New runway for Brisbane airport

Brisbane airport has been planning to build a new parallel runway for some time, and today’s Courier-Mail has a range of stories on the possible impacts. There’s four separate stories on the Courier-Mail website (here, here, here, and here, (plus the cartoon).

They are also attempting to make more use of the online format, providing an “in depth multi-media report” on the issue, with video interviews and graphics. It’s quite a good outline of various aspects of the issue, although unfortunately it starts off with a rather misleading ‘videoshopped’ version of an aeroplane flying very low over a suburban street – much lower than does or will occur with the Brisbane airport.

I am a lifelong resident of inner Brisbane, and I can understand why people living in the vicinity of the airport may be concerned about the possible noise impacts of an extra runway. It is important that they get the full facts from the Brisbane Airport Corporation, the media and government bodies. However, I think a much bigger issue with the airport expansion, which has the potential to affect absolutely everybody, is what the predicted huge increase in the number of flights will mean for greenhouse emissions.

The Brisbane Airport Corporation predicts a doubling of passenger numbers in 20 years from 15 million in 2004 to about 22.2 million by 2012 and more than 35 million by 2023. The proportion in the rise in flights in and out will be similar.
The economic benefits from an expanded airport will be significant for Queensland, but we cannot ignore the fact that a huge hike in air traffic means a huge hike in emissions.

I know the airline industry is doing some research into lower emitting aircraft, but this is unlikely to compensate for the continuing growth in air travel worldwide.

Air travel has very significant greenhouse impacts. According to this site,

There are other effects beyond fuel-based Carbon Dioxide that also add to global warming. These effects include Nitrogen oxides that convert to ozone at high altitude, contrails, and ice clouds. These effects are very significant. When the best available estimates of these additional warming effects are included, the global warming impact of air travel is approximately 2.7 times that of fuel alone.

I say all this as someone who spends more time in aircraft than the vast majority of people. I’m not sure what the solution is, but we certainly cannot continue to ignore this aspect of climate changing activity.

According to the calculator on this site, every time I fly from Brisbane to Canberra I am responsible for the equivalent of 0.67 tonnes of emissions, which I can purportedly ‘neutralise’ by paying $14.16 towards funding climate friendly projects. I am not sure of how scientific sites like this are, but offsetting emissions is the main way at the moment to reduce the overall impact of air travel.

The costs of this might need to be built into the cost of travel in some way, although to date most governments have resisted a mandated impost along these lines. In the interim, voluntary measures are likely to become more popular. The Guardian newspaper in the UK offers a way for people “to pay to balance out your share of your flight’s emissions.”

Perhaps airlines could start offering a voluntary greenhouse offset levy to the price of tickets – although I suspect they might not want to raise people’s awareness too much about just how greenhouse intensive air travel is.

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32 Comments

  1. Yes a curly one – the benefits of the ready availability of air travel, social and buisness are obviious. Despite the best efforts of technology, the personal communicatiopn of a handshake, talk and physical proximity can’t be replacede. You couldnt’ sit in your inner city Brisbane home and do the business of a Senator properly.

    Despie the best marketing effrots of Telstra a phone call can’t replace a hug wiht a relo from oevrseas.

    So what to do? The market regualtory soluiotion is OK for the business traveller – the cost will be amortised over teh general population anyway. What effectively is done with the levey is very questionalbe however. For the domestic traveller much moer problematic as the hysteria with petrol prioces shows all to clearly.

    Much better to develop non emission aircraft – however as with cars, unless massive markte distortions aer employed vis the general taxpayer, this will only occur when the supply of the most cost efficinet compopnets becomes prohibitive.

    So hope that occurs before we start frying, or invest in Tassie

  2. “The Brisbane Airport Corporation predicts a doubling of passenger numbers in 20 years from 15 million in 2004 to about 22.2 million by 2012 and more than 35 million by 2023”

    I usually substitute the word ‘predict’ with ‘will be doing every dodgy deal it can to ensure…’

  3. I hear that the US interests are looking at oil prospecting in the Arctic. Use of this, the presumably last gasp in oil reserves on the planet is not only a betrayal of future generations, lessens the pressure in the present to find alternative fuels for air flight. I am not sure that “climate friendy projects” are going to be the answer – they, AFAIK, can only help to counter CO2 emissions. They do nothing to remove the N and S oxides which are more potent in altering cloud formation, and hence contribute to climate change. The only decrease in such cloud formation happened after 9/11 when all aircarft were removed from US skies for some days.
    As another Brisvegan, I am appalled that people are supporting a 100% increase in such damaging contributions to our environment.

