Flannery a dubious ally

Anne Picot and I must have read different copies of Tim Flannery’s Quarterly Essay, “Now or Never” about global warming.

Flannery’s commitment to the market and carbon trading leave him bereft of solutions to global warming and irrelevant to an increasingly urgent debate.

True, he talks up the possibilities of geothermal power, but even this is put forward as part of a capitalist development fantasy of it turning Australia into a global mineral processing giant (Flannery notably includes uranium!).

Worse, at the centre of Flannery’s argument is clean coal—indeed his proposition that Australia could be a global mineral processing centre (revealingly including uranium!) is based on Australia’s “unique position to develop and rapidly deploy clean coal technology.”

If this wasn’t strange enough clean coal is also at the centre of his “Clean Development Mechanism”—Flannery’s global version of a carbon trading scheme. And on the world scale he proposes that first world polluters should be able to pay for emissions abatement in places like China, “if that is more cost-effective than reducing pollution themselves.”

Such is his fascination with technological fixes, he advances the idea of using the world’s jet fleets to seed the stratosphere with sulphur to cause “global dimming”.

Flannery does believes that human activity is responsible for global warming, but his attachment to the system means he is reduced to fanciful schemes and just-so stories.

Flannery has always been a dubious ally in the fight against global warming, if for no other reason than his vacillation on nuclear power. With this essay Flannery has confirmed his irrelevance.  The essay thankfully is doomed to oblivion.

Ian Rintoul, Ipswich

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