This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.
Being an Australian, I can say with certainty that this is not quite the land of ecological enlightenment hinted at earlier. Yes, a politician is questioning AGW, but sadly this is never mentioned by any media; in fact this is the first I've heard of the guy. Instead, the news is fawning over our current Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.
In particular, the media is currently filled with his eager stance on AGW, happily crowing that he desires Australia to 'punch above weight' regarding emission reduction and so forth. This seems to be a common delusion for this man, as he is constantly attempting to put Australia in the limelight on the stage of international politics, forgetting perhaps that our paltry population of ~21m and correspondingly small military and economy renders us as mere lightweights on said stage.
The man is a Bantam rooster, plucky for sure, but blinded by his own self assurance. Sadly, it is this trait that will most likely cause him to forge ahead with anti-carbon measures, regardless of objection.
Regarding Prof. Plimer, having met the man, I can say he is certainly an affable, entertaining scholar, politically incorrect and unwilling to back down in his view of the climate. As noted above, this is a good match with what JEB pointed out years before; he is even old enough to refer to the modern 'billion' as 'thousand million'. I can only hope that the his healthy scepticism, which is of the old variety, rubs off on his students.
...Sadly, the media choose not to mention the man, and thus like all AGW sceptics, he is probably entirely unknown to the general populace. Even on the launch day of his book (which I must get my hands on) he got about a 30 second spot on evening news report that was otherwise pro-AGW.
Regarding the high dependency of Australia on coal-generated electricity (80%), we used to have only slightly under that percentage in the UK up to the electricity privatisation twenty years ago which brought in the 'Dash for Gas'. It used to be virtually 100% coal dependence in the UK until some diversification into oil-fired power stations was introduced after the 1952 London Smog, followed by diversification into nuclear power after the 1956 Suez Crisis when oil supplies started to look unreliable.
I think the only place in Australia where a nuclear power station was seriously considered was in Tasmania, an island off the south coast of Australia, where presumably there isn't any coal.
I do have the impression that Australia has quite a powerful anti-nuclear lobby. I used to work in the UK nuclear industry in the 1990s and the firm I worked for once carried out a safety and environmental impact assessment of a new 20MW research reactor located near Sydney. This reactor was supposed to be used to keep Australia self-sufficient in nuclear medicine materials. About a dozen Australian activists actually travelled to the UK to the place where I worked and occupied the building as a protest against this research reactor. These Greenies obviously didn't want nuclear power to have even a miniscule foothold in Australia. Normally Greenies turn a blind eye to nuclear medicine applications, but this lot seemed to be even opposed to that.
There must be something in this global warming thing for wanna-be politicos.
I attended a sustainable Scotland conference and discovered that it is the Scottish ambition to be a world leader in Green Technology, wind turbines, hydroelectric schemes etc. etc.
The ambition may not be quite so impossible in their minds because they have the example of the Aberdeen oil industry where there has necessarily been some innovation that makes them (made them) leaders in many aspects of the technology.
However, the reality is that North Sea exploration and production did necessitate some significant innovation that gave them something of world leader status.
But the world turns and moves on. Oil exploration is becoming even more demanding these days - but elsewhere on the globe and that leadership could prove transient as the North Sea is depleted and new and more difficult fields are developed and explored elsewhere and it is there that the new leadership and technological expertise will be developed. Indeed, it may even be that many of the skills desert Scotland for pastures new.
BUT I struggle to see how Scotland can bring anything as unique to the this new green energy market as the North Sea did to oil exploration and without that I suspect their wishes may fail to become reality.
Still, what have politicians to do with reality? (or visa versa).
Inevitably though, salvation and dreams of world leadership is inextricably intertwined with belief in AGW as without it Scotland's ambitions seem pretty pale.
They have another problem.
Yes, they and their audience were 100% gung-ho AGW believers, as is necessary, but the audience turned on the presenters and demanded what they meant by "sustainable growth".
They surprised the presenters too.
It would seem the audience didn't want to hear about sustainable growth, they didn't want any kind of growth. Green is fine, growth is not.
Now OK, a nice idea but in today's world reality when you stop growing you die. So now Scotland has to achieve world leadership in a contracting economy.
I think a bigger problem than the UK political consensus on whether AGW is going on is the possibility of further political consensuses about taking action to mitigate AGW. The main idea behind the climate Change Act introduced last year is to create such political consensuses.
There is one political consensus in the UK related to AGW that has been going on for 17 years and has started to become quite damaging, particularly in the past five years - the Dash for Gas consensus. British politicians are very keen on building gas-fired power stations, thanks to the switch from coal to gas the UK has been much more successful than most countries in meeting its Kyoto Protocol targets. But I don't think there's an equivalent of this Dash for Gas consensus in any other country - even Germany, which is a more Green-leaning country than the UK, intends to build 20 new coal-fired power stations and isn't going to cripple them with unrealistic carbon capture requirements.
The Conservatives seem almost certain to win the next general election but unfortunately they seem to be more tied to the Dash for Gas consensus than Labour are. Every now and again the Conservative Home blog tries to raise the issue of energy policy, an example being this article from last year:
This is a good article:
“We need a futile gesture at this stage. It will raise the whole tone of the war” is especially apt to the War on Climate Change.