  4. Andrew,
    Of course this emission caper is fine for someone like you who’s travel is financed by the taxpayer and therefore not coming out of your pocket. Funny that, isn’t it? People in your position find “relgion” when they’re not directly impacted.

    How about this then. How about you start driving yourself down to Canberra and therefore saving on lots of CO2 or bicycle your way down there.

    If you were really honest about this, you would promise to pay for your own airfare or find a way down to Canberra maybe even the train that wouldn’t cause so much “emission’.

  5. I’m not really sure what you’re saying pc.

    I’m not paying to offset emissions at the moment, and it doesn’t really matter who pays for my travel. Even if I paid the fare myself, the emissions would still happen. And I’m ‘directly impacted’ by climate change to a similar degree to most Australians.

    If I did pay for emission offsets, it would be out of my own pocket – although whether they would be tax deductable I don’t know. (Now that I think of it, making such payments tax deductable might be one other option for government to consider, although I don’t know how easily it could be policed, or if that would be the most cost effective approach. and as Lesley says above, that only deals with the CO2 side of things)

    I also don’t know if the electorate would actually see it as terribly efficient or effective for all their MPs to be spending 24 hours travelling between cities instead of 2. I suppose it depends on whether you see parliamentarians as serving any worthwhile purpose or not.

  6. Well Andrew, if you really meant what you say, why don’t you donate the equivalent travel expense to a worthy environmental cause and that way get back on the ground witht the rest of us plebs.

    It would also make your preaching far more authentic.

    As an aside… Andrew says:
    “I also don’t know if the electorate would actually see it as terribly efficient or effective for all their MPs to be spending 24 hours travelling between cities instead of 2. I suppose it depends on whether you see parliamentarians as serving any worthwhile purpose or not.

    Well, to be honest, one of the ressons we have problems is because there are professional politicians. Maybe meeting for a few hours a year would make things a lot more effective.

    However it isn’t going to change so my suggestion is pie in the sky.

    The short answer, Andrew, is that, no, most of us don’t see pollys as performing very useful work and so driving to Canberra or catching the overnight train could be just as effective.

    Come to think about it, why would’t you catch the over train. You could sleep on the train and be there in Canberra all refreshed the following morning. You could also do lots of work while sitting there.

    My real point is that you need to get to our level, where you are actually paying for the service before you can preach to us about such things like emissions. That would at least so some authenticity.

    You really do want to tax us to hell anf back don’t you?

  7. pc

    I already do donate a fair bit to various causes, but that’s not really the point.

    Your inference that politcians or others who regularly catch planes around the place are somehow above ‘the plebs’ for doing so is perhaps understandable in a knee-jerk populist sense, but I’m sure anyone who does have to fly regularly as part of their work would attest, there’s nothing very exciting or glamorous about it.

    In any case, if you genuinely think parliamentarians are a waste of space, then it would be better to close down Parliament altogther. You’d save far more money that way, as well as have fewer greenhouse emissions. Pity about that democracy thing, but you can’t have everything I suppose.

    Having said that, I doubt an overnight train journey is that much cheaper and I don’t think it would be particularly refreshing either. However, one would get more reading done and it would certainly produce fewer emissions.

    I don’t really see how it’s got much to do with “getting down to your level” – apart from a just a bit of pollie-bashing. The vast amount of air traffic involves tourism and business, and that generates an enormous amount of economic spin off for our whole community. However, at the moment, the environmental cost of that is not really being borne by anybody. In that sense, it doesn’t matter whose pocket the airfares are coming out of, if the environmental cost is going to be facotred in, the cost will generally be passed down the line anyway.

    The key issue isn’t finding a group of people to blame or taking cheap shots, it’s figuring out if there’s a way of addressing the downside in a way that is (a) effective, and (b) shares any costs around fairly. We won’t even be able to start down that path unless people start acknowledging there is an issue there to address.

