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Australia’s Children Held Hostage to Inaction On Climate Change


ticker_larsenc_crack_free-2A 100-meter-wide, kilometers-long rift in Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf

by James O’Neill*

In November-December 2015 Australia was an attendee at the Paris Climate Conference.  Various commitments were entered into, although it took a year for them to be ratified.

According to a press release from the Federal Department of Environment and Energy, Australia committed itself to “strong domestic and international action on climate change.”  The commitments entered into in Paris included the following:

  • Set mitigation targets from 2020 with five yearly reviews.
  • Have robust transparency and accountability to provide confidence in the country’s actions and track progress toward meeting targets
  • Promote action to adapt and build resilience to climate impacts.

Australia’s emissions reduction target was for a level 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030.  So how are we doing?

According to government data released on 22 December 2016 (one might be suspicious about the timing) Australia’s emissions have actually increased by four billion tonnes in the year to June 2016 and are projected to continue rising until 2030.  By the latter date, if current trends continue, the government will miss its target by approximately one billion tonnes.

The levels are still rising because we still do not have any effective policies to reduce them.  Virtually the only significant (in budget terms) the government has promoted is the so-called Direct Action scheme.  As of the end of 2016, the Emissions Reduction Fund (as it is optimistically named) had spent 80 % of its $2.55 billion budget.

If that fund were to remain the sole means of meeting Australia’s emission reduction target, then a further $12-55 billion will be required, the latter figure based upon the IPCC’s estimate of global carbon prices consistent with the government’s target.

It is not just the usual suspects that are expressing alarm at this inertia and ineptitude.    On the 13th of December 2016 a range of bodies as diverse as the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Clean Energy Council, the Business Council of Australia and St Vincent de Paul society among several others said:

“The status quo policy uncertainty, lack of coordination and unreformed markets is increasing costs, undermining investment and worsening reliability risks.”

Instead of clear leadership based on the evaluation of all options leading to the development of sound policies we have the unedifying sight of the Minister responsible, Josh Frydenberg, announcing an agenda for discussion which included an emission intensity scheme, and then two days later denying he had even put that option on the table.  It’s a reasonable assumption that in the intervening 48 hours the reactionary rump of his own coalition colleagues had got to him.

There is little hope for a rational outcome of any debate when key options (and the emission intensity scheme was widely supported by various groups) are left off the table because of internal political considerations.

Why does any of this matter?  It is incontrovertible that the planet is undergoing significant changes that are generally attributed to the generic term of “climate change”.  Some even react negatively to the suggestion that it is incontrovertible that this is occurring, but the scientific record speaks for itself.  The climate of planet earth has been changing throughout the 4.5 billion years of the planet’s existence.

For example, to take only one recent illustration, as recently as 12,000 years ago the UK was uninhabited and uninhabitable.  The reason was that it was under several metres of ice and snow.  So radical change can occur in relatively short (in geological terms) a time frame.

The real arguments have been twofold.  First, there is argument about the extent to which human activity is influencing the climate change we are currently experiencing.  For the answer to that I am content to rely on the overwhelming consensus of scientists who actually study this issue.  They say that human activity, and specifically the emissions we put into our atmosphere, are a statistically significant factor.

It follows as a matter of logic that if we are able to reduce those emissions then we may, and I stress only may, reduce the rate of climate change.  There is a school of thought that we are already too far down that particular path to actually have any significant impact at all.  That raises separate issues that I will come to.

It is precisely because of this consensus among the world’s climate scientists that conference such as the 2015 Paris conference pledged to adopt policies aimed at reducing the rate of carbon emissions.

The logical consequence of that commitment is the development of policies that effectively address carbon emissions.   Which brings me back to the earlier quotes.  Australia manifestly does not have effective policies and what policies we do have are having zero net beneficial effect, as well as being expensive and apparently designed to benefit the bottom line of businesses supportive of the current government.

