Sunday, October 10, 2010

Professor Emeritus Hal Lewis Resigns from American Physical Society -- saying that it has put money before science

The following letter to the American Physical Society was released to the public by Professor Emeritus of physics Hal Lewis of the University of California at Santa Barbara. Sad that it is mostly retired scientists who feel safe in speaking out these days. But the retired people concerned are often men of great distinction in their fields -- as is Prof. Lewis

Sent: Friday, 08 October 2010 17:19 Hal Lewis

From: Hal Lewis, University of California, Santa Barbara
To: Curtis G. Callan, Jr., Princeton University, President of the American Physical Society

Dear Curt:

When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago).

Indeed, the choice of physics as a profession was then a guarantor of a life of poverty and abstinence—it was World War II that changed all that. The prospect of worldly gain drove few physicists. As recently as thirty-five years ago, when I chaired the first APS study of a contentious social/scientific issue, The Reactor Safety Study, though there were zealots aplenty on the outside there was no hint of inordinate pressure on us as physicists. We were therefore able to produce what I believe was and is an honest appraisal of the situation at that time. We were further enabled by the presence of an oversight committee consisting of Pief Panofsky, Vicki Weisskopf, and Hans Bethe, all towering physicists beyond reproach. I was proud of what we did in a charged atmosphere. In the end the oversight committee, in its report to the APS President, noted the complete independence in which we did the job, and predicted that the report would be attacked from both sides. What greater tribute could there be?

How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d’ĂȘtre of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it. For example:

1. About a year ago a few of us sent an e-mail on the subject to a fraction of the membership. APS ignored the issues, but the then President immediately launched a hostile investigation of where we got the e-mail addresses. In its better days, APS used to encourage discussion of important issues, and indeed the Constitution cites that as its principal purpose. No more. Everything that has been done in the last year has been designed to silence debate

2. The appallingly tendentious APS statement on Climate Change was apparently written in a hurry by a few people over lunch, and is certainly not representative of the talents of APS members as I have long known them. So a few of us petitioned the Council to reconsider it. One of the outstanding marks of (in)distinction in the Statement was the poison word incontrovertible, which describes few items in physics, certainly not this one. In response APS appointed a secret committee that never met, never troubled to speak to any skeptics, yet endorsed the Statement in its entirety. (They did admit that the tone was a bit strong, but amazingly kept the poison word incontrovertible to describe the evidence, a position supported by no one.) In the end, the Council kept the original statement, word for word, but approved a far longer “explanatory” screed, admitting that there were uncertainties, but brushing them aside to give blanket approval to the original. The original Statement, which still stands as the APS position, also contains what I consider pompous and asinine advice to all world governments, as if the APS were master of the universe. It is not, and I am embarrassed that our leaders seem to think it is. This is not fun and games, these are serious matters involving vast fractions of our national substance, and the reputation of the Society as a scientific society is at stake.

3. In the interim the ClimateGate scandal broke into the news, and the machinations of the principal alarmists were revealed to the world. It was a fraud on a scale I have never seen, and I lack the words to describe its enormity. Effect on the APS position: none. None at all. This is not science; other forces are at work.

4. So a few of us tried to bring science into the act (that is, after all, the alleged and historic purpose of APS), and collected the necessary 200+ signatures to bring to the Council a proposal for a Topical Group on Climate Science, thinking that open discussion of the scientific issues, in the best tradition of physics, would be beneficial to all, and also a contribution to the nation. I might note that it was not easy to collect the signatures, since you denied us the use of the APS membership list. We conformed in every way with the requirements of the APS Constitution, and described in great detail what we had in mind—simply to bring the subject into the open.

5. To our amazement, Constitution be damned, you declined to accept our petition, but instead used your own control of the mailing list to run a poll on the members’ interest in a TG on Climate and the Environment. You did ask the members if they would sign a petition to form a TG on your yet-to-be-defined subject, but provided no petition, and got lots of affirmative responses. (If you had asked about sex you would have gotten more expressions of interest.) There was of course no such petition or proposal, and you have now dropped the Environment part, so the whole matter is moot. (Any lawyer will tell you that you cannot collect signatures on a vague petition, and then fill in whatever you like.) The entire purpose of this exercise was to avoid your constitutional responsibility to take our petition to the Council.

