Friday, November 15, 2013

Wake Up and Smell the Eucalyptus

Every once in a while, it's helpful to take a look at how conservatism (or at least, "not liberalism") is faring outside the U.S. And as we've seen, Europe is having to seriously rethink its whole welfare state thing. And happily, some of the people who speak English (kind of) are reaching similar conclusions.

I speak in this case of Australia, which seems to have begun the rightward shift the mother country apparently still can't manage. Australia's political history has been a rough one for conservatives. There's a strong Labor Party, which means lots of big-government boondoggles--it's more than flirted with socialized medicine and other schemes. And a few years back, Canberra enacted a stringent nationwide gun-control measure, whose "success" has been mixed at best.

But things are changing in the land down under. In national elections this September, the Liberal Party (which is actually fairly right-leaning, because they're funky in their terminology like that) gave Labor the boot, with party leader Tony Abbott taking over as prime minister. A pro-life Catholic, Oxford-educated, with a long history in business and government, Abbott campaigned on a platform of reducing bloated bureaucracy and putting fiscal responsibility ahead of vague international commitments to "go green." Perhaps to the surprise of the political elite, both in the capital and abroad, the new executive proceeded to do just that, boosted by popular dissatisfaction with high taxes (including a hefty carbon tax) and the resulting sluggish economy. Within a few weeks of taking office, Abbott dissolved the so-called Climate Commission and put in motion plans to end funding of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

Mind you, the government hasn't flatly turned away from environmentalism. There's still a Department of the Environment which handles such issues, and the CEFC still exists. What Abbott did was to a) streamline the central government, just as he said he would, and b) send the message that renewable energy isn't bad, but it needs to stand on its own two feet. Market-oriented, delivering on his promises, making all the bureaucrats and activists mad....must be nice.

But this past week, the government went even further in the environmental field. With a UN conference on global warming global cooling climate change about to begin, the Australians announced that, while they would honor their previous commitments, whatever new taxation or regulatory proposals came out of the meeting, they would not be taking part. Even more encouraging was the language in which the rejection was issued. The cabinet ministers explicitly stated they would not involve themselves in any kind of "socialism masquerading as environmentalism."

That's kind of a big deal. If the government had simply said it couldn't comply at this time, however much it might agree with the principles, that wouldn't be very attention-getting. But to use the sort of language that gets people over here condemned as Tea Party bomb-throwers says a lot. There's being conservative in your talk and being conservative in your actions, and while the latter is what counts, the former is very reassuring in its own way.

This is, of course, only one of a whole set of issues Abbott and his new government have to deal with. Bringing down taxation is a major point of debate, and the country is having a big debt-control debate of its own. And naturally, the Labor hacks are doing their best to block reform. So it remains to be seen how much progress Aussie conservatives will make. But the signs are good, especially with Abbott's leadership. Socially and fiscally conservative, highly educated, with a winning track record and a proven willingness to take on the Left--it's early, but it's promising thus far.

Which brings me to my last point. If all goes well, should we look into forging some birth records to show that he, too, was born in a Hawaii hospital?


AndrewPrice said...

Wait a minute, Australia is real? ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

You know, I think the environmental "consensus" has broken down because of Obama... and the sudden drop in temperatures. Obama lost the issue in Copenhagen when the BRICS and South Africa got together and decided they weren't going to do anything. Then he signed that agreement to one day agree and called it a miracle. After that, the whole house of cards kind of collapsed as no one wanted to be the only ones hurting themselves. As far as I can tell, only a few socialist parties, the Brits and the Democrats still cling to all this junk.

Patriot said...

The Aussies are an interesting people. More American than British in their egalitarianism, they don't really care for titles, position, rank, etc. Abbott seems to be fashioned in this mold....reality based rather than ideal based. And you would be hard pressed to meet a more "environmentally conscious" people. Heck, their #1 sport is surfing/swimming. They are very aware of the natural beauty of their land and don't want to destroy it.

With that said, they are naturals for the clean air/global warming/climate change hype. Their leftist leaders support it of course, while their practical leaders recognize it yet, like Abbott, recognize its limitations.

I'm surprised it took them this long to push back.

I lived there a while back and fell in love with the country.


tryanmax said...

I still think you should make SchadenFriday a regular feature. This does my little heart good.

BevfromNYC said...

