Aug 182011

Gary Johns. Just who the hell is Gary Johns when he’s at home?

Well, Wiki says he used to be a Labor politician, yet he gets a regular gig in the op-ed pages of The Australian. Something of an anachronism attempting to become relevant again, perhaps. Clearly, Johns must have been on the right of Labor factionalism given his post-parliamentary positions with the IPA, ACIL Tasman and the ACU’s public policy area. His writings in the current time certainly don’t give any impression whatsoever of him having been part of a successful Labor government at any stage.
Is there, perhaps, an axe in Johns’ background which is in need of a constant grinding? T`would appear so, judging by the seemingly endless stream of literal bile he pours on anything and everything this government does. Y’know, I wouldn’t mind so much if the critique was even just a little bit honest, but it’s not. Consider…

In its report, Strong Growth, Low Pollution Modelling a Carbon Price, Treasury modelling has deliberately hidden the real cost of the carbon tax.
The modelling has not added together each of the GDP losses as a result of the tax in each year. On Treasury’s best case, the number representing the costs to the Australian economy of the carbon tax for the period 2012-2050 is $1.35 trillion, a year’s worth of GDP. Treasury presents these figures only as a percentage loss from a base case of an economy with no carbon tax.
Even using the “Labor economists” Garnaut-Stern-Quiggin discount rate, the figure Treasury believe Australians would be prepared to pay to forgo present income to “solve the problem”, is $873 billion across the period. But the most realistic discount rate that common-sense Australians would actually be prepared to pay, one closer to zero, delivers the figure $1.35 trillion.

Let me identify a few points in there. There’s Treasury Modelling and mention of Messrs Garnaut, Stern and Quiggan in reference to consultancies employed by government to assist & advise it. Now, I seriously doubt Gary Johns has access to the same resources as the Commonwealth Treasury, nor the resources granted to Ross Garnaut, Nicholas Stern or John Quiggan in their various capacities. Indeed, I don’t know whether John Quiggan has been granted any resources in advising government, but I might be wrong. I think Quiggan is only mentioned because he philosophically opposes Johns’ beliefs about Climate Change and as a fellow ‘economist’ Johns considers him fair game. Still, as I say, I could be wrong. Gary Johns might have a piece of paper which says ‘Bachelor of Economics’, but then, so do all of the aforementioned. Surely, on weight of numbers alone, Johns’ piece of paper is out-numbered by all the others? Paper-covers-Rock??
For ‘Rock’ is what we see in Gary Johns and his utterances. Johns’ doesn’t believe the numbers science is showing us in regard to Climate Change. As with all deniers, he never once offers up any refutation of human industrialisation as a major contributing factor in the Climate Change scenario. What he does offer up are meaningless numbers and fear-filled rhetoric neither of which have any basis in fact. Observe the passage quoted above. Where is his validation for his estimates of GDP loss? How can he possibly make the claim that common-sense Australians – who I presume are in favour of addressing Climate Change – prefer to pay next to nothing in that address? I’m in favour and I’ll pay whatever it takes. I know I’m to be compensated. Quite apart, I know that addressing Climate Change through a market-oriented mechanism is the ONLY way forward without damaging our country’s economy as detrimentally as the shrill nihilists would have us all believe. In addition, I agree with addressing human-induced climate change by whatever means necessary because this planet we live on has a finite set of resources and a delicate ecological balance upon which we all rely for survival. That’s now, and into the future. The future is currently undefined because we’re royally screwing around with the present. Based on our past, there may not be any future, but hey, let’s not worry our tiny little minds about that. Let’s just live in the now.
That’s where these annoyingly persistent op-eds, opinion columns, mindless rants on Twitter and the like are coming from. The ‘now’, both economic and physical. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and that’s what denialists are trying to claim. ‘It’ being the state of the thin atmospheric envelope we all live within, the increasing amount of industrial pollutants we – as a developed collective – are pumping into it, and the accelerating rate of industrial development globally. It’s all good! Yes, it might well be, right now, here, today. We have air to breathe, the climate outside at the moment is clement and last time I looked there were no icebergs floating past the Port of Brisbane. However, if we – that same developed collective – don’t stop to consider what we’re doing by way of industrialisation, there might well be massive icebergs floating past the Port of Brisbane at some point in the future. The very same future that none of these Gary Johns, Christopher Monckton, Andrew Bolt kind of people simply refuse to incorporate into their arguments. Until they can address this single, vital point – the accumulated 300-plus years of human industrial pollution of the planet’s atmosphere – then all the op-eds, blog rants, books and economics degrees aren’t worth squirt. In fact, they’re worth a whole lot less.