6. As of now you have formed still another secret and stacked committee to organize your own TG, simply ignoring our lawful petition.

APS management has gamed the problem from the beginning, to suppress serious conversation about the merits of the climate change claims. Do you wonder that I have lost confidence in the organization?

I do feel the need to add one note, and this is conjecture, since it is always risky to discuss other people’s motives. This scheming at APS HQ is so bizarre that there cannot be a simple explanation for it. Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don’t think that is an issue. I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club. Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst. When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise. As the old saying goes, you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Since I am no philosopher, I’m not going to explore at just which point enlightened self-interest crosses the line into corruption, but a careful reading of the ClimateGate releases makes it clear that this is not an academic question.

I want no part of it, so please accept my resignation. APS no longer represents me, but I hope we are still friends.


(Harold Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, former Chairman; Former member Defense Science Board, chmn of Technology panel; Chairman DSB study on Nuclear Winter; Former member Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards; Former member, President’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee; Chairman APS study on Nuclear Reactor Safety Chairman Risk Assessment Review Group; Co-founder and former Chairman of JASON; Former member USAF Scientific Advisory Board; Served in US Navy in WW II; books: Technological Risk (about, surprise, technological risk) and Why Flip a Coin (about decision making))


Prominent Warmist ambushed: Unable to answer basic questions

- Science abandoned for metaphysics & quasi-mysticism

- Admits Piers Corbyn's (solar based!) extreme events forecasts important

CLIMATE SENSE campaigners - Philip Foster, Graham Capper, Piers Corbyn & Hans Schreuder attended a talk by Prof Mike Hulme (of University of East Anglia and various UN (IPCC) and EU climate panels and bodies) at Emmanuel United Reformed Church Cambridge on 8th Oct. They found he offered no meaningful defence of the science, indeed he gave significant ground and seemed to be moving onto 'higher' things.

Prof Hulme's talk which was part of the Church's 'EARTHED' series* indicated he had largely moved 'beyond' Climate Change and considered the subject more of a metaphysical or quasi-mystical 'sign' or figure of speech for a plan to better approach the problems of a finite planet and its inhabitants in line with his religious beliefs.

Although he considered the question: What does Climate Change demand of us? he could not defend the supposed science which is claimed to be at its core.

Questions and comments were put to him by Philip, Piers and Hans, of ClimateSense which is campaigning for EVIDENCE-BASED SCIENCE, to the effect that:-

- There is no evidence for the CO2 theory only evidence against.

- ALL the CO2 based predictions of the UN's IPCC have failed,

- World Temperatures have been falling for a decade while CO2 is rising,

- There has been no increase in extreme weather events,

- If you really care about the world then extreme weather events prediction is important and this is being done (eg Russia heatwave etc - see WAnews31**) using solar activity while CO2 tells us nothing; therefore you should be supporting this SCIENCE not a failed theory.

Prof Hulme (First Degree Geography 2(i) Univ of Durham) defended that

(i) it could not be denied that CO2 is an infra-red absorber and emitter and that

(ii) (accepting that temperatures have not risen in a decade despite IPCC predictions) temperatures have increased over the last 50 or so years.

Piers (First degree Physics First class Imperial College London) pointed out that although CO2 is indeed an infra-red absorber and emitter any consequences are completely negated by feedbacks such as extra plant transpiration surface cooling due to extra CO2 which makes plants grow faster****; which is why the data shows CO2 has zero effect in the real world atmosphere.

The temperature point is selective and 'so what?' because fuller data shows CO2 temperatures fluctuating up and down while CO2 was still rising.

Prof Hulme (then) said that dealing with extreme weather events is important whatever the cause and that Piers making and continuing to circulate predictions of extreme weather events is important.

Afterwards a number of people expressed keen interest in what the ClimateSensers had said and took leaflets.

Piers commented: "Prof Hulme offered no meaningful defence of the failed science of the Global Warming lobby and his welcoming my solar-based predictions of extreme weather events is good and an admission of failure of the IPCC project - the whole reason for which was to deal with extreme weather events which were supposedly driven by man-made CO2! Will he now suggest the Govt and UN use these forecasts?

