Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What is wrong with my memory?

Well, it seems with all the hustle and bustle of completing my degree my memory of this blog has faded like my favourite pair of jeans. So, I'm sorry (to the one or two google bots who actually read this thing) I've been so lax in my writing but I've had other things on my mind.

Well, I've graduated for one thing. I managed to grab an above-distinction average for the third year, a period in which I actually chose journalism as a career choice and started to take it seriously.

I've also been fired for no particular reason, although if you were ask my employer if she fired me she'll say that she just couldn't hold a spot on the roster for me anymore or one of those weasel excuses.

If you put the pieces together though, I was fired to cut costs. I was one of the oldest employees there, so I had a higher paycheck than everybody else. It's the middle of a financial crisis and her husband works at an insurance firm while they try to pay off their mortgage.

You don't have to be a genius to put those things together to paint a bleak picture about the balance of power shifting in the wake of climbing unemployment.

A bleak picture has also been painted for the environment this week too, with the Rudd government releasing the 'white' paper, which may as well have been made out of baby seals as far as environmentalists were concerned.

The paper outline an emissions target for 2020, and for a Prime Minister whose campaign ran on green promises, the outcomes were most disappointing indeed.

It turns out all that modeling done by the CSIRO and scientists around the globe was absolute bubkis, and we need not adhere to any sort of target which will stretch us in any way. Instead of the minimum 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases most people have called for the Rudd government outlined a minimum five per cent cut, to rise to 15 per cent if other countries follow suit at Copenhagen.

To the cries of angry environmentalists and an almost speechless Bob Brown, they spruiked their plan as "striking the right balance" between economic concerns and environmental ones. I do concede that the economic downturn would create some pressure to scale down ambitions, but nobody expected this.

Of course business groups cried poor and said the plan would be a burden on business, despite the money promised to polluting industry to offset any losses from the emissions trading scheme, and the government has come out and applied some creative mathematics to make everything seem alright.

The government said that a five per cent target would equate to a 34 per cent per capita reduction and a 15 per cent target would equate to a 41 per cent reduction. True, our low capita base lends itself to the argument the we should do less because we don't pollute that much.

The thing is though, and this is very important; you're only taking five per cent of the pollution out of the air.

It doesn't matter about what we do on a per capita basis, it only matters about what we do in a gross tonnage reduction sense. We could do a 50 per cent reduction per capita and the Great Barrier Reef would still be at risk of dying, what matters is the raw amount you take out of the air.

Of course, this sits pretty with the popularist leanings of the Rudd government, that its trying to rationalise a failing as a win for the Australian people. He's trying to reassure us that we're doing our bit for the environment when his government does effectively nothing, just so he can throw around the sexy figures of a 41 per cent reduction per capita.

It's a shame the environment doesn't care about figures.

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