‘Rooned’, Tomas? ( Comment on: Global Warming v Economy: Economy wins ) It depends on your perspective. Here are a few more ideas for you to consider. My thinking is similar to most. We are in for big and difficult social changes.

About a month ago I read a small article in which a Federal MP said that there is a high likelihood of a ‘food shock’ by Christmas. The stone-fruit industry has warned that these fruit will dramatically rise in price. Wheat crops have dropped and a small article last week reported that unless the drought breaks by Christmas, Australia will need to import wheat for the first time in our history. Wheat prices have risen and the meat industry reports that meat prices will rise. Christmas turkeys will cost more with some producers saying they won’t breed the birds because of the cost of feed. Milk prices have already risen.

Yesterday the ABC news about La Nina was, ‘It’s normally associated with copious rainfall, but this time around, La Nina has failed to deliver. The forecast of a La Nina event had delivered some hope - it normally brings with it good rain, if not floods. But it failed to come through for inland Australia. Dr Gary Meyers is an oceanographer from the Integrated Marine Observing System, based in Hobart. He says this is a unique event. “This particular event in my study actually never came up in the whole data set for the 20th century,” he said. “Debatably, you could say there were a few other years when something like this happened, perhaps one other, 1967.” Nevertheless, he says, it is quite unusual. Scientists are not giving up hope yet, and the Bureau of Meteorology says this La Nina may still deliver some relief over coming months.’

If this drought is not a beginning to global warming climate change, it is an indication of the future, as the CSIRO reports that over the next decade or so droughts and higher temperatures will become more frequent and longer lasting.

In the US some recent research indicates that at a one degree level of warming, much of that country’s interior will quickly dry; the grain and corn belt, the vast grasslands of Nebraska will become desert. What will that do for the US plans for biofuels?

On that note, some research published last month shows that the nitrogen used in production of biofuels will cause more warming than the fuel will prevent. Technology is not the solution. The question is reduction in emissions.

As I pointed out, no nation wants to reduce because to reduce means lowering productivity, jobs, and lifestyle – in other words a recession. Most of what we consume can be called a luxury. Ships from around the world burn oil travelling to the Southern Ocean to catch toothfish, which is then shipped to exclusive restaurants in Los Angeles or London. Tasmanian rock lobster is caught and put in twenty-kilo boxes of ice and shipped fresh to Paris or New York. Flower growers in Victoria air-freight fresh flowers to Tokyo.

Can we afford such carbon dioxide luxury in the world now? What would happen to the abalone or cray industry if they can no longer fly their catch to the tables of the ritzy restaurants… or if we do not get truffle from France, seaweed from Japan.

Short-haul fight is the most carbon polluting air-travel, yet we have $10 tickets to encourage flights. I know someone whose friend in Melbourne made that step into the Australian dream by buying a house. So my friend flew from Hobart to Melbourne to go to the house-warming party. I read that the Rolling Stones (?) tour used five 747s and 17 semitrailers for their world tour. In a global warming world is this fair? What about racing cars flown around the world to compete in races, horses flown to the Melbourne Cup?

Our society and its day-to-day doings live on oil. How do these luxuries stack up against their carbon emissions?

Making cuts to emissions will cause economic stress and Australia is extremely vulnerable. In an ABC news report, ‘The latest figures submitted to the United Nations show Australia is one of the worst greenhouse gas emitters in the developed world, and rapidly getting worse. Andrew Macintosh, the associate director of the Australian National University’s Climate Initiative, says that puts Australia in a very difficult position as the world prepares to set new emissions reduction targets. “We’re in a very weak negotiating position and we’ve also put ourselves in a compromised economic position going forward,” he said. “Unfortunately this is when history is coming back to bite us.”

Mr Macintosh says since 1990, the benchmark year for the Kyoto protocol, Australia has averaged the second-highest level of carbon dioxide emissions per capita among countries in the developed world. Only Luxembourg’s are higher.

“We have to make cuts domestically, and they’re going to have to be quite dramatic,” he said. “We’re also going to have to import permits and essentially take the surplus from other countries, and that’s going to put a strain on our economy because those permits are going to cost quite a lot of money as time goes by.” That, says Mr Macintosh, is why politicians have struggled with climate policy. “We’ve got ourselves in a catch-22 situation. We really are in a bind,” he said.’

To make reductions in carbon emissions will have dramatic social and economic effects and no nation is yet (or ever will be) willing to make. Will Australia bite the bullet and stop exporting coal?

Finally, here is an interesting, and short, article from Professor John Lie, Dean of International and Area Studies, University of California at Berkeley.  Called ‘Global climate change and the politics of disaster’ ( here ). It offers one view of likely social effects and responses to global warming

Jon Sumby

Making cuts to emissions will cause economic stress and Australia is extremely vulnerable. In an ABC news report, ‘The latest figures submitted to the United Nations show Australia is one of the worst greenhouse gas emitters in the developed world, and rapidly getting worse. Andrew Macintosh, the associate director of the Australian National University’s Climate Initiative, says that puts Australia in a very difficult position as the world prepares to set new emissions reduction targets. “We’re in a very weak negotiating position and we’ve also put ourselves in a compromised economic position going forward,” he said. “Unfortunately this is when history is coming back to bite us.”