Let us assume next, that human activity is not responsible for the rate of change and therefore anything we do will have no effect.  We are still left with the fact that the observable climate change on the planet is going to have major consequences, certainly within the lifetime of our grandchildren.

Bear in mind that I am discussing the overall effect.  It is entirely irrelevant that some areas of the world will benefit from warmer average temperatures by being able, for example, to grow more crops.

Long before the planet reaches the designated catastrophe level of an average increase in global temperature of 2 degrees Celsius, we can already see fundamental changes occurring that will impact hundreds of millions of people, including those in Australia.

Three related phenomena stand out.   According to the online website Common Dreams (16 January 2017) global sea ice levels are at their lowest in recorded history, and most likely for several thousand years.

This is important because sea ice levels are linked to rising temperatures as the lack of light surface increases the rate of warming because of sunlight absorption rather than reflection.

The second phenomena emerges from a meeting of climate scientists in the UK this week to discuss, inter alia, the cracking of the ice shelf in Antarctica known as Larsen C.  The size of the breaking ice shelf is “only” about 6500 square kilometres.  The significance of the ice shelf’s disintegration is that it frees up the flow of water from glaciers directly into the ocean.

NASA reported that a much larger ice shelf (Larsen B) that partially collapsed in 2002 is likely to completely disintegrate before 2020.  That ice shelf had existed for about 10,000 years and will, within a very short time span, completely disappear.

The third phenomenon was a warning from www.livescience.com (29 November 2016) that the west Antarctic ice sheet could collapse within 100 years. Why does this matter?  That event alone will be enough to raise sea levels by nearly 3 metres.  This continent we know as Australia will become an archipelago.

In these circumstances for the Australian government to kowtow to its reactionary denialist rump is to put all of our grandchildren and their successors at risk.  Whether or not one thinks that humans are responsible for the rate of change is irrelevant.  Change is occurring and those changes will impact life on this planet in ways that are simply for the most part unimaginable.

One might think that in these circumstances it would be prudent, at an absolute minimum, to formulate policies that anticipate these changes and are in place to provide the best possible level of protection for our population.

The current lack of rational debate at the political level is a dangerous path that must be changed for the sake of future generations.

*Barrister at Law  He may be contacted at joneill@qldbar.asn.au


Photo credit: John Sonntag, NASA


  1. 3 meters — that is nothing in the scheme of things. Imagine!!!!

    The peak of the last ice age occurred about 23,000 years ago, and over the next 10,000 years there were three big melts… with sea levels rising about 395 feet to 425 feet over that period.
    The other night there was an excellent program on when the edge of the barrier reef was the coast of the Australian continent. Then, they estimate, in one lifetime — the water flooded in over vast tracks of coastline to the present day.


    • “Great ice caps over northern Europe and north America melted down, huge floods ripped across the earth, sea-level rose by more than 100 metres, and about 25 million square kilometres of formerly habitable lands were swallowed up by the waves.” from Underworld

      • I suppose an Aboriginal woman in the bush is smarter than I am as her knowledge of the world is direct. It is not cluttered with Fake News, so to speak.

        On the other hand, I can get smart by listening to the cross-talk of James, Fish, and Fair. Oh the miracle of literacy.

    • Australia used to be almost split down the middle from north to south with ocean..if that happened today, we would be the boat people that others would want to send back.

      I live on a hill, and I have a boat. If anyone here needs a place to stay, let me know. BYO beer.

  2. The curtailing of using fossil fuels and other factors that may contribute to sea level factors, is against the capitalist ideology of profiteering? what matters is those who have principle governing powers say the 1% rich are addicted to money, the thirst for money and power is not within realm of these individuals who see those with a conscience as a anachronism of a quaint residue, a archetype that is now in the way of progress? meaning the expedient destruction of any who are in the way.