Interestingly Europe is starting to decidedly lean right. I think they are beginning to get the idea that when you give people stuff for free, they will demand more free stuff. And when you try to take free stuff away, people get very, very, riotously angry with pitchforks and stuff.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, some say no, but others say "G'day." :-)

I think probably the whole collapse of the AGW myth has more to do with it, but you're likely right; as soon as it became clear that Mr. "Citizen of the World" wasn't going to do anything beyond racking up style points, that did take a lot of the onus off other countries.

T-Rav said...

Pace yourself, tryanmax! There's been so much this week, I didn't want the viewers' brains to get a serotonin overload. That could be dangerous.

But if you really need an extra helping of the schadenfreude, check out the links in the comments on Bev's page yesterday. That should do ya. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Probably, but I like to think that Obama killed the political end of it. "If he's not going to do it, then I'm not going to do it." I see the whole political end as basically a suicide pact and if one participant says they won't do it, then the others quickly bail out.

T-Rav said...

Patriot, a WWII vet in my hometown knew a lot of Aussies and New Zealanders while he was a POW in Japan. He said later that he and all the other Yanks liked them a lot better than they did the British--they were "more American than the Americans themselves!"

Sadly, I don't have any firsthand experience with either country. But Australia certainly seems like a nice place (all the creatures that can kill you in five seconds aside) and I'm glad to see its politics might be turning around now.

T-Rav said...

Bev, that remains to be seen. I still think Europe may be a lost cause in the long run, primarily because of a) their demographic problem and b) they still haven't been able or even very willing to incorporate the large (especially Muslim) minorities into their midst. A few places, like Denmark and Holland (and maybe now France) are starting to turn it around, or at least showing signs of doing so. But it'll be a while before we can tell what comes of all this.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, he has shown a remarkable aptitude for destroying the things he claims he loves, so that's certainly a plausible way of reading it.

Speaking of, keep an eye on how the vote on Upton's "Keep Your Plan" bill goes. I have mixed feelings about it, but if, after everything Obama did yesterday, a large minority of Dems still cross the aisle and vote for it (it'll probably pass regardless), the schaden-meter will approach maxed-out territory.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I'd like to see nothing passed on this and I think the Republicans would be better served stepping back and letting the Democrats flail around. They should announce two principles:

1. No time limits on people being grandfathered in.
2. No discrimination against people who didn't have the plan before but want to sign up for it now.

Then declare your willingness to work with the Democrats and then promptly stand back and watch the Democrats struggle with this alone... shooting it down if it doesn't satisfy your principles (which the Dems will never agree to). The worst case scenario is passing something and then the Democrats can blame the insurance carriers.

Individualist said...

I keep hearing from the environmental types that we are pouring out CO2 into the atmosphere at alarming rates and this will overheat the earth. They base this on Antarctic Ice Core samples that don't agree with Greenland Ice Cores. They excuse this by blaming calcium carbonate contamination from the volcanoes in Greenland.

What I don't hear any discussion about is the rate of increase. Nor is there any discussion about the rate at which CO2 is absorbed out of the atmosphere by natural means.

CO2 is heavier that N2, O2 or H2O the other main gases in the atmosphere. Absorbed into water it forms Carbolic acid. This is what your Soda is before you open it and it begins to fizz. I hear no comments about an increase in Carbolic Acid in the Oceans yet it would seem to me more CO2 would fall into the Ocean than other gases.

Nor does CO2 merely stay in water. IT is fuel for the plankton that absorb it and release O2 through photosynthesis. What rate does this happen.

The charts they use for CO2 levels in the Atmosphere are exponentially upward. They assume CO2 will build up and stay in the atmosphere. No mention of whether an increase of CO2 in the atmosphere or Oceans would trigger more fuel for plants and cause plankton blooms at increased rates. If so the exponential progression charts are wrong.

There are so many questions related to this that are just left unanswered yet they enact billions in taxation on this premise.

Sorry this is not environmentalism to me, it is a government backed fraud.

Good for the Aussies for finally wising up to it.

tryanmax said...

Indie, in fairness, there is a lot of discussion about CO2 in the oceans, but it generally falls into two camps. 1) Alarmists who claim the acidification of the oceans is destroying the *delicate* balance of the marine ecosystem, and 2) Those who either willingly or begrudgingly admit that we really don't know jack about ocean climate.

AndrewPrice said...

39 House Democrats jump ship. The Senate says never. And Obama says he'll veto.


Individualist said...


