Last week I came across a report that 60 % of economists support the newly proposed Australian carbon tax initiative, and that most believed the Coalition’s plan was inferior and would likely be more costly.
I thought that it would be good to survey ecologists on this very same issue because we are the people dealing with the fall-out of climate change to natural systems, and we are the group communicating it and its consequences to the greater public. Climate change effects on the Australian biota are already being witnessed, and if we don’t take the lead in this over-populated world of myopic, self-interested growth addicts, it’s our children who will suffer most.
Usually, ecologists and economists tend to disagree on major policies because of the general view that development is incompatible with functioning ecosystems; however in this case, it’s telling that the two seem to agree. If economists and ecologists together support something, it’s probably a good idea to give it a go.
Before I give you a statistical breakdown of the responses I received, I have to state that I have no affiliation or even appreciation for the current government, but this policy is at least a start down the right track. I also truly believe that the gainsaying opposition’s stance will be ultimately worse, and its current leader is one of the most menacing people in Australia.
So, here’s what ecologists think of the carbon tax initative:
- The survey received 94 responses, of which the majority (42.6 %) were postgraduate students (~ PhD), followed by university academics (22.3 %), post-doctoral fellows (18.1 %), government ecologists (10.6 %), and undergraduate students (6.4 %). There was also a smattering of NGO, field and conservation organisation ecologist responses.
- Almost all respondents were Australian (93 %), but I had responses from Germans, New Zealanders, Canadians, Americans, French and Indonesians.
- The ‘support’ question asked to rank support for the tax from ‘entirely against’ (1), to ‘limited’ (2), ‘mostly support’ (3) or ‘completely support’ (4) – the average of these scores was 3.28, meaning that most (88.3 %) ecologists either mostly (44.7 %) or completely (43.6 %) the tax.
- I also asked a follow-up question about how the tax could be improved. Most (72.1 %) of respondents believed that exemptions for petrol and other transport-related services should be ditched, and 46.5 % believed that the price should be increased.
- Interestingly, 44.2 % of respondents believed an emissions-trading scheme should be introduced earlier.
- Other suggestions included: increasing funds to renewable energy research, including agriculture to the tax, gradually raise the tax over time, end fossil-fuel subsidies and reduce compensation to the biggest carbon dioxide-equivalent producers.