  3. James,
    I am suspicious of something like ‘all scientists agree blah blah’.
    Today there is a report at whatreallyhappened.com that NASA scientists state that carbon dioxide filters the sun rays or whatever and helps to cool the planet. (BTW plants thrive with CO2!)
    James, as a practising barrister you would have heard zillions of ‘experts’ make contradictory claims under oath in court.
    Be interesting to see how Kennedy jnr. handles his appointment by Trump to deal with the vaccine ‘experts’.
    I tend to suspect that allegations that we are responsible for global warming is a globalist scam.
    Ask the people in SA how thay are coping with their electricity bills and outages.
    Now why are we selling so much coal to China so they have cheap power with more coal generating plants being built so they can out do our manufacturers?
    What jobs in industry will be available to our grandchildren?
    How will we have the means to defend our country if we continually limit our industry and buy Chinese crap from Bunnings?
    When will those concerned with green house gasses stand up against using wastefull resources used to manufacture the planned obsolesence junk.
    Ask me about my chinese axe that split at the sharp end after three swing at a green stump and an attempt to dislodge it.
    Ask me why my spine is sore after I leant on the arms of a bunnings picnic chair and the whole thing collapsed in broken metal pieces.
    Sorry James, I do not trust all the crap and hypocracy about a apparent global scam.

    • I might add, how much gren house gas was created,:
      Manufacturing the machinery, using up diesel, digging a big hole, extracting the coal and iron ore to be shipped away in ships built that also are founded on coal and iron ore, using up fuel to get to china, manufacturing the steal to make a axe head, then transporting it to Australia creating more green house gases, transporting it to retailers creating more green house gasses, then have it broken trying to dislodge it from a stump, taking it back to the retailer so that it may be recycled as crap creating more greenhouse gas etc.
      Give us a break, all planned James, look up Dr. Day and his prediction of planned obsolesence.
      Any Greens reading this? Wake up hypocrites!

    • I saw that article too Ned, didnt read it, was busy arguing elsewhere, so many people on the internet that need to be told theyre wrong, you know. someones gotta do it.

      If that article is right, but it strikes me as contradictory because if CO2 cools the place, and CO2 emissions have been rising.. then why are we getting hottest year ever records year after year?

      Well, I didnt read it because its over my head, Im not afraid to admit I dont know the ins and outs of climate change, but I think it might be unreasonable to think that us humans, can pollute this planet as much as we do and expect it to have zero consequenses.

      Brings me back to Dees previous article about trashing our planet

      our first responsibility as custodians of this earth, as is a doctors to his patients, is to do no harm. maybe co2 isnt the cause of global warming, maybe its something else, but we have to realise that what we are doing, as far as polluting the place as we do, is not helping anything.. even if “climate change” is a money making scam, its obvious something is happening, and we need to do something.

      even if we have passed the point of no return, shouldnt we at least try? something? anything?

      That 100-meter-wide, kilometers-long rift in Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf isnt happening because the planet is engaged in some sort of elitist plan to make money.. its an actual thing.. just like the extended heatwaves im living through on an ever increasing regularity these summers..

      I dont trust my own reflection, but I can feel it in my waters.. somethings stuffed up..

      • Things getting hotter?
        Or the figures manipulated?
        I recall NSW way out west in the late forties, it was bloody hot. Above 100, (f) in those days was the summer norm.

        • Fair Dinkum, Fair Dinkum,
          Excuse me for interruping the storyline but I see you embedded a link to Dee’s trash article. How the hell did you manage that? Even Dee does not know how to embed a link. Whew!

          • I know there has always been hot days all over this place Ned, but Im just going by my personal experience over the last few decades I can remember. There does seem to be a lot of extreme weather events being reported, maybe things are reported more, but Ive witnessed a few freak weather events myself locally.

            Seems every summer now, I live through heatwaves – thats several days in a row ~40 degrees.. Im not saying youre wrong and Im right, i really do hope youre right, for my kids sake. and their kids.

            I trust the scientists working to prove 9/11 was a con, and like the fish says, 🙂 – it was only the fake scientists who supported the NIST story, and when they did that, they only endorsed seperate sections of it I think, not the whole fable as it was put together.

