There has been a lot of talk in the mass media lately about the proposed carbon tax in Australia.
I believe that a lot of it has been said with a view to selling newspapers and getting viewers/listeners than to honestly informing the public.
- Does it concern you that climate scientists have been telling us for DECADES that we need to reduce the amount of carbon we put into the air and yet that amount is still rising!
- Has the recent unprecedented extreme flooding in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales & Tasmania made you stop and wonder what’s going on?
- Does it worry you that just last year Australia was into the tenth year of drought (and that Western Australia is still in it)?
- Does the severity of Cyclone Yasi make you quiver?
Since the start of the industrial revolution, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen from 280ppm to about 390ppm. Now that is almost a 40% increase! Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas – that is, it traps heat in the atmosphere. (This is an indisputable fact – the greenhouse effect was discovered by Joseph Fourier in 1824, first reliably experimented on by John Tyndall in 1858, and first reported quantitatively by Svante Arrhenius in 1896.)
If someone were to foul a nearby waterway with toxic pollution, you would expect them to clean it up, wouldn’t you. The fact of the matter is that some price on carbon pollution is warranted and carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have been identified as something we need to reduce in our atmosphere – initially to 350ppm but eventually to about 300ppm (or so the science dictates).
|Now you might be thinking “ppm”, what’s “ppm” – it stands for parts per million and, before you say “390ppm doesn’t sound like too much”, just think about this: In many states in Australia the legal limit for alcohol in your bloodstream while driving is 0.05% or 500ppm….and this is considered the highest concentration before considerable impairment occurs….and we’ve already pushed it to almost 40% above pre-industrial levels.
The trouble is, we don’t know what the highest concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere can be before we reach so-called “tipping points”. At these points, there is likely to be very little we can do to combat the new conditions that prevail. I for one would like to avoid reaching these points. Being IN the test-tube is scary! Risk management demands that we take the science VERY seriously – just ask any insurance company.
Ross Garnaut suggests a carbon price of $20-$30 a tonne. In wholesale prices, at the low end this equates to $0.026 per kilowatt hour, provided no profiteering occurs. For the average Australian household with a daily electricity consumption of 18 kWh, this works out to $0.47 a day with the same proviso. At the upper end, it equates to $0.039 per kilowatt hour – about $0.70 a day.
So, for the average Australian home, between 47 and 70 cents per day – this doesn’t seem to me to be a huge impost and, of course, if you reduce what you use, you could even end up paying less than what you are at present. (The average Australian home wastes 25-30% of the energy used – it just makes good sense to be energy smart.)
With lots of examples recently, of what scientists have been saying for years we can expect in a warming world, the time is right to do what needs to be done to address Climate Change….before it’s too late.