Although The Age is a left leaning paper, I was a regular reader up until a few years ago.
I am not sure what changed, but it seemed to me that The Age was no longer content with giving people the news and then saying ‘This is what we think about it.’
Instead ‘what we think about it’ was presented as the news. Alternative opinions, even on the letters page, were not welcomed or considered.
So I stopped buying it. As did other people. Circulation declined notably more rapidly than other metropolitan dailies.
But in the last week, two columns have appeared which offer opinions different from The Age’s customary editorial line.
The first was Paul Sheehan’s article on the SBS crockumentary Go Back to Where You Came From.
In this column Sheehan points out that the SBS uses its customary cut and paste tricks to mislead viewers – see Immigration Nation for several spectacular examples – and notes that real empathy for refugees would lead to policies quite different from those of our present government.
The second was an article by Professor Bob Carter on the fallacies and dangers of climate change alarmism.
Here are some of the facts Bob thinks Australians should be aware of:
Fact 1. A mild warming of about 0.5 degrees Celsius (well within previous natural temperature variations) occurred between 1979 and 1998, and has been followed by slight global cooling over the past 10 years. Ergo, dangerous global warming is not occurring.
Fact 2. Between 2001 and 2010 global average temperature decreased by 0.05 degrees, over the same time that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increased by 5 per cent. Ergo, carbon dioxide emissions are not driving dangerous warming.
Fact 3. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is beneficial. In increasing quantity it causes mild though diminishing warming (useful at a time of a quiet sun and likely near-future planetary cooling) and acts as a valuable plant fertiliser. Extra carbon dioxide helps to shrink the Sahara Desert, green the planet and feed the world. Ergo, carbon dioxide is neither a pollutant nor dangerous, but an environmental benefit.
Fact 4. Closing down the whole Australian industrial economy might result in the prevention of about 0.02 degrees of warming. Reducing emissions by 5 per cent by 2020 (the government’s target) will avert an even smaller warming of about 0.002 degrees. Ergo, cutting Australian emissions will make no measurable difference to global climate.
Fact 5. For an assumed tax rate of $25 a tonne of carbon dioxide, the costs passed down to an average family of four will exceed $2000 a year.
So the cost-benefit equation is this: ”Your family pays more than $2000 a year in extra tax in return for a possible cooling of the globe by two one-thousandths of a degree.” Remember, too, that Garnaut’s recommendation is that the tax rate should be increased at 4 per cent a year, which would result in a cost doubling in less than 20 years.
I think the $2000 estimate of costs to the avergae family is too low, and does not take sufficiently into account the flow on from increased energy and transportation prices.
Nonetheless, I suspect that this will be the first time Age readers have been exposed to opnions/facts from an actual scientist questioning the media consensus.
There is a poll at the end of that article which asks readers ‘Do you think tackling climate change should be a priority for Australia?’
At the time of writing the results were: 74% No, 26% Yes.
When that sort of result appears in a poll in The Age, then maybe the tide of public opinion and commonsense is finally pulling the Titanic of the Australian print media back on course.