            Not having any expertise in a lot of things, I have to trust someone.

            Mary, I’ll send you an email on how to embed a link 🙂

        • Ned, 2016 was for the third year in a row the hottest year since records began. These data have been confirmed by NOAA, NASA, the WMO and the UK Met Office. During 2016 the global average land surface temperature was 1.43C above the 20th
          C average. The average sea temperature was 0.75C above the 20thC average.
          These are the statistics. Irrespective of whether or not one buys into the “humans caused it” argument, the statistics are compelling.
          To call it a “scam” as some critics do is really to posit a conspiracy among a huge number of groups and individuals for which there is simply no evidence.

  4. Thank you James – hot (sic) topic – well articulated and food for thought as always … and it’s certainly not an echo chamber here – great!

    I am not a ‘climate scientist’, nor am I a barrister but I do have a scientific background and know how to analyse, question and apply critical thinking. Unless one has specialised in such a field for years, one cannot categorically provide a scientifically objective statement. So we have to decide who to trust.

    But I have some concerns …

    In the 1970s (I believe) all the headlines were alarming us about global COOLING – so what changed (rhetorical)? Furthermore, I have seen credible articles that indicate that the SAME data that was used 40 – 50+ years ago to indicate possible cooling may have been manipulated – not by altering the data, but simply by filtering out the regional and remote data and allowing the heavily industrialised and highly populated zones to artificially weight ‘the graphs’. Certainly, I understand that a considerable number of regional meteorological collection points were actually shut down globally.

    Moreover, the ostracising of climate ‘sceptics’ and the virtual criminalisation of ‘free speech’ on this topic itself raises grave concerns as to credibility of the one-party narrative – as does the continuous moderation of the official language from ‘change’ to ‘sustainability’. The shutting down of free speech is itself a most compelling argument to be ‘suspicious’ and I simply don’t like where the proverbial money trail seems to lead. I saw figures (can’t recall the link right now) that Al Gore’s wealth skyrocketed – several $Billions – in the few years after launching his campaign.

    There are countless articles of course – I’ll just link a couple of recent ones.

    The following article makes some valid points:

    “ There’s just one problem: science is in deep trouble. Last year, Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, admitted that “much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.” In his words, “science has taken a turn toward darkness.” “
    * http://www.thegwpf.org/donna-laframboise-science-is-in-trouble/

    * Over 30,000 scientists say ‘Catastrophic Man-Made Global Warming’ is a complete hoax and science lie
    * http://www.naturalnews.com/055151_global_warming_science_hoax_climate_skepticism.html#ixzz4W0X6r9H0

    * Skeptical Climate Scientists Coming In From the Cold
    * http://www.realclearinvestigations.com/articles/2016/12/31/skeptical_climate_scientists_coming_in_from_the_cold.html

    Can we really trust the scientists – the science – on this topic? I worry that (climate) ‘science’ is indeed in trouble.

    I am keen to see where the debate goes when the debate is actually permitted out in the open without (?deep state) influences.

    Thank you for the forum 🙂

    • Julius,
      you are in the right paddock.
      You ask; can we trust the scientists?
      Well, the vatican did not trust Copernicus or Galleo.
      The public trusted NIST with its explanation of the twin towers reasoning for collapsing and of course belatedy, building No 7.
      So I suppose trust rests with an individual in what is convenient to those who desire certain beliefs and conclusions for their own agendas at a given point in time.

      • Yes Ned – excellent points – you trigger this ramble.

        At risk of over simplifying , it would seem that people like Copernicus, Galileo, Newton et al. of the time explored science purely in the interest of discovery – of essential knowledge … “WOW – look what I’ve figured out – I must share it with the world … !!”

        In more recent times, it seems that science is driven by the commercial agenda (as were the great geographical exploratory discoveries for the past several centuries).