  8. While self defecen is almost alwasy non-winnable (particularly for pols) Andrew I do agree with the sentiments you express in #7.

  9. No, I’m not making a populist comment in any way. I just don’t appreciate a pol telling me that we’re bad because we use a great form of transport. Instead of celebrating air travel and the wonderful way it has opened so many doors for humanity (all of us) you seem like wanting to close it down for us plebs so that only the rich and VIP’s ought to use it.

    It would be far more sensible to think about the hard part of reducing C02, which is through improvements in technology rather than the same old trick of taxing something.

    We are not going to make one dent in emssions by taxing over the longer term. If we tax, the Chinese won’t etc. The only way we can reduce imessions is through incremental tech. improvements. The new 787 Boeing coming out in 2008 is supposed to reduce emsissions by 20%- no chump change. the next roll out in 2011 is a smaller jet that will improve emission ouput by 35%. This is where you will see improvments and not taxing people.

    All taxes do is improverish the population. Qantas wouldn’t be able to order these new jets if Australians weren’t wealthy enough to afford it.

    So I suggest you rethink your strategy and hope you realise a tax is the last thing you want.

    On the subject of externalities.

    In order for your claim to be honest , that is, airline emissions are a problem, I would love you to tell me who is being affeced by these emssions. In other words please prove direst causation as to who is losing out.

  10. sheesh – where have I said I “want to close down air travel”?! I specifically said the economic benefits are considerable. I haven’t said I’m opposed to extra travel or even the second runway. All I’ve said is that the extra flights come with a cost – as well as a benefit – and we should start trying to look at ways of taking that cost into account. You immediately go off on about “plebs” vs “VIPs and the rich”. If you want to take a class war approach to it, why couldn’t a charge just go on business class seats?

    You can call it a tax if you want, or you can call it offsetting an externality, but either way climate change is a cost that we’re all at risk of paying dearly for. And why can’t that charge go towards helping the research to reduce emissions, rather than relying solely on market forces, why may be inadequate on their own to produce the incentive to reduce emissions by as much as is needed? Even the technogical gains you suggest are coming will not be enough to cancel out the extra flights that are going to occur globally.

    As has been mentioned in some of my tax posts, it is not correct to say that “all taxes do is impoverish the population”. There is no automatic link between high taxes and low economic growth, or lower social prosperity. It depends what type of tax, who pays it, how much it is, and what it is used for.

  11. “There is no automatic link between high taxes and low economic growth, or lower social prosperity. It depends what type of tax, who pays it, how much it is, and what it is used for”.

    Yes there is. Argentina in the 30’s is a good example of a rich country going bonkers. They even tried to tax exports there!

    If you think there isn’t a direct link between taxes and wealth I suggest you take a look at the realtive growth rates between the US, Hong Kong, China, new Europe and then compare them against France. The arrow is pointing up for all except France. You may also want to take a look at the UK prior to Maggie and then after Maggie. Taxes in the UK were 98% under labor prior to Thatcher. The UK went from a basket case relying on IMF loans to the nation with the best prospects in Europe.

    Furthermore it seems you are unaware of the implications different taxes have on the economy. All taxes “aren’t equal” with respect to capital formation. If you don’t think we are taxed enough as it is then I would suggest you run with that policy at the next election and see how far you get. As a legislator you ought to take a look at all the taxes people are forced to contend with in running their daily lives. Simply implying a “small tax” on airline transport won’t make a difference in people’s lives makes me think you don’t understand peoples’ lives.

    Market forces was the reason car pollution became virtually negligible since the 1960’s. Compare a motor car now to one from 40 years ago and you find the only thing similar is appearance, as everything else is different. It wasn’t a legislator who came up with incremental designs year after year. In fact I recall the left derying that sort of change at the time as “planned obsolesence”, ignoring the fact that cars were changing.

    You’re making the same mistake now. You throw off an empty line that markets can’t solve our problems and yet you can tell us (with a straight face) that Boeing’s amazing technological changes in the 787 aren’t meaningful.

    I would also like you to tell us here and now what are externalities invloved with the issue being discussed and who is being directly affected.

  12. pc

    I don’t dispute that taxes can be harmful or that they have an impact on behaviour, but I think your unequivocally negative assessment of them is excessive. I’ll link here to just one newspaper article which touches on this.

