Sunday, April 26, 2009

Juxtaposing is a practice that can be revealing

Some claim that the capacity to 'see' emerging pattern is key to systems thinking. There is no doubt that juxtaposing certain things can reveal more than either component seen by itself (an example of managing for emergence?) Perhaps this is part of the editor, or sub-editor's art?

In The Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday April 1st (News 3) the titles of two articles were nicely juxtaposed: 'Scrap coal plan, says Rudd's man' and then 'State owns biggest polluters'. Despite the date the joke is at our expense - for accepting this as 'how things are' or 'how they have to be'.

Good on Peter Newman for taking the stand he has, including his dismissal of the Federal Government's $500 million committment into researching clean coal technology. Compare this with the PM's recent prognostications on 'clean coal'. Go to Guy Pearce's Quarterly essay for reasons why this may be so! Or see why leading scientists have attacked the Wong-Rudd position on Australia's proposed climate response.

Since reading Pearce's essay I have become aware that most reports about clean coal use seemingly big numbers ungrounded (for the average reader) in what these numbers actually mean. In addition the clean coal technology itself is rarely referenced in relation to the total infrastructure development that would be needed to make it a viable CO2 reducing system capable of making a significant and timely impact on overall CO2 emissions.

Juxtaposed to these issues, the biggest polluters (in NSW) include, according to the report, Qantas Airways, Caltex and NSW government owned power stations in Lithgow and the Hunter. The details come from a report 'Hidden Costs of Electricity' which estimates the health costs of coal and gas generators were $2.6 billion, about the same as vehicle pollution.

PS Good to see that Minister for Finance, Lindsay Tanner was prepared to launch the 'Hidden Costs' report.

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