        For example, Columbus didn’t discover ‘America’ just because he was curious about what lay over the horizon across the Atlantic Ocean (he didn’t even know that he had). He had a commercial mission and was prepared to sail under the flag of the highest paying ‘state family’ sponsor – after years of lobbying, it just happened to be Spain (Isabella I). The riches were to be claimed in the name of his sponsor and he would be rewarded handsomely. In fact when it boils down to it, the European ‘states’ (all under royal families and noblemen) were desperate to find an alternative route to the China (and Japan) once Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 (note the dates!) and the Silk Road was effectively shut off. It was simply a matter of commercial necessity (as well as life or death by land).

        On WTC7, the ‘fake’ scientists all lined up behind the official narrative, but many real scientists have since destroyed their narrative, especially with regard to the free fall of WT7.

        Interesting philosophical point – there are those who study and experiment for the sake of knowledge, and then there are those who are intelligent enough to know all their maths and field of speciality but then manipulate the data to support their (or their masters’) agenda.

        But you mentioned Copernicus – the heliocentric solar system. It is fair to say that no one scientist, including and especially Einstein have simply ‘come up’ with a stroke of genius out of thin air – they have all built on the years and centuries of accumulated knowledge and studied the body of work that preceded them. Those who are rightly recorded as geniuses were the ones who were able to connect the dots and who had a Eureka moment(s).

        Interestingly, have a google at Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (1201 to 1274). 🙂

        • Fish, thank you for introducing me to Nasir-al-Din- al-Tusi, who was a Shia Muslim in Iran. I googled the Encyclopedia Brit and found:

          “Most historians of Islamic astronomy believe that the planetary models developed at Marāgheh [by his nibs] found their way to Europe and provided Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543) with inspiration for his astronomical models.”

          Wow. When living in the Middle East, from 1988 to 1993, I learned that Muslim science was ahead of “Western” science (defo in medicine) until around 1550.

          Fish, please consider writing a series for Gumshoe called “Malice in Science.” I don’t mean corruption of research due to the money factor. I mean malice aforethought.

          Maybe another way to tackle the research would be to say “I have been instructed to commit as much genocide and ecological destruction as I can, and here’s a list of ways I can get science to help me do it.” Seriously.

  5. Right, had dinner, now for a bit more on planned obsolesence and the hypocrites. Just a cuple of examples.
    Light bulb strory.
    In the mid 70’s visited deceased grandmother in law’s home.
    I noted the ancient light bulbs to f in law. ‘Well they have been here when the town first was serviced with electricity ….. back before the 20’s’. I advised to retrieve and store them. Need I say more, do we even make light bulbs in Australia?
    Another light bulb story,
    Needed to replace a break light on a vehicle. I used to attend to that, but the latest commodore was a bit of a mystery so off to the local mechanic and done. The mechanic said, lucky this is not a Audi, every two moths a client comes and wants hers replaced. Need I say more?
    Dry cleaning table, equipment etc.
    If anyone goes to the to the town museum in Mitchell (Sth Qld) there may still be the industrial dry cleaning table etc. from the 1950″s, I was told it can still work. Well is it still manufactured? No. Why not, well they went broke. Why? Well, it was so good, when everyone had one they had no need to replace it. Need I say more?
    Getting the Dr. Day picture now people?
    Want to do something about green house gasses? Go back 70 years in Australia and learn how they did it…….. bring manufacturing back to Australia and stuff the treasonous Lima declaration signed off to destroy Australia by labor Minister Don Willisee in 1975 and continued by tbe treasonous Canberra swamp ever since.
    Pauline, you there, you have a drain plug to pull.

    • If an obsessive desire to wallow in the swamp is not enough reason for caution with One Nation then their proposed national identity card is more than enough reason to exclude the serial opportunists from any parliamentary office in this country. If we don’t like what’s going on, and we most certainly shouldn’t, then our best course of action is to not vote.

