The passing of a raft of bills associated with the carbon tax through the House of Representatives this week earned Prime Minister Julia Gillard a place in the Atlantic magazine’s list of the top 50 Brave Thinkers of 2011. The prime minister rubs shoulders alongside Barack Obama, recently deceased Apple demigod Steve Jobs and filmmaker Terence Malick for, in the words of the US magazine, “betting her job on a plan to tax greenhouse-gas emissions”. A profile of the PM on the magazine’s website adds that “80 percent of the country’s electricity comes from coal, helping to make Australia the worst per capita carbon polluter among wealthy nations. Australia is also the world’s leading coal exporter, and vocal factions of the powerful mining industry say the tax scheme will destroy jobs and sink the economy. Such fears help explain the prime minister’s horrendous job-approval numbers.”
Also on the list is Richard Muller, a prominent physicist who was considered a climate change sceptic determined to debunk the scientific consensus on climate change. Muller led a team of researchers – called the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project (BEST) – on a thorough review of the science behind anthropogenic climate change… only to testify before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology that the science was credible.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has pledged to scrap the tax if and when he is elected. Layer and climate change policy analyst Fergus Green argues on Crikey that this pledge might be made than kept.
Meanwhile, the New York Review of Books has published a review by John Terborgh of Tim Flannery’s book Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet that puts the global environmental situation in stark terms. Titled Çan Our Species Escape Destruction?‘, Terborgh writes, “Estimates of how bad the situation is, or course, differ, but various assessments agree that the global economy is consuming resources at a rate equivalent to 1.3 to 1.5 times the earth’s capacity to supply them sustainably.”
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