I have not heard any reference to the oceans so that is good to know but the real problem with the Ocean "turning to acid" meme is that 200 million years ago the CO2 rate was five times what it is now according these same climate scientists.

The alarm is supposedly because Antarctic Core samples show the rate going from 280 ppm (parts per million) to 360 ppm in 50 years. So naturally they assume the rate will keep increasing exponentially forever. But 200 million years ago CO2 had to be around 1300 ppm. So why didn't all marine life die out back then.

The real irony is that over time their may be a tendency for our ecosystem to slowly scrub CO2 from the atmosphere slowly lessening the content over hundreds of millions of years. The reason I suggest that is look at how much oil is in the ground. All of that is in part Carbon produced by plants through the photosynthesis process (in the case of oil, plankton, for coal land plants). That had to at some point all be CO2 in the atmosphere.

It boggles my mind how little actual scientific discussion is actually discussed by the global worming science experts. What they say really is boiled sown to:

CO2 is increasing and it is all manmade.
CO2 is a green house gas and it heat the atmosphere just like on Venus
Therefore we are all going to die of heat exposure unless give us billions for our newest pet project.

It is an argument without any thought behind it.

Individualist said...

Warming not Worming although Global Worming experts might be a more apt description of what these people do.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, my feeling on the bill has been that the GOP shouldn't do anything that allows the Democrats to assign some of the blame for its unintended consequences. Which this bill may do, since it's bound to collapse the "risk pool" or whatever they call it. But, if we do nothing but stand back and say "Told you so"--as satisfying as that would be--they'll say we're doing nothing constructive, just trying to score political points. So I don't know.

But I think it's worked out pretty well to this point. The GOP has essentially forced House Democrats to either a) vote against a bill with the words "Keep Your Plan" in the title, or b) publicly go against Obama. And this clearly had the Dem caucus in a panic; Pelosi was personally trying to convince members to vote against the bill. Personally, I would have liked to see more than 39 bucking Obama and the party line, but it's still a public admission of a rift within the party. And we should do everything we can to keep that going.

T-Rav said...

Indi and tryanmax, I'm not an expert in atmospheric science so I can't speak intelligently on all these points. However, I think it's well worth pointing out that CO2 is far from being the most potent greenhouse gas. Methane, hydrogen sulfide, and even plain old water vapor are much more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide is.

What seems to me the most intelligent argument the AGW crowd can produce is that an increase in CO2, even if it only warms the earth a little, can melt the permafrost enough to release more trapped gases underneath, and allow subterranean methane deposits to rise to the surface, thus creating a chain reaction of rising temperatures. Except, we've seen no evidence of that yet (this was, after all, a very cool year for North America). And you can't very well base your policy on a complete hypothetical.

As for past levels, not only were they significantly higher in the past, they appear to have had no independent effect on global temperature. The best records, in fact, indicate that Earth had an ice age 450 million years ago, when CO2 levels were at least 2000 ppm--and may have been as high as 8000 ppm. According to some scientists, relatively speaking, present-day Earth is in a "CO2 famine."

Tennessee Jed said...

I can only wish USA slides right

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Agreed. I think the Republicans need to let the Democrats implode on this one, that's why I'm happy their bill won't pass the Senate... if it even gets a vote. They did their thing and looked helpful. Now they need to step back and let the Democrats tear each other apart.

tryanmax said...

Indie, I thought Global Worming was what happened when Global Warming causes the global worm population to explode. ;-)

I think the enviro-wackos are working really hard to get the oceans into the conversation but for whatever reason are facing limited success. For starters, the stuff they are talking about is even more esoteric than what they've been pushing before. And constantly changing your focus makes them look desperate and causes people to lose interest.

It's also worth noting that there doesn't yet exist a pH meter that can provide data with the precision and reliability needed to back up claims of ocean acidification.

T-Rav said...

You and me both, Jed. You and me both.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, what think you of the bill Rubio introduced today--basically saying Obama can't do anything to bail out the insurance industry (which he's already given off rumbles about doing)?

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I'm not sure. He does need to be stopped from trying to throw money at the insurers to buy them off. But I'm not sure of the details what needs to be passed to stop him or if the Congress can simply refuse to fund any such plan.

If this is just for show, then it's a mistake. If it actually does stop him and it gets out ahead of the Democrats, then I like it. But at this point, I don't know enough about it to say either way.

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