  6. Thanks to most of you for the comments. A careful reading of my piece shows that I made no claim to infallibility, and neither do the scientists. Over the 4+ billion years of this planet’s existence there have been major climate shifts, in both directions. These obviously occurred before there were even animals, let alone humans.
    It seems to me pretty clear we are in a warming phase. It wont last, but in the meantime of x hundred or thousand years there will be major consequences for humanity. It would in my view be dangerously irresponsible not to recognise this and plan accordingly.
    Simple denial, on whatever level, wont make the problem go away.

  7. Down below I referred to an article at whatreallyhappened.com relating to NASA’s report pointing out that Co2 is nice and helpful stuff so here is the link to the report.
    Please be kind to those snow flakes at the SMH and the Green lot, do not tell them about the report. They still believe the Gore..ish predictions from about 2000 that snow will cease to exist by 2014 or thereabouts.
    By the way, where is that Flannery fellow these days? He still on some government payroll?

  8. James you certainly opened a can of worms. I did not answer yesterday as no one else had, and I had my knickers in a knot regarding your article, I needed time to think my answer over.

    Thank goodness some others have already placed some of my would-be comments.

    The fact that ice shelves are breaking off is no reason for concern. Antarctica is an island or continent of ice. Snow has fallen over eons and accumulates. When the weight of that accumulated snow and ice becomes too heavy to support itself at the edges it snaps off. Don’t forget there is a force of ocean movement also adding to the situation.

    The biggest environmental factor affecting our climates and weather is the Sun’s sunspot activity., This factor is never mentioned by the MSM or most so called climate scientists. When sunspot activity is high in numbers, here on Earth our temperatures increase. When sunspot activity is low our temperatures dive.

    These sunspot activities occur in cycles. We are in fact now entering a cooling phase and are likely to have a mini ice age. It has been predicted that this cooler cycle could last 30 or so years.

    No matter how smart mankind thinks he is, there is nothing that he can do to counteract the sunspot activity.

    Another factor that most people don’t think about. Scientists talk about human activity and rearing animals producing CO2. It doesn’t, Those activities only recycle what nature has provided. CO2 is stored in the ground in the form of coal, gas, and oil while on the Earth’s surface in vegetation, such as trees and grasses.

    These are processed by man-made industry or animals, such as cattle sheep, house-hold pets and man to be released into the atmosphere and recycled by vegetation into oxygen or returned underground as buried corpses or vegetable matter.

    Another enormous releasing mechanism of CO2 into the atmosphere that humans have no control over is volcanic activity.

    I agree that all environmental pollution needs to be guarded against, but CO2 is not a pollutant. It is organic.

    • I’ve been trying to ‘connect the dots’ on what the whole Global Warming Scam was really about. The best I can do with the information I’ve run across, has to do with the collapse of the fiat money system, there needed to be something to replace it.

      The West has sold off its gold and the East has bought it up, so going back to a gold standard wouldn’t work in the West’s interest. However, basing a money system on ‘carbon credits’ would not only give the appearance of a legitimate basis for the new monetary system, but would also grant another level of control to the PTB.

      Unfortunately for the PTB, the NSA in its infinite wisdom strong-armed the computer companies to put hard-wire back-doors in the computer systems. It didn’t take long for various interested actors to find the back-doors and start monitoring the correspondence and money flows. Front companies were set up and the gold being ‘leased’ into the market disappeared.

      When the right time came, along comes the hacked emails that gave rise to ‘Climategate’ and the scam was exposed.

      So where to from here? I don’t know, perhaps precipitating WWIII as an exit strategy and try to get a master re-set? Bugger if I know, its all above my pay grade. The only thing I can do is chart my course with the information I feel I can rely upon, that information includes a ‘climate change’ of a new ‘ice age’. Dress accordingly…

  9. These stats simply testify a major conflict of interest. As noted re Dee’s 15 Jan “Trashing Our Planet” article, pollution is a mere symptom of a pathologically dislocated existence. You don’t have to look very far to see that a cure would destroy the entire global governmental system . Given the scale of the respective guilt-projection it’s hardly surprising that “our” Syndicate has blown “80 % of its $2.55 billion budget” with nothing to show

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