"The Global Warmers are on the run. We now have to take the matter to politicians to turn the run into a rout. The next event is our public Climate Fools Day rally in Parliament*** Wed Oct 27th"


Sensationalist Green/Left journalist warns of apocalypse

Without mentioning one single scientific fact, just the usual appeal to prophecy. He would make a good Jehovah's Witness

We have seen recently how global warming activists have lost all attempts at rational thinking, with horrific advertising campaigns aimed at scaring children about the climate and blood and gore movies simulating the detonation of AGW sceptics. We have had publicly-funded university psychologists trying to discover why so many people will just not believe the climate scare campaigns from the UN. The Godfather of Global Warming, NASA’s James Hansen, promotes civil disobedience and endorses an author who proposes terrorism against power plants.

The whole mind set is exemplified in this piece by Mark Hetsgaard, Author of ‘Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth’. They really do think the sky is falling.

Read it. It speaks volumes.
Mark Hertsgaard: Meet Generation Hot

In fact, every child on earth born after June 23, 1988 belongs to what I call Generation Hot. This generation includes some two billion young people, all of whom have grown up under global warming and are fated to spend the rest of their lives confronting its mounting impacts.

For Generation Hot, the brutal summer of 2010 is not an anomaly; it’s the new normal.

One wouldn’t know it from most media coverage, but the world’s leading climate scientists have concluded that last summer’s rash of extreme weather — including record heat across much of Europe (especially Russia) and the United States — was driven in no small part by man-made global warming. Of course no single event can ever be definitively attributed to global warming; weather results from many factors.

But according to the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization, the extraordinary heat, rains, drought and flooding that occurred this summer fit the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s projections of “more frequent and more intense extreme weather events due to global warming.” In other words, dangerous climate change is no longer tomorrow’s problem; it is here today.

It’s not that we weren’t warned. I date the beginning of Generation Hot to June 23, 1988 because that is when humanity was put on notice that greenhouse gas emissions were raising the temperatures on this planet. The warning came from NASA scientist James Hansen’s testimony to the U.S. Senate and, crucially, the decision by the New York Times to print the news on page 1, which in turn made global warming a household phrase in news bureaus, living rooms and government offices the world over.

“This was a crime,” Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the climate adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, told me, referring to the past two decades of global inaction. But the wrong people are being punished. My daughter and her peers in Generation Hot have been given a life sentence for a crime they didn’t commit; they will spend the rest of their lives coping with a climate that will be hotter and more volatile than ever before in our civilization’s history. Meanwhile, the perpetrators of this crime continue to reap record corporate profits, win political re-elections and get invited onto national TV and radio programs.

Probably the most far-sighted work is taking place in the Netherlands, which has launched a well-funded, politically tough-minded 200 Year Plan to adapt to climate change. (No, 200 is not a typo.) Most countries, however, like most private companies and local communities, are doing little or nothing to prepare for the storm bearing down upon them.


China hoists the West with its own petard

Saying: "You first"

China said a failure by developed nations to honor their commitments to cut greenhouse-gas emissions is hindering progress in talks in Tianjin aimed at reaching an agreement to tackle climate change.

Negotiations between delegates from about 175 governments in Tianjin, northern China, are being held up as the host country declined to discuss the legal framework for a second set of emissions reductions under the Kyoto Protocol after the first expires in 2012.

China is boycotting the talks because developed countries listed in the Protocol are trying to add a global target rather than discuss their individual commitments, said Huang Huikang, China’s special representative for climate change negotiations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Our intervention is not to block discussions of the Kyoto Protocol group, we just want to keep the group’s discussion the right way,” Huang told reporters today. “The key issue is the lack of substantive progress on the developed countries’ side.”

The holdup prevents discussion on countries’ commitments to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from going forward, Jurgen Lefevere, an EU climate adviser and co-chair of the Kyoto Protocol working group, said in an interview this week.

Countries are unwilling to finalize emissions commitments until they know what new rules will cover issues like land use or agriculture, he said. China, Saudi Arabia and Brazil are the main blockers, he said.

Last Chance

In New Zealand, where about 50 percent of emissions come from agriculture, a rule change could affect the country’s emissions reduction target by as much as 4 percent, the New Zealand delegation said today in a meeting.

“This is not a sustainable situation,” Australia’s delegation said of the impasse.

