Friday, January 1, 2010

Write Your MP

In the leadup to the Rudd the Dudd’s ETS push I fired off emails to a host of Opposition MP’s. I got a few replies including one from Malcolm Turnbull, who, at that stage had one foot on a banana skin and the other up around his noggin with no idea where he was headed or how hard he would land. All he could say was how important it was that Australia must have an ETS. I could read “involved merchant banker” in every line!

Included in the email list was well known headkicker Bill Heffernan a NSW Senator. Big Bad Billy, who hails from Junee, also replied via snail mail and I didn’t get to read his reply until this morning as I was on a surfing trip to northern NSW. I admire Bill as he calls bullshit when he smells it.

I wish I could include the reply here but my lack of technology (no scanner) prevents it. I quote from part of Bill’s letter:

“Essentially, the ETS relies on driving up the price of electricity to drive down people’s consumption and thereby reduce total CO2 emissions. The main problem is that any reduction in CO2 emissions from Australia would simply be offset by emissions from other countries that do not have similar schemes which meant overall global CO2 emissions would not be reduced.”

Now Bill, the woolclasser, welder, and farmer from Junee, understands quite clearly that the ETS wouldn’t work!

A broken down ex truckie (me) who had to sit for his (then) Intermediate Certificate twice can clearly see the ETS wouldn’t work!

But Rudd the Dudd, the Australian Prime Minister, who studied at the Australian National University in Canberra can’t see that the ETS wouldn’t work? Hello!!!

Something is wrong here. Kevin Rudd is on a different page. I wonder what his agenda is?

Anyway, back to Billy’s letter and the part thereof I wish to bring to his attention as misinformation, hopefully unintentional.

“It is important we examine practical, direct actions we can take on climate change based on incentive rather than punishment. This includes cleaning up power stations that account for almost half of our emissions…”

The italics are mine and here I would like to enlighten Bill as to where the majority of emissions come from. Incidentally, there are not many coal fired power stations down Bill's way.

Fred Pearce, a science writer and environmental consultant for New Scientist Magazine, has been studying the shipping industry for quite some time. Large shipping vessels have become commonplace in today's global marketplace as goods are imported and exported across the world. While the high levels of pollution they create are something that most people don't think too much about, some scientists are beginning to evaluate their environmental effect.

Fred has focused particularly on the shipping companies use of filthy, toxic fuel that is polluting the air at a staggering pace. According to his assessment, emissions from ships steaming into ports from Rotterdam to Sydney to Long Beach, are blamed for about 60,000 premature deaths around the world annually. If current practices continue, he estimates that upwards of a million people will die in the next decade due to ship pollution.

The type of fuel typically used in large ocean craft is composed of the dirty leftovers from the refined fuel that is used in cars, trucks, and other land vehicles. It is thicker than land fuel and high in sulfur. It is essentially a cheap, filthy form of fuel that would never be permitted for use on the mainland but that are tolerated on international waters. The sheer size of these ships is astounding, measuring a quarter of a mile long on average. Each one holds approximately 14,000 full-size shipping containers, typically carrying goods from Asia to Australia, Europe, and North America. There are over 100,000 ships and counting on the seas today. Incidentally, if you wish to know what happens to these ships when they wear out, see here:

The reason why reckless ship pollution is allowed to continue is due to the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) policy that permits bunker fuel containing up to 4.5 percent sulfur to be used in international waters. This number is 4,500 times higher than the sulfur amount permitted in vehicle fuel in the European Union. The biggest barrier to enacting stricter pollution guidelines is the increased cost of cleaner fuel. Bunker fuel is inexpensive and plentiful, allowing shippers to make use of the leftover byproducts of clean fuel production.

It would seem that with all the consumables we import from China, Japan, and other countries, ships pollute more than motor vehicles and coal fired power stations. For more on this subject:

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