July 09, 2008 12:00am
"A 17-year-old man was referred to the inpatient psychiatric unit at Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne with an eight-month history of depressed mood . . . He also . . . had visions of apocalyptic events."
(So have Alarmist of the Year Tim Flannery, Profit of Doom Al Gore and Sir Richard Brazen, but I digress.)
"The patient had also developed the belief that, due to climate change, his own water consumption could lead within days to the deaths of millions of people through exhaustion of water supplies."
But never mind the poor boy, who became too terrified even to drink. What's scarier is that people in charge of our Government seem to suffer from this "climate change delusion", too.
Here is Prime Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday, with his own apocalyptic vision: "If we do not begin reducing the nation's levels of carbon pollution, Australia's economy will face more frequent and severe droughts, less water, reduced food production and devastation of areas such as the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu wetlands."
And here is a senior Sydney Morning Herald journalist aghast at the horrors described in the report on global warming released on Friday by Rudd's guru, Professor Ross Garnaut: "Australians must pay more for petrol, food and energy or ultimately face a rising death toll . . ."
Wow. Pay more for food or die. Is that Rudd's next campaign slogan?
Of course, we can laugh at this -- and must -- but the price for such folly may soon be your job, or at least your cash.
Rudd and Garnaut want to scare you into backing their plan to force people who produce everything from petrol to coal-fired electricity, from steel to soft drinks, to pay for licences to emit carbon dioxide -- the gas they think is heating the world to hell.
The cost of those licences, totalling in the billions, will then be passed on to you through higher bills for petrol, power, food, housing, air travel and anything else that uses lots of gassy power. In some countries they're even planning to tax farting cows, so there's no end to the ways you can be stung.
Rudd hopes this pain will make you switch to expensive but less gassy alternatives, and -- hey presto -- the world's temperature will then fall, just like it's actually done since the day Al Gore released An Inconvenient Truth.
But you'll have spotted already the big flaw in Rudd's mad plan -- one that confirms he and Garnaut really do have delusions.
The truth is Australia on its own emits less than 1.5 per cent of the world's carbon dioxide. Any savings we make will make no real difference, given that China (now the biggest emitter) and India (the fourth) are booming so fast that they alone will pump out 42 per cent of the world's greenhouse gases by 2030.
Indeed, so fast are the world's emissions growing -- by 3.1 per cent a year thanks mostly to these two giants -- that the 20 per cent cuts Rudd demands of Australians by 2020 would be swallowed up in just 28 days. That's how little our multi-billions of dollars in sacrifices will matter.
And that's why Rudd's claim that we'll be ruined if we don't cut Australia's gases is a lie. To be blunt.
Ask Rudd's guru. Garnaut on Friday admitted any cuts we make will be useless unless they inspire other countries to do the same -- especially China and India: "Only a global agreement has any prospect of reducing risks of dangerous climate change to acceptable levels."
Said Ma Kai, head of China's powerful State Council: "China does not commit to any quantified emissions-reduction commitments . . . our efforts to fight climate change must not come at the expense of economic growth."
In fact, we had to get used to more gas from China, not less: "It is quite inevitable that during this (industrialisation) stage, China's energy consumption and CO2 emissions will be quite high."
The plan's authors, the Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change, said India would rather save its people from poverty than global warming, and would not cut growth to cut gases.
"It is obvious that India needs to substantially increase its per capita energy consumption to provide a minimally acceptable level of wellbeing to its people."
The plan's only real promise was in fact a threat: "India is determined that its per capita greenhouse gas emissions will at no point exceed that of developed countries."
Gee, thanks. That, of course, means India won't stop its per capita emissions (now at 1.02 tonnes) from growing until they match those of countries such as the US (now 20 tonnes). Given it has one billion people, that's a promise to gas the world like it's never been gassed before.
So is this our death warrant? Should this news have you seeing apocalyptic visions, too?
Well, no. What makes the Indian report so interesting is that unlike our Ross Garnaut, who just accepted the word of those scientists wailing we faced doom, the Indian experts went to the trouble to check what the climate was actually doing and why.
Their conclusion? They couldn't actually find anything bad in India that was caused by man-made warming: "No firm link between the documented (climate) changes described below and warming due to anthropogenic climate change has yet been established."
In fact, they couldn't find much change in the climate at all.
Yes, India's surface temperature over a century had inched up by 0.4 degrees, but there had been no change in trends for large-scale droughts and floods, or rain: "The observed monsoon rainfall at the all-India level does not show any significant trend . . ."
It even dismissed the panic Al Gore helped to whip up about melting Himalayan glaciers: "While recession of some glaciers has occurred in some Himalayan regions in recent years, the trend is not consistent across the entire mountain chain. It is, accordingly, too early to establish long-term trends, or their causation, in respect of which there are several hypotheses."
Nor was that the only sign that India's Council on Climate Change had kept its cool while our Rudd and Garnaut lost theirs.
For example, the Indians rightly insisted nuclear power had to be part of any real plan to cut emissions. Rudd and Garnaut won't even discuss it.
The Indians also pointed out that no feasible technology to trap and bury the gasses of coal-fired power stations had yet been developed "and there are serious questions about the cost as well (as) permanence of the CO2 storage repositories".
Rudd and Garnaut, however, keep offering this dream to make us think our power stations can survive their emissions trading scheme, when state governments warn they may not.
In every case the Indians are pragmatic where Rudd and Garnaut are having delusions -- delusions about an apocalypse, about cutting gases without going nuclear, about saving power stations they'll instead drive broke.
And there's that delusion on which their whole plan is built -- that India and China will follow our sacrifice by cutting their throats, too.
So psychiatrists are treating a 17-year-old tipped over the edge by global warming fearmongers?
Pray that their next patients will be two men whose own delusions threaten to drive our whole economy over the edge as well."