The Tianjin meeting is the last chance before envoys meet in Cancun, Mexico, for Nov. 29 to Dec. 10 talks to help reach an agreement that even the United Nations has said is unlikely this year. The last climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009 failed to produce a binding agreement even after leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama flew in to try to hammer out a deal.

The Copenhagen talks broke down over issues including setting a global emissions reduction target and developing a system to measure and verify emissions cuts. Specifically, the U.S. and others wanted China and some larger developing countries to accept higher scrutiny of their reduction measures. China said richer nations should pledge deeper emissions cuts.

‘This Precondition’

“The precondition is mitigation by developed countries and money to support developing countries, as well as technology,” Huang said today. “Without this precondition, it’s unfair to ask developing countries to do more.”

The U.S. lead negotiator Jonathan Pershing said this week that the U.S. is willing to be flexible with poorer nations even though China, India and Brazil have the “capacity” to be transparent about their emissions reduction measures.

“I don’t think this is a big problem for China, China’s Huang said today. “Our main concern now is that developed countries honor their commitment first, then we will seriously consider sitting down to discuss other issues.”

The time may have come for the U.S. and China to “have negotiations inside the negotiations” to prevent the issue derailing progress on other issues, Dessima Williams, chair of the Alliance of Small Island States and Grenada’s ambassador to the UN, said today in an interview. “It’s the brinkmanship game again, if you don’t jump, I won’t jump,” she said. “This is not a correct approach to negotiations because people’s lives are at stake.”

China, the most populous country and biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, is hosting a meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change for the first time.


Green fever

A mental disorder we should name "green fever" is the only explanation I can come up with for suicidal environmental policies, such as the cutoff of water to California's San Joaquin Valley, impoverishing farmers and creating a new dust bowl, in the name of "saving" a supposedly "endangered" species - in this case the Delta Smelt, a tiny and useless fish.

Another instance comes from Maryland, where houses are about to tumble down a cliff, with authorities preventing the owners from saving their homes because an "endangered" beetle's habitat consistes of burrowing into and weakening the cliffs. WJZ TV in Baltimore reports:
Earlier this year, we revealed why almost 100homes are in danger of falling down a cliff. (snip)

In February, an investigation revealed 90 other homes are also in danger of collapse but nothing is being done because of the rare Puritan Tiger Beetle. Only 5,000 of the endangered species are left on the planet.

"How much is this tiger beetle worth, compared to a bald eagle, a polar bear or that bush?" said Glenn Thierres, DNR.

Last winter, WJZ spoke to a state official in charge of endangered species. He said because of the way these beetles burrow and lay eggs, they need the fast-eroding cliffs to reproduce or they could become extinct.

"If erosion doesn't occur on the cliff faces, then vegetation establishes itself. It's detrimental to the beetle," Thierres said.

Greenies, including global warmists, always speak with utmost certainty about their predictions of doom. However, when it comes to "endangered" species (as with global warming predictions of doom), they often don't know what they are talking about. David Derbyshire of the UK Daily Mail:
Conservationists are overestimating the number of species that have been driven to extinction, scientists have said. (I still want to question every thing every "scientists" should all of the press)

A study has found that a third of all mammal species declared extinct in the past few centuries have turned up alive and well.

Some of the more reclusive creatures managed to hide from sight for 80 years only to reappear within four years of being officially named extinct in the wild.

The shy okapi - which resembles a cross between a zebra and a giraffe - was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1901.

After increasingly rarer sightings, it vanished from the wildlife radar for decades from 1959, prompting fears that it had died out.

But five years ago researchers working for the WWF found okapi tracks in the wild.

Other mammals ‘back from the dead' include the rat-like Cuban solenodon, the Christmas Island shrew, the Vanikoro Flying Fox of the Solomon Islands, the Australian central rock rat and the Talaud Flying Fox of Indonesia.



Four current articles below

Australia's malicious ABC Science Show

Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) currently dominates climate science to the extent that many consider it a fact – not a theory. The famous philosopher of science, Thomas Kuhn, would describe AGW as the current dominant paradigm because this is where the majority of professional scientists claim their allegiance. Of course there are dissenters, commonly referred to as sceptics or deniers, and Kuhn would have correctly predict that these individual would be excluded from the scientific community as evidenced in the Climategate emails.

It is particularly evident from the Climategate emails that a group within the scientific community will go to great lengths to deny so-called sceptics the opportunity to publish in the peer-reviewed literature including through the removal of editors and stacking of review committees.

