr

This sounds defeatist to me. It takes a cultural and social will to accomplish these things. I am from the USA, so I know about waste. I thought about it there, too, but it wasn’t until I moved to a country where every unit of energy had to be purchased that I really got it.
We will change or die. Forget about California and Sweden, just get on with it.
One doesn’t buy food intending to waste it, but one neglects to do something to it before it is ruined. Even restaurants can work at using up precious foods before they become unusable. One can turn the lights off in one room before entering another. One can turn off the stand-by feature on electronics. One can avoid extra car trips by being organized when making them.
More than anything, one can stop thinking like an energy pig and start thinking about finite resources and that every waste makes energy that much less available to the poor and desperate.
Where I live, if my electric consumption exceeds the service I paid for (I paid €400 to install 4.6 kw service, as 3.3 is normal but does not allow the fridge, oven, stereo, washing machine and computer to all work at once) it is blocked at the box. Period. I have to reset it and everything that was on it and turn something off so it won’t go above the service set point. Gas for my car costs almost US$8 per gallon. An oil change costs well over US$100 with no other services included.
Change or die.

5 01 2008
mrbigman

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