    However, I don’t really want to divert the comment thread on to tax – there’s a whole bunch of posts on that topic through this link.

    This post is really just intended to indicate that air travel is a major contributor to greenhouse emissions, but is not given much attention.

    You are correct that market forces and technological development have been critical in driving (pardon the pun) many of the improvements in car design. However, collectively it is not true to say ‘car pollution has become negligible.’ Each car may put out far less pollution, but there are also far more cars – so much so that I am sure total emissions from cars would exceed the level of the 1960s, despite the massive technogical advancements since then.

    I don’t suggest markets can’t play a major role. Indeed, if a ‘solution’ doesn’t suit the market, then it’s not a solution because it won’t work. However, while the market may be an essential element, it is unlikely to be sufficient. Also, tax structures interact with market – they are not totally separate or opposite forces.

    Eventually, the greenhouse impact of air travel is going to need more attention. As my post mentioned at the end, there are a few different voluntary mechanism starting up now. I think it would be better if the industries directly involved had some input into how this debate unfolds.

  13. Ok Andrew I get your points.

    However you seem to avoid the externality issue that I have been trying to get you to answer.

    The definition of an externality (without going into too deeply) is that someone is gaining at the expense of another.

    So could you please explain to me who it is that is adversely affected by air transport.

    I can give you one group that you never mentioned. The people who live under the planned runway are going go be affected (an externality) by the noise. Unless these people purchsaed homes with this knowledge they ought to be compensated for the noise pollution. It would be nice if you looked into this group.

    It is like the people getting screwed as rsult of the grand prix in Melbourne who have to endure many weeks a year their lives getting messed up as a result of a car race held in a city perimeter. However they receive no compensation for their loss.

    However this is not the externality you had in mind. Is it?

  14. I reckon air travel is a similar issue to urban public transport. If buses, trains, trams and ferries were free or very cheap, they would be an attractive alternative to driving a private car.

    In the last couple of years I have flown to Townsville and Sydney. In both cases the flight was about the same price or marginally cheaper than the bus and cheaper than the train. I wasn’t n a hurry and would happily have taken the slower option if it was half the price of flying.
    I am not advocating more expensive airfares, but that may be necessary to fund the fixing of the damage that flying does. I am suggesting that public funding in subsidised long distance public transport such as trains (beyond pensioner discounts) is an investment in the future and the environment, not giving stuff away for free.

  15. The extra noise is not the externality I was focussing on, but it is a relevant one. Broadly, most of the suburbs that will be affected have already been affected, but may be more so with the extra runway. Some compensation, or funding for soundroofing or some such would be appropriate. Having said that, it is worth noting that the land values in some of the Brisbane suburbs that have been the most affected have still gone up very significantly in recent years, despite the aircraft noise. However, one could also say the value would have been even higher without this.

    I know from constituent representations that the aircraft noise issue causes problems for a number of Brisbane residents. However, I also should note that it is nowhere near the size of the problem that occurs in Sydney, where residential areas are much closer to the end/start of the runways.

    In regard to the externality i was thinking of, we are all adversely affected by climate change. To use your definition, it is the future generation being more adversely affected by the actions of the present (and previous generation). Precisely what the disadvantages are and how much each individual person is affected can’t be quantified, but it is fair to say there is a wide consensus that the current generation needs to be significantly reducing its greenhouse emissions, or else the next generation is going to pay the price.

    The reason I foucsed on this rather than the noise impact, is that (a) the overall consequence of climate change will be much greater than that of more noise in a few suburbs, and (b) far more people will potentially be affected.

  16. There is a simple solution to this Andrew – catch the train to Canberra. Our esteemed parliamentarians did this for decades before air travel and the federal government functioned just fine. (And yes, for the pedants, they also travelled to Melbourne before Canberra was built.)

    Maybe some time stuck on a train and less time in parliament might lead to less taxes and fewer unnesessary laws being introduced.

  17. Well, that might remove the greenhouse impact that I and other politicians make Tom, but I don’t think that would be sufficient to really fix the core of the problem.