Nevertheless, outspoken sceptic Bob Carter has managed, over his distinguished career to amass a long list of publications in the peer-reviewed literature including publications of direct relevance to climate science in the best international peer-reviewed science journals.

I make specific mention of Professor Carter and his publication record, because yesterday, on the ABC Science Show, it was repeatedly stated that Professor Carter has a very poor publication record.

Robyn Williams’ introduction to the interview explains:

“Bob Ward says those who seek to reinterpret the science of climate change often have minimal publication records. Publication involves peer review. This process weeds out experiments and papers which are sub-standard. By contrast, anyone can write a book, write a newspaper article, or address public meetings. Bob Ward mentions a paper by Bob Carter, saying it contains false quotes and numerous examples of inaccuracy. Bob Ward says the Carter paper is the worst that has ever been published about climate change.”

Worst, in the actual interview not one specific, substantive error of science is raised by Mr Ward, or Mr Williams, to illustrate the general accusation.

While it is generally acknowledged that Mr Williams is hopelessly biased when it comes to the issue of climate change, his malicious treatment of Professor Carter is beyond anything reasonably acceptable on a science show broadcast by the ABC.

While an apology is in order, in addition I suggest that Mr Williams dedicate a show, within the next month or so, to an interview with Professor Carter to discuss the science in his new book ‘Climate: the Counter Consensus’.


Coal OR Crops? NO. Coal AND Crops

The Queensland Government has announced plans to create a new category of restricted land called “Strategic Cropping Land” which bans all mining or development. The Carbon Sense Coalition has lodged a submission opposing the proposal. See: here

If Queensland’s politicians were really concerned about food security they would not have sterilised millions of acres of grazing land under scrub clearing bans, conservation zones, heritage areas, wild rivers, national parks and other anti-farming bans.

Nor would they have encouraged the diversion of cropping land from producing food for humans to producing ethanol for cars; or used false global warming dogma to justify covering food producing land with feral forests of carbon credit trees.

It seems that the Queensland government has a secret plan to destroy Queensland’s primary industries, all motivated by suicidal Green hostility to the production of carbon fuels and foods, mainly coal, cattle and sheep.

Queensland has always relied on both mining and farming. To undermine mining on the pretence of helping food production is false and destructive. This is not about crops or food – it is just another chapter in the Green war on carbon fuels whose goal is to prevent development of new coal mines and power stations.

The hidden tragedy of this silly policy is that we will never know which protected paddock is underlain by a treasure house of coal or minerals. With modern machinery and knowledge of soils and plants it would be very easy to replace the food lost in the tiny area of crop land likely to be disturbed by coal mining.

The choice is not “Coal or Crops”. A sensible policy is “Coal AND Crops”.

This proposal is quietly slipping beneath the radar. Have a look at the enormous area covered. When this blanket of bans is added to the Wild Rivers sterilisation, development and industry will be excluded from a huge area of Queensland. Future generations will be far poorer if this proposal succeeds, but few people will understand why.


Greenie flatulence

The Northern Territory Government is funding a university study to measure the impact of Australia's wild camel population on climate change.

Charles Darwin University has been funded for the year-long study to monitor the impact of the wild camel herd on the carbon cycle.

It is estimated that more than one million camels are roaming the country's arid regions.

The study will monitor carbon emissions and sequestration, in particular, looking at camel flatulence and the greenhouse gas effect created by decomposing carcasses.

The university says Indigenous people in remote communities will be involved in the project on Aboriginal land.

It is expected to shed light on the environmental impact of techniques for camel management, like animal culling.


Labor locked in deadly embrace with the Greens

GILLARD'S alliance with the minority party was ill-advised and could prove fatal

Christopher Pearson

JULIA Gillard's success in cobbling together a slim majority has distracted attention from Labor's biggest problem. The ALP is being cannibalised to the point where it may not have a future as a governing party in its own right.

It hasn't maintained anything like its normal percentage of the 18 to 34-year-old voters, especially in inner-city electorates. According to Newspoll, 50 per cent of them intended to give their primary vote to Labor during the period from July to September 2008, but it fell to 35 per cent during the month of August this year.

