The Australia Institute has again exposed itself as a blatant exponent of environmental dogma in its latest publication – a submission to the Scientific inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory.
Instead of a reasoned debate, based on the science of fracking as a method for safe extraction of natural gas, TAI has simply gone for the extreme position – there should be no development of natural gas because it might be bad for the planet.
Fracking or no fracking, gas development should simply not be allowed, says TAI, without any reference to the science of fracking, which is the whole focus of the Inquiry. TAI’s final recommendation tells its dogmatic story very plainly:
“The development of onshore shale oil and gas fields in the Northern Territory should not go ahead under any circumstances.”
TAI’s approach has not impressed the Federal Treasurer, Scott Morrison, who told ABC radio today that he did not place much store on its left-wing advocacy.
Mr Morrison said he was “surprised” the ABC’s Sabra Lane apparently did.
”Well, they are a left-wing think tank,” Ms Lane said on the ‘AM’ program.
“They are a left-wing think tank; I’ll say no more,” Mr Morrison replied, adding:
“I don’t put a lot of stock in it, and I’m surprised you do Sabra.”
Like many enviro-activist organisations, TAI is plainly opposed to any development of fossil fuels, notwithstanding that Australia is currently dependent on those fuels to maintain standard of living. This is particularly so in the NT, which relies on natural gas for power.
TAI claims to have economic expertise, yet it contends (in a separate Inquiry submission) that there would be no economic benefit from developing onshore natural gas in the NT – something which has been clearly refuted by at least two independent studies presented to the Inquiry, each citing substantial jobs growth, economic stimulus and royalties to Government.
Making matters worse, TAI completely ignores the fact that the NT runs on natural gas. Without gas, it would be ‘lights out’ for the Territory – and forget about trying to turn on the air-conditioning.
In its submission, TAI says that heatwaves “have killed more Australians than any other extreme weather events”. It tries to use this as a justification for saying that global warming needs to be stopped – and that means no development of gas, because gas is a fossil fuel, the burning of which adds to carbon emissions in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Climate scientists are divided about the impact of carbon emissions, but TAI has no doubt at all, despite its complete lack of expertise in this highly technical and contested area of science.
The paper it has submitted has been authored by two researchers – Rod Campbell and Mark Ogge.
Rod Campbell addressed a Darwin event last year, beer in hand, asserting it was easy to be an economist – you just told people ‘I’m an economist’. He showed a slide with a picture of a Darwin journalist, with some added devil horns.
Ogge, previously a researcher at enviro-activist group Beyond Zero Emissions. Its mantra, laid out in 2010, was a plan for a 100% renewable energy Australia by 2020.
TAI’s dubious record goes back further as well, including shameful fear-mongering in 2016 when it tried to link coal-seam gas to the supposedly “common experience” of suicides, health problems and bank-lending blacklists.
Returning to its latest publication, TAI is recommending that NO natural gas energy be developed in the NT because of the risk of adding to global warming.
Does this recommendation then also apply to the offshore gas currently used to power the NT? It is the same product, and produces the same emissions. What then is the future for NT air conditioners, an absolute necessity in the hottest, most humid part of our country?
The NT runs on natural gas. Without gas, there would be no lights, and no electricity for air-conditioners. Is TAI advocating shutting down existing natural gas production – and therefore ruining quality of life in the NT and putting many lives at risk?
These are the types of consequences which are often overlooked (deliberately?) in grand plans to convert the world to renewable energy overnight. The world is on a positive path to much greater use of renewable energy, that is sure. But without a transition arrangement which incorporates use of natural gas (used safely in Australia for more than 100 years), there will be cost of living impacts, and they are likely to be most harsh on those least able to afford the price of green power.