No CO2 Tax: The Voice of a Few.

Yesterday, around this fair land of Oz, various people grabbed their best set of dentures or cleanest singlet and set out against “The Man” – who just happens to be Australia’s first female prime minister. Egged on by hack science miscommunicators and a prime minister wannabe with nothing much going for him but for appealing to the lowest common denominator, these angry people headed to parliament houses around the country to say, “No to CO2 tax!”

I had the shock of my life when heading into work that morning, I passed a group from CSIRO under umbrellas, holding coffee mugs in one hand and signs in the other by the road side. “Surely”, I thought, “these people are smarter than that!”

It turned out to be a coincidence – some protest about internet connectivity or something (I failed to get the finer points as I drove by).

A few day’s ago, Mike of WtD had this to say about the CO2 tax protest;

I’ll drop by the Melbourne protests out of curiosity.

Seriously, my prediction for the day’s turnout?

A few hundred mostly elderly, white, lower-middle to middle class “protestors” who are also angry at a range of issues like “refuges” and “speed cameras” and “the Family Court”…

You know…

The usual intellectual fringe dwellers that flock to causes such as “climate change scepticism”

I see a veritable sea of sensible cardigans, leisure wear and socks worn with sandals.

Unfortunately (or possibly fortunately) I didn’t have a chance to see Adelaide’s version of the insanity, but I managed to catch Triple J’s Hack coverage of the fun in Canberra (first 10mins of this podcast). The sea of grey hair was ever present – 3000 people strong.

Reporter, John Barrington asked, “People here today are saying that they’re not convinced about science about humans contributing to climate change, are you convinced?”

To which Coreena, one of the few young protesters, replied, “No I’m not convinced. Yeah, I think they need to present the facts to us. Give a website or send out some pamphlets or, you know, maybe some third party opinions so that we can read the information ourselves…”

Some counter protesters were angrily drowned out. “…if you want to protest, go over there, this is the protest against the carbon tax. So if you’d like to do your own, go over on the street or somewhere please. Because, at the moment, the people over here are dedicated hard workers and all’s they care about is their families and making sure that they can bring in money to pay the bills.”

Ellen Sandell, the national director of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition commented on the protest, “…the average age was about 65. It wasn’t representative of the community. I think the 8000 people who showed up in Melbourne two weeks ago… which was people of all ages and all walks of life was much more representative of the community and I think the community does want a tax on pollution.

It does seem very reflective of the denial movement. It’s not as reflective of the general public as it would like to think. It uses ignorance of the information available, as Coreena demonstrates. Instead of a reasonable argument, it drowns out the evidence and hypocritically demands it’s room to say what it likes, while refusing as much from those how don’t agree.

And Mike seemed to be on the mark regarding the age.

No other generation profited so much as the babyboomers from the fossil fuel era, so it’s only reasonable that they’re the most vocal in denying that the they profited at the expense of future climate stability (of course they weren’t to know, obviously). The true tragedy however is that there is an obvious age difference on this issue and the most vocal are not those who will witness the worst of business-as-usual.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott speaking at the anti-carbon tax rally in Canberra, Wednesday, March 23, 2011. More than 3,000 people attended the rally to protest against the Government’s proposed carbon tax. (AAP: Alan Porritt) (picture and caption collected from ABC – click the photo for the reference)

A day on and the political talk has began.

Ellen Sandell also stated, “Some of the slogans were pretty offensive… it’s a bit irresponsible for people like Tony Abbott be to associating with those groups.”

Sure, no-one would argue the right to protest, but should a PM wanna-be support a protest, standing by a sign that reads, “JuLIAR… BOB BROWNS BITCH”, a protect with complete careless disregard of Godwin’s law?

It’s no secret that I have no respect for Abbott that goes back to his days as health minister under Howard, but you’re not likely to see me resort to such language – I’d argue that every time the man opens his mouth he discredits himself more than any slur that could be hurled at him.

Every time the political point has been, “it’ll ruin the economy!” and yet the policies have been implemented it’s failed to achieve such prophecies. As Dr Dessler states (in the interview mentioned in the previous post), “it’s kind of an amazing argument. They always make this argument before every environmental regulation. Before ozone depletion, that’s what they said. Before acid rain, that’s what they said. And you know, every time it turns out to be wrong and they never seem to lose their credibility on this argument.”

Lord Stern in A Blueprint for a safer Planet, constructs a compelling argument for expecting the worst case scenario of 2% of the global GDP over the next 40yrs to keep the probability of temperature increase of above 3oC relatively low. It seems a small price for insuring long term security. Properly addressing innovation and development could see new industries open up, reducing the cost further and stimulating job growth – but of course that would only occur where we ambitiously face the problems facing the coming century. That we have rallies to protect an energy source that is increasingly insecure cannot logically be explained except to protect certain industrial interests.

The older protesters have only known the good times and done very well from them. The younger, in my opinion, have bought into an old fear tactic that deserves no logical basis. They’re throwing their support in technology that is increasingly outdated. I just hope the the majority of Australians come to a simple conclusion; Tony Abbott is simply unfit to be Prime minister. No only are his view outdated and against Australia’s long term prosperity (Ellen also mentioned that in discussions with him, he accepted the science behind climate change, but his belief was that it wasn’t a big concern – would you trust the man to diagnose your illness?), by supporting such a rally, he supports the slogans being hurled around.