Having lost a swag of that cohort at the age when they're apt to be most idealistic and engaged, Labor is unlikely to be able to count on many of them regularly giving it their first preferences later on.

In outer suburban and regional seats, socially conservative, blue-collar workers and their families were once the core of Labor's vote. That support base was eroded under Paul Keating and sizeable chunks of it swung to John Howard until Work Choices. Tony Abbott has won most of them back and can expect to make further inroads.

None of this is lost on Gillard, of course. However, her decision to enter into a formal agreement with the Greens tells us she hasn't grasped the policy implications. If she is to have any hope of surviving as a long-term leader, her first task is to defend what the advertising agencies call Labor's "brand". The ALP can't afford to be cast in the role of a senior partner in a long-term alliance with the Greens because they are competing for the loyalty of the same voters and Labor will keep bleeding votes.

Some party loyalists within Club Sensible say the agreement was necessary to build the momentum, along with Andrew Wilkie's pledge of support, so as to cajole the rural independents. I don't buy it. At this distance, especially in the light of ABC1's Four Corners program last week and Rob Oakeshott's revelations about his voting habits, their decision seems to have been a foregone conclusion.

Given that the Greens' Adam Bandt had already repeatedly ruled out supporting the Coalition, no pact needed to be formalised or concessions made last month. Whatever message it sent to the independents is as nothing compared with the one sent to all the voters who veer from election to election between the two main parties: we are prepared to vacate the middle ground and govern from the Left.

Why, regular readers may be wondering, am I not delighted by Gillard's folly? The answer is simple. The national interest demands that at any given time both main parties should be capable of running competent governments, neither of which would be beholden to fringe parties.

For almost all of its recent history the ALP has understood that the Australian electorate is pragmatic and, if anything, mildly conservative. Modern Labor has been most successful when it framed its policies accordingly.

Even when the Hawke government's primary vote slumped in 1990 and it was relying on the minor parties for their preferences, it made relatively few concessions to them.

Gillard will justify her embrace of the Greens in terms of running a minority government and improving the relationship before the new Greens senators take their places next July. But if her strategic sense was anywhere near as developed as her tactical skills, she and her ministers would be reminding voters of why the Greens' policy on almost everything is utopian, ill-considered and not properly costed.

To consolidate their own position as parties for grown-ups, Labor and the Coalition should always speak of the Greens as the infantile party: resolutely irresponsible, innumerate and a threat to the economy.

They should also be pointing out that the Greens provide a flag of convenience for former Moscow-liners, Trotskyites and other ultra-leftist ratbags.

Rather than promising "to engage in a respectful conversation" with them, Gillard should take a leaf out of Kevin Rudd's book and barely speak to them at all. If she wanted to govern from the Centre, she would seldom need their votes because she could usually be confident of support from the Coalition under Abbott.

Bob Hawke relied on Coalition votes, notably under John Howard, to pass most of his economic reforms.

There was plenty of room for product differentiation to preserve the parties' brands and to allow for politicking at the margins.

Both sides were able to take some of the credit. The reforms were overdue and courageous on the government's part because in the short term they often adversely affected traditional Labor voters. Nonetheless, the national interest has seldom been better served than in the Hawke years and it's no coincidence that he won four elections on the trot.

Gillard's pact with the Greens virtually rules out a return to the Hawke tradition. Even if she cared to do so, I doubt that she's politically nimble enough to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. The junking of her pre-election promise that there'd be no carbon tax and the design of a committee to consider the tax that deliberately excludes half the polity tell us several things.

The first is that the alliance with the Greens is more than merely symbolic. The Coalition's claims about a secret preference deal with strings attached were warranted.

Second, she lacks even rudimentary caution. Given that it was she who persuaded Rudd to drop the emissions trading system, we can be confident her acceptance of a carbon tax is not a matter of conviction but a high-stakes gamble that the rest of the world will move in the same direction. It was an option that she need not have exercised and may well prove disastrous, for Labor and the economy. It's a decision she could comfortably have deferred until 2013. By then we may have a better idea what -- if anything -- the Americans and the Chinese in particular are proposing to do about carbon.

Pragmatic, mildly conservative voters don't like politicians taking premature, high-stakes gambles, especially ones that drive up the cost of living. If Abbott succeeds in painting the carbon tax in those terms, Labor may decide to depose Gillard before he has the chance to defeat her.




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