  18. Appreciate the fact that you agree with me about this issue of noise externalities.

    You mention that future generations are (may be) affected by green house emissions. Well according to the US Academy of Science, whom I think you would agree is a respectable institution, the current best estimates regarding global temps is that it will probably rise between 1.5 to 5.8 deg C by 2100. That will comprise about 3 degs in the equatorial areas reaching 5 to h degs in the extreme lattitudes. This estimate does not take into account the drive towards technical improvements over the next 100 years. Not does it take into account populations falls, particularly in heavily indutrialzed countries.

    This hardly spells the doom and gloom scenario that you wish is to believe. It also hardly reuires another tax to be imposed and that money doled out to fund research as you say, when morte often than not this money falls into a botoomless pit.

    Don’t forget we are already paying an airport tax for airports we originally paid for with our taxes.

    Taxes, are an easy thing to impose. It doesn’t take much in the way of brights to impose them. We are already taxed enough.

  19. pc police

    Surely making planes more fuel efficient is only going to lower the cost of air travel – therefore encouraging more people to use it – more planes, more airports, more noise etc.

    I don’t disagree that air travel has brought the world closer together and has had many major benefits (as has many other much-maligned inventions like the car) but there is a major downside to this as well.

    A fuel tax is a suggested solution, though obvoiusly difficult to implement. I think Andrew was looking for other ideas. Perhaps we should only allow Rupert Murdoch and all the other businessmen and tourists to Australia to arrive by boat?

  20. Muzzmonster

    Actually it is not easay to predict whether making for more efficient jet engines would make air travel cheap. We don’t that. It could mean that the airlines themselves kept the difference.

    I see no downside in air travel. The upside has allowed humanity to expand its horizons and brought unimaginable happiness and pleasure to us all. There is no downside to this.

    Andrew just wants us to go on guilt trip next time we fly. I’m happy he’s flying around free though. It must give him pleasure and I only wish he wanted that for all of us.

    I also don’t bregrudge him his free travel expense as it’s all part of the job. However I don’t like the sermonizing and expect anyone who does so practice what they preach.

  21. Andrew

    Re externalities.

    If people have suffered losses as a result, let them prove it in a court of law. Otherwise, emissions as a problem is simply an untested theory at this stage.

  22. You are waaaay too sensitive pc.

    Suggesting we need to take climate change impacts more into account does not equal ‘wanting everyone to have a guilt’ trip.

    You are right in saying that there are huge upsides in air travel – not just for individuals and for the economy, but for the chance for the world as a whole to expand its horizons. But it is just silly to say there no downsides.

    You have suggested yourself that there is a downside in air travel with the potential for extra noise for those who live near airports. For the majority who believe there is substance in concerns about climate change, there is clearly a downside in that area too.

    Recognising that does not need to mean everyone should feel guilty every time they fly. Guilt on its own is a fairly pointless emotion. However, deliberate blind ignorance of consequences isn’t usualy that good either.

    FWIW, I usually find flying tedious in the extreme, but I’m not complaining about it, as it is part of a job which has plenty of upsides. If someone could just invent a teleporter, we’d all be laughing.

  23. Andrew

    To be honest I also find flying, as I have done my fair share in life.

    However you are suggesting something that is patently unfair. The Externality you talk about is not something that could be proved in a court law law and hence the tax you’re suggesting is just another slug out of the pockets of hard working Australians.

    Let Boeing figure out how to create a more efficient engine as this takes time and markets do work. Emissions is a concern but it’s hardly a cause for alarm at the moment.

    Taxes are not going to solve the problem of green house emissions. You only do that by creating more wealth because it’s only wealthy societies that can afford (through savings) to spend the money on figuring out how to create new technologies that reduce GHG. So rather than taxing, the best thing you could for the environment is help to eliminate the Capital gains tax. This tax only retards capital formation and hence new techology. Another thing you could do is allow for the immediate expensing of all capital equipment. Companies like Qantas would be looking to turn over their fleet much faster and thereby obtaining the use of the money efficient planes in production. Old planes are inefficient compared to the new.

    Sometimes the least intuitive solutions are best.

