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Biased Carbox Tax Coverage – another symptom of an impotent mass media

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The article printed in last week’s Frankston Leader came across as biased, unfounded fear-mongering. And the resultant comment stream shows just how deluded the general public is on the issue. In this piece I will confront the paper’s biased perspective and engage some reader’s arguments.

Hurley’s piece relies entirely upon testimony from one ‘concerned citizen’ and (surprise) an exposed industry spokesperson. After admitting that details about the proposed tax are vague, Hurley incites fear as he quotes MP Greg Hunt’s remarkably precise figures of a $300-a-year increase in electricity bills and a 6.5c a litre increase on fuel. Where do these figures come from when the details are so vague?

Concerned citizen Mr Davies tells us that the tax will have a ‘huge impact on the general cost of living.’ What does Mr Davies know about this tax that the government themselves does not? These baseless assumptions repeated unchallenged by Hurley smack of biased journalism. Where is the balance on this subject? Why are we presented with an article full of criticism for a federal Labor policy that is based on one citizen’s concerns, and not given one iota of opposition perspective?

For those complaining about your inexplicably rising electricity bills, this is the result of the Kennett government’s privatisation fetish and the resultant neglect of the transmission network. Electricity costs will only continue to rise as the private companies that run your utilities do what they do – grow profits. The only option is a move toward sustainable, renewable, decentralised energy sources. How do we do this? Tax brown coal power generation and use the proceeds to fund wind, solar and other proven technologies. Now this is not exactly what Gillard proposes to do, but that does not reduce the importance of at least beginning to ta the nation’s biggest emitters.

Jim Whaley writes that the “amount of carbon produced by Australia is quite neglicable [sic] in comparison to many other countries around the world…” This is exactly the defeatism and blame shifting that has left the entire globe in a state of inaction. Australia can and should become the world leader in sustainable civilisation. When rich countries like ours (which has one of the highest per-capita emissions in the world) excuse themselves from responsibility, what motivation is there for the Indias and Chinas of the world to clean up their act? We are already benefiting from a century of carbon-powered development – what right do we have to tell developing nations not to do the same while we do nothing?

Mr Hunt (an environment spokesperson lamenting action on climate change…) recalls a meeting he had with BlueScope Steel. Of course they are concerned about the affects of the carbon tax on their exposed industry. If we lose a few jobs in steel making, would it not suffice to replace them with future-proof employment opportunities in the renewable energy sector?

Mr Hunt says that he ‘would rather see incentives for companies to clean up power stations and coal mines, rather than have a tax on electricity’. The vagueness of this statement masks its inherent contradictions. The carbon tax is an incentive to clean up power stations. As with any industry, a company that takes on extra costs will pass those costs on to the end consumer. Thus, any incentive to clean up coal fired power stations will result in extra costs to the consumer. The only option then is to close the coal fired generators and find another option.

Australia, the sun-burnt country that we all love, does not have a solar panel industry! A carbon tax will signal to business investors that Australia is a mature and progressive country where their capital can take part in the upcoming green-tech boom. We can and should make the move toward 100% renewables in the shortest possible time frame. Here, from some of Australia’s most highly respected scientists, you can read about Australia’s potential to be 100% renewable by 2020. Doesn’t this merit some critical discussion in our nation’s media?

Kaz misrepresents the carbon issue as a pollution issue. Yes, there are many other pollutants that our society relies on the Earth to absorb and dispose of. No, this does not reduce the importance of dealing with carbon. (Carbon, rather than carbon dioxide, is colloquially used to refer to CO2e, the Carbon dioxide equivalent that allows all greenhouse gases to be meaningfully compared).

Kaz then goes on to explain that the human portion of carbon emission is but a small percentage of the natural earthly emissions. This is a common argument promoted by climate change skeptics, but it fails to recognise the important point that the earth’s natural carbon emissions are balanced by the earth’s natural carbon uptake – in the oceans and forests for example. The problem is that humans are creating more carbon emissions that the earth can handle, and at the same time destroying the earth’s capacity to absorb carbon – for example by clear felling vast swathes of forest. Then we get on to the positive feedback loops, whereby, for example, as the oceans warm they absorb less carbon, which warms the oceans, etc etc.

Don’t be taken in by the false perspectives of your profit-based media. Both sides of the story are not shown equally and will not be until you demand it yourself. To answer DJ’s perhaps rhetorical question, we have to put up with the government’s lies because we have a corporate media that simply takes what they say and relays it verbatim to the public.

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Written by Sean Bozkewycz

April 4, 2011 at 12:49

Posted in ideas, rants

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