Taxing Rodney: Hide’s carbon hypocrisy

Untroubled as he is by the responsibilities of public office, or any apparent need to appear consistent, the former leader of the far-right ACT Party, Rodney Hide, attempts to ridicule the Green Party’s new carbon tax policy in his column at the National Business Review this week. You can’t actually read the column, because it’s behind a paywall, but the ever-helpful Cameron Slater at Whale Oil comes to the rescue by copy/pasting all the best bits. Here’s Hide, 2014 style:

We desperately need the Russel-Norman. A tax to deal to a problem bigger than World War II, the Depression and the Plague all at once.

We must go Green, save the planet and get rich. What a plan! What a vision!

Years ago an old man grumbled to me. GST. Bah. He didn’t think taxing food was right. “What’s next? The air we breathe?” Nope. Our new tax is on a trace gas that we all breathe out.

But those of us with functioning memories will recall that back when Rodney was ACT leader and a minister in a National-led government — only six years ago — he was advocating that the Emissions Trading Scheme be dropped and replaced by — wait for it — a carbon tax. Here’s Rodney in 2010, talking to Guyon Espiner on TV1:

We don’t think we should be doing anything, but what we’ve said is, if you were going to do something, it would be far cheaper and far easier just to put a low tax across fossil fuels. That would achieve the same result, you could also subsidise forestry, and we’ve offered that up to the National Party as an alternative that would be easier. Why would it be easier? It would administratively much less costly, because you’d just put a tax across rather than try and operate a trading mechanism…

I think I sort of understand what’s going on in Rodney’s head. When he was trying to be an electable politician, he at least made an effort to make sense. Now that he’s just another libertarian ideologue with a soapbox he can say whatever he wants, and the green-hating rabid right so ably fed and watered at Slater’s blog will lap it up. Meanwhile, out in the real world, perhaps a carbon tax’s time has come…

When asses go to court

Perhaps the least interesting aspect of the High Court hearing which started today — the NZ Climate “Science Education” Trust (NZCSET) versus the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), before Justice Venning — is the ostensible casus belli, the construction of a long term temperature record for New Zealand. The law does not concern itself with trifles, and the minutiae of the techniques used to homogenise temperature records to account for site moves and instrument changes is nothing if not trifling with respect to the climatological big picture. New Zealand and the world have warmed significantly over the last 150 years, of that there is no doubt, and no amount of legal action will make warming go away and New Zealand’s glaciers recover the mass they’ve lost.

Nor has the the long term New Zealand temperature record been important to the formulation of government policy on climate change. That has relied on international diplomacy, the workings of the United Nations and the international consensus on the science of climate, all leavened with a healthy dose of local politics. The NZ temperature record played no part in either the design of the emissions trading scheme or its watering down.

So if this case is not about temperature records and their relevance to government policy, what is it about? We need to consider a few key questions.

  • Who is bringing the action?
  • Who is paying the lawyers?
  • Who wins, and who loses?

The answers are bad news for the taxpayers and citizens of New Zealand — and perhaps the world.

Continue reading “When asses go to court”

Cranking it out: NZ papers conned by denier media strategy

My inbox in the last month has filled with emails about denier articles in leading New Zealand newspapers. It’s been a veritable crank central across the country. They include the ridiculous opinion piece by Jim Hopkins in the Herald late last year, a similar feature by Bryan Leyland  published in both the DomPost and The Press, then, last week, a piece by Chris de Freitas in the Herald, arguing that desertification in Africa isn’t caused by climate change.

Did Leyland and de Freitas, both leading lights in the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, take advantage of newspapers’ lack of feature material over the holiday break and provide some copy to fill the gap?

An insight to the strategy behind our newspapers’ fairly regular publication of our local deniers can be gained from reading a document I came across recently: the Canadian-based International Climate Science [denial] Coalition’s (ICSC) media strategy, originally posted on the front page of its website last year (pdf here).

Continue reading “Cranking it out: NZ papers conned by denier media strategy”

Don Brash: climate clueless™ to the core

The new leader of New Zealand’s far-right ACT Party — the former National Party leader, Don Brash — has confirmed that he’s a fully paid up member of the climate clueless™, a worthy successor to Rodney Hide, and perfectly on side with major ACT Party backer, millionaire Alan Gibbs (who just happens to be on the policy advisory panel of the International Climate Science Coalition). But Brash hasn’t troubled himself with working on a new script for his climate denial, he’s retreading some of the oldest canards in the denial play book. In a speech this afternoon to the annual conference of Federated Farmers, Brash trotted out this remarkable sequence of untruths, half truths and straightforward lies, annotated below for your reading pleasure…

Continue reading “Don Brash: climate clueless™ to the core”

Brash in pocket

Confirmation that new ACT Party leader Don Brash still considers himself a climate sceptic comes in an interview he gave to arch-libertarian commentator Lindsay Perigo shortly before he launched his takeover putsch (starts as about 24:10 on the Youtube video). Brash happily confirms his scepticism, saying:

“I don’t believe the case has been established that human activity is warming the climate.”

He continues:

“We know that there was a medieval warm period that was much warmer than the globe is now, and we know the Roman period was quite a lot warmer than it is now.”

He also claims that a “very close friend”, “one of Australia’s top physicists” believes “the whole thing’s a con”.

It only takes Brash about a minute to effectively disown the entire scientific establishment (apart from his physicist friend – I wonder who that is?). ACT’s new leader needs to have his feet held to the fire on this. Why should we take his policy prescription seriously, when he is so dismissive of reality in the case of climate change? Perhaps the prime minister’s science advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman, could invite Brash in for a briefing. But perhaps the chink of Alan Gibbs’ loose change is deafening him to the facts…

Hat tip: Carbon News.

[The Pretenders — wonderfully cheesy]