  24. It looks to me that there isn’t one magic bullet to solve this problem – and much the same argument can be applied to land-based transport as well.
    pc police, just changing the CGT regime to encourage turnover in aircraft investment isn’t enough on its own. Sure, the new aircraft themselves will be more efficient, however, the amounts of materials needed, along with the currently relatively unsustainable methods of exraction and manufacture will place large demands on the environment that don’t seem to have been acknowledged.
    Further, according to :
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1662662,00.html
    passenger demand is projected to outstrip any gains in aircraft efficiency.
    Further again, longer flights are actually more damaging in the production and placement of their emission, so while there is merit in suggesting that time-constrained customers, such as businesspersons and MPs, be supported, we may find it more rewarding in the long run to change our way of life, and thus conserve the environment better.

  25. Wow! I love this site but I have to say this is crazier than usual!

    pc police, your linking of high taxes to poor countries is quite odd – even if there is a link (which I would probably argue there isn’t) – the top 20 richest countries on the planet would have on average higher taxes than the bottom poorest.

    Just in the news last week, from our own allegedly pro-business government:
    http://comparativetaxation.treasury.gov.au/content/default.asp
    In particular page 33 of chapter 3.

    Mexico has the lowest tax burden and Sweden has the highest. By your logic Mexico should have the richest population and Swedes must be living in abject poverty – however this is not the case! Your strident comments make me suspect you are just stirring.

    As for the plane stuff, I think Andrew’s suggestion for the plane companies to offer a green option (ie pay $16 extra and we fund climate friendly projects) is a great idea (and a good start). The electricity companies in Victoria do a similiar – for an extra $1 a week the company generates the equivalent to my electricty via renewable means.

    I do agree with you one thing though, pc police. I think all the free air travel that comes with being a senator has clearly gone to Andrew Bartlett’s head. It used be about helping people, didn’t it Andrew? But now it’s all about where the next free meal is coming from. You cynical Democrat senators have forever tarnished the good name of politicians everywhere, with your rorting of the two-party system and your luxurious senate committees (I’ve seen the plush seats youse all use).

  26. Well I disagree with you dodgville. Andrew is an Australian senator and therefore should be accorded things which go with such a prestegious position he holds. He should get first class travel and good chairs. Most of us have no problems with that. However I think andrew shouldn’t forget where those trappings come from. We the people are able to provide these trappings through the sweat of our work.

    Politicians seem to forget that and I was just reminding Andrew where they came from.

    Your points about tax are inaccurate. You need to look a little deeper than the present tax regime.The UK and Argentina examples are good examples of whar happens with a good and bad tax regime.

  27. pc

    I’m not sure how you can claim that there is no downside to air travel and then acknowledge the need to do something about greenhouse gases. If greenhouse gases are a problem, there is a downside to air travel.

    You seem to be in the school of using new and unexplored (or uninvented) technologies to solve this problem. While I don’t dispute the value of technologies, another option is to reduce the creation of them in the first place.

  28. PC police –
    I don’t know how you find comfort in the idea that the temperature will only go up 1.5 to 5.8 degrees by 2100, and that emissions of CO2 aren’t a problem. Don’t kid yourself that this isn’t a problem, it is. Huge. Possibly worse than you can imagine.

    For a start, the temperature predictions. These are global predictions. More recent information is showing that the rises over land masses may be twice that. In the extreme latitudes some scientists are now saying 20C rises. And it’s not just going to get hotter, rainfall is going to diminish further, particularly in southern and eastern Australia. It’s already declined significantly over the last 5 decades. There is potential for very large proportions of humanity to starve – it’s already happening in Africa. Widespread extinctions of fauna and flora. Rises in sea levels. How do you think Sydney’ll go if the sea comes up 7 metres over the next 90 years? You need to read a little more widely and get properly informed, and you’ll start to realise that air travel is a problem, along with all the other carbon emitting technologies we are addicted to. Actually, I’d rather Andrew did catch the train, and all the rest of us to.

    To get some reputable information rather than the denialist rubbish you seem to have been indoctrinated with, start with the website realclimate.org, and maybe read Tim Flannery’s book “the Weather Makers”. There are thousands of highly reputable climate scientists out there who agree, and only a handful of people who disagree, many of whom seem to be in a form of denial similar to people who have been told very bad news, like they are terminally ill. I’m sure you’ve heard of the five stages of reaction to such news – well, most of us are still stuck in denial.