Something that Abbott made no apologies about, “When it comes to strong language, I think the Prime Minister has used some very strong language in the Parliament and there haven’t been any apologies for that strong language in the Parliament.”

Something which is arguably somewhat different to the anti-semitic behaviour noted by Ellan Sandell and the extremist and conspiracy theorist groups noted by Greg Combet and Nick Champion.

If people like Coreena would like a website on climate change, there are many run by actual working atmospheric scientists. If people are worried about their finances, they should first note that, “it’ll ruin the economy!” hysteria is about as prophetic as the biblical Armageddon and then read up on the subject – I’d suggest Nicholas Stern’s book above as another person who hasn’t got a strong economic background, I’ve so far found it easy to follow and very informative. If people want to entertain conspiracies and indulge in Godwin’s law – I’d suggest you look up Pete Ridley and start a club for the half-baked ideas.

The rallies did serve a purpose and I’d argue that it was contrary to the point intended. It wasn’t concerned about the science and it wasn’t concerned about security of long term prosperity. It was a collection of people voicing incoherent and assorted angers, urging to keep things just as they are. It was a protest for stagnation.


4 thoughts on “No CO2 Tax: The Voice of a Few.

  1. When you talk about the baby boomers in this crowd, your heart sinks. This is the generation that watched in silent, open-mouthed awe as the USA landed men to walk on the moon. That was the most spectacular moment. But there have been thousands of other scientific and technical advances in my baby boomer lifetime. I remember laughingly saying that the 1980s gave me 2 of the best things ever – baking paper and a fax machine beside my desk. Others would have other favourites from various decades.

    So how come the generation that has seen such fantastic benefits from science and technology suddenly loses its admiration for the wonders of science? Anyone over 60 should remember the marvel of Sputnik flashing its little presence overhead – and now they use GPS and watch television interviews and other satellite based facilities without a second thought.

    So what’s wrong with meteorological satellites? Or super computers, or laptops, or you-name-it.

    It seems that politics trumps science whenever it’s (in)convenient for some world views. I just wonder how many of those attending the rallies were wine growers who are ripping out the varieties they grow and planting others better able to cope with changed conditions or all those other people whose livelihoods depend on getting their response to climatic conditions right. Not too many I suspect.

    OK. That’s enough grumpy old moaning from me for now.


    1. lol – it’s fair enough to be irritated by your contemporaries who seem to forget that they’ve witnesses the birth of the information era and now fight against that information. The link I provided regarding boomer wealth is an interesting lecture and I suspect the boomer denial results from disbelief that they good times they were born into built up a tab for future generations to repay. It’s a fair enough stance – I’d be sorely temped to defend my actions if in retrospect they seemed to have led my children / grandchildren down an undesirable path. I don’t think I’d go as far as denial, more defence – but it’s easy to say that from my position.
      What I will say is Abbott has yet again exposed his character and I find it shameful that the Libs support such a fool. I’m not very politically minded, but it was irresponsible of him to encourage extremists and haters (that were only a subgroup of the protesters, I will admit) to win a few extra votes (he’d probably have had these people already on side – it would seem they are extremely to the right regardless).
      Taking Ridley for example, I’d also suggest that in some cases (more so in the US and Europe) of the baby boomers, there is a lingering hangover from the cold war fear. The One World Communistic Government is a laughable proposition, but some of these people actually take it seriously. I can only suggest that this lapse in critical analysis must go back to a dark distant fear propaganda.


  2. Mr Abbot is fudging with his “I believe that climate change is happening and humans contribute to it” the keyword there is contribute he doesnt say causes climate change , saying contributes allows him to then argue the degree that we contribute which he would think is not very much .

    If he had really read and understood the science that has been done so far he would know that this change this time is caused by rising CO2 , CO2 which has been shown to have been emitted by us .

    So he has his tent firmly planted in the climate is always changing camp of deniers .

    Just think two more seats in parliment and he would of been in charge .


    1. I remember listening to a debate between him and Julia back when he was the health minister and concluding that he a fairly low character.
      Who knows how what to expect of Australians in the next election – Abbott would make a terrible leader and would remain forever a black mark on the country and Julia hardly demonstrates a backbone in the public eye (much like Rudd – although he could’ve talked up the good work that his government had done behind the scenes, he didn’t).

      I’ve been hearing that there’s been a little squabbling in parliament over Abbott’s appearance at that odd little protest and I can’t help but agree with the criticism. It isn’t very reflective of the general public, but rather a very skewed group of the extreme right, baby boomers as well as nutters – the conspiracy theorists and general haters. Appearing there wasn’t defending an outcry in the general public about unfair policies, but telling such people that he sides with them and their beliefs. He can’t take it back with statements that he didn’t agree with some of the slogans and I’m sure if they really didn’t want “JuLIAR is BOB BROWNS BITCH” in his background, it could’ve been removed – counter protesters were quickly dealt with. No, he made that revolting bed.


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