Deforestation and climate change

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by Tim Badrick

Tim Badrick reckons deforestation is the really urgent environmental issue facing the world, not a carbon price, taking a contrarian view to the usual policy of this publication.
If you have read the comment I made to IA managing editor David Donovan’s recent article on the carbon tax ‘A Carbon Price Makes Good Economic Sense For All Australians’, you probably would have gathered that I am not completely dismissive of the carbon price concept, but I think it is really nothing more in the grand scheme of things than a Band-Aid solution to tackling ‘real’ climate change.

To me there is real climate change and there is bogus climate change, real climate change is happening mainly in countries where large scale deforestation is taking place and where local rainfall patterns are being permanently altered because of such destruction. One thing which should not be confused with the argument as to what effect carbon pollution has on the climate is the unproven hypothesis of what is causing an upsurge in extreme weather events in recent years across the globe. One cannot deny that there have been many meteorological freakish happenings occurring with greater frequency in various countries, like severe cyclones, unseasonal tornadoes, catastrophic floods and unrelenting droughts.

As much as the pro-climate change lobbyists would love to be able to prove that carbon pollution is causing the rather chaotic weather systems in the world at present, the fact is they can’t. It really is nothing more than a pie in the sky, stab in the dark hypothesis to say that carbon pollution is the main cause of our increasingly volatile weather patterns. Possibly carbon may be having some effect, but there is no genuine science to prove it. When you consider that Greenland as recent as around 900 to 1100 AD had green pastures like it has now which over the space of decades become iced over because of a change in regional climate you realise that weather has always been a very unpredictable master and that you haven’t got to go back to the last ice age to find a prime example of real climate change. There is already tangible evidence to suggest that the ‘de-frosting’ of Greenland might only be a momentary reprieve for a country which has just gone through a millennium of being mainly ice, already permafrost is returning to the south of Greenland in areas where it resembled a green meadow for a number years in the late 90s and early 2000s.

Greenland is just one of many examples I could use, but the main point i am trying to convey here is that weather on the earth has always been cyclical and most of the regional weather patterns which have seemingly been out of whack in recent years across the world are not necessarily a symptom of man-made carbon pollution. It may be to a degree but if so it is purely a coincidence and not a vindication for climate change scientists who are trying to stitch up any unproven hypothesis up they can find as rock solid fact to advance their flawed and oft times politicised climate change

What it all comes down to is this, like my comment to David Donovan’s article made painfully obvious, saving the forests of the world, especially in South America, Central America, South-East Asia and Africa should be further up the priority list for action by western governments than any carbon pricing policy. I am quite sure most Australians would much prefer to have Julia Gillard hand the Indonesian government $500 million as a donation to buy up precious rainforest on the island of Borneo and have it designated in National Parks than to see it spent on building Muslim schools in Indonesia. Talk about having your priorities in the wrong order.

Xingu River in Brazil - soon to be dammed will destroy the lives of the Bela Monte Indians lifestyle

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, the fact is Borneo is just one of numerous *countries* where countless acres of primary rainforest is being destroyed to further – as John Denver sarcastically called it – ‘the progress of man’. If we keep allowing equatorial forest to be destroyed in the world there will be no progress of man before too many more years have passed. Had the major western governments acted in the world interest like they should have and offered Brazil compensation to make alternatives to hydro-electricity a financially viable alternative means of generating electricity, then chances are the beautiful catchment of the Xingu River would now be gazetted as a National Park and wouldn’t be facing annihilation courtesy of the just approved Belo Monte Dam, which will be the world’s second largest dam. What a terrible waste of prime rainforest and native Indian heritage stretching back thousands of years.

If we are going to be honest with ourselves, putting a price on carbon will do nothing if we are as a world community don’t put the brakes on deforestation immediately. All western countries should donate at least 1 per cent of their GDP to a fund set up by the United Nations for the express purpose of buying up all the rainforest left in the world until the job is complete. Remember this, trees inhale carbon dioxide, humans inhale oxygen; try it around the other way and see how long we all last.

(Please note these views are the views of the author and not of Independent Australia, which strongly believes that human induced global warming is real and that urgent action is needed including through putting a price on carbon emissions.)

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