    I really wish this wasn’t a problem – I enjoy air travel as much as you, and the trappings of modern life. But I’ve been watching the research on this for over 15 years, and over time I’ve become convinced that as they used to say in the moon shots, Houston, we have a problem. I’m also a farmer in SE Australia, and have watched over the last twenty plus years as the landscape has slowly dried out. Streams that never dried up are dry. Why do you think it is that Brisbane, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne have a water supply problem? Sure, their populations have grown, but it’s also due to declining rainfall, which is bang in line with what is predicted by the climate models. No amount of new dams is going to solve the problem if it doesn’t rain where it’s needed.

    I fully expect you to come back with some response like this is all alarmist nonsense, or that technology wil solve the problem. Sorry, wishing it wasn’t so doesn’t make it not so. And where is this technology? It sure seems slow to appear. And unless we can persuade the Yanks, Chinese and Indians to get to and reduce emissions really sharply, as well as us, then I really fear for the future of our kids.

    Sorry about the rant. It just really worries me when I see apparently intelligent people who clearly have been misinformed by this and don’t grasp the seriousness or urgency of the situation.

  29. Farmer Pete

    I got those estimates from real climate scientists. These are people actually working in the science.

    Last time I looked Flannery wasn’t such a person with these disciples.

    I think it is you who has his skirt up to his head screaming that “we was’ll be dead”.

    Does the American Academy of Science and NASA figure in your contention. That’s where I got my best estimates from, not Tim Flannery. By the Tim goes around the world selling his doom and gloom book on er, a jet.

  30. Andrew, sorry, my exchange with PC police, previous and following, is rather off thread. Apologies. From what I’ve been able to research, air travel is comparable to car travel in greenhouse terms, which I find surprising. I thought it was much worse. At least you travel a reasonable distance – 1248 km – as the heaviest emissions are in take off, making short jumps worse. Rail is a third to a sixth of the emissions. If Australia was serious about reducing emissions, the money Qld is to spend on more runways and endless new freeways might be better spent on a decent rail link south, like the Shinkasen in Japan.

    Hi PC Police. Hope you’re having a good day. My apologies if I came ove a bit strident in my first post – no offense intended.

    “Head up my skirt screaming we’ll all be dead?”

    Ouch! Well, given time, we all will be, so what does it really matter, eh. ; ) Seriously though, yes, I am concerned, and puzzled at the motives of the small and declining group of deniers and snake oil salesmen, who get more of an audience than they should, given their lack of credibility. OK, there are some uncertainties about it, but whatever happened to the precautionary principle? It’s salutory to read about where we’d be now if the Montreal protocol hadn’t worked.

    “I got those estimates from real climate scientists. These are people actually working in the science.”

    And so are people like Graeme Pearman, Pittock, Schmidt, and hundreds of other highly qualified people who are atmospheric physicists and have published very extensively in this area for years, and whose message is much the same as Flannery’s. If they aren’t credible, then what’s driving them? Who do you regard as credible in their stead?

    “Last time I looked Flannery wasn’t such a person with these disciples.”

    I think you mean disciplines, although you’re right, there do seem to be disciples of particular points of view, and some people develop an almost religious fervour about it! As for Flannery, you are correct, he’s not an atmospheric scientist, he’s a biologist as far as I know. He was one of the first people into the remote high country of PNG that was in the news recently. Regardless, evidence of changes in the biosphere provide good corroboration of what the physicists are saying, and there’s a fair bit in his book which makes this clear. I’ve got no particular brief for Flannery, he just has the value of clearly communicating what’s happening and why.

    “Does the American Academy of Science and NASA figure in your contention. That’s where I got my best estimates from, not Tim Flannery.”

    Isn’t Hansen NASA? he seems well respected, even if he doesn’t sing to the same song sheet as the US administration. NASA and the Academy are close to the US Administration, as they have to be to survive. So they don’t dissent, although NASA has been quietly doing some excellent satellite work on stuff like sea temperatures, which confirms the problems. And there are a great many other distinguished and credible research institutes whose scientists confirm the climate change problem. Those who hold a dissenting view, that everything is OK, are a declining and increasingly marginalised group. I sure wish they were right, but somehow, that seems less and less likely.

    best wishes
    FP

  31. Tom
    I dont think Andrew catching a train is the answer.

    I might add it would give him time to do his posts and I certainly hope that is not being done in anything other than personal time.

    As a tax payer I would strongly object to that.

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