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October 2006   

Interview: Cowboys and Indians
Finance Sector Union national secretary Paul Schroder is standing between the big banks and a bucket of money.

Industrial: Seven Deadly Sins
Chris Christodoulou gives seven reasons why WorkChoices is bad for business

Unions: The IT Factor
The future of Australian IT looks grim as big companies lead the rush to India and China, writes Jackie Woods.

Politics: Bargain Basement
Simple principles of democracy underpin the ACTU's collective bargaining proposal, insists ACTU Secrteary Greg Combet.

Environment: An Inconvenient Hoax
Al Gore may be warning of climate breakdown, but what hope the truth when he's up against such a well-oiled machine? asks Paul Sheridan

Corporate: Two Sides
Bilateral trade agreements are a good idea – just ask the US multinationals. The rest of us should strongly disagree says Pat Ranald

International: Unfair Dismissals
Nearly 10,000 workers were fired for their trade union activities in 2005, an annual trade union survey shows.

History: A Stitch in Time
Neale Towart takes some lessons from female textile workers while considering the case for recognition ballots.

Review: The Wind that Shakes the Barley
A film charting the turmoil of the Irish war for independence against British occupation during the 1920s might seem an odd choice for top honours at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006.


The Westie Wing
Ian West takes a walk around the backyard with the Prime Minister…

The Soapbox
Rise Up
Hugo Chavez's explosive address to the United Nations

The Fear Factor
A new analysis of the history of fear takes us from the war on terror all the way to the modern workplace.


The Road to Bangalore
A funny thing is happening as the major corporations plan their latest heist on the Australian public – the off shoring of an estimated two million white collar jobs to low cost countries like India.


 OWS Blesses Tassie Plunder

 Feds Knew About Wage Slashing

 Data Farmers' Bitter Harvest

 Umpire Delivers to Posties

 It's a Goal - Compass Out-Pointed

 Childcare Giant Goes Union

 Meat Head Jumps The Queue

 AWAs – Thanks a Million

 Vets’ Fight On

 TB Threat From FoC Ship

 Hamberger in Cancer Blue

 AMWU Challenges Forced Deportation

 Let’s Dance – Andrews Get Hot

 Legal Centres Under Threat

 Activists Notebook

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An Inconvenient Hoax

Al Gore may be warning of climate breakdown, but what hope the truth when he's up against such a well-oiled machine? asks Paul Sheridan

Scientists at "world leading" organisations keep banging on about how we humans have pumped all that stuff into the air and that droughts are worse because of it and ice caps are melting and it will only get worse if some big changes don't happen soon. Scary stuff and hard to stomach, right?

What about then those other organisations, like the 39 of them in the UK and US that ExxonMobil last year generously gave US$2.9 million to, to tell us what's really going on - like that the carbon dioxide that comes from the things Exxon's sells can't really be blamed for anything other than making our lives easier? Ckn' oath. Clears things right up, right?

Then there's the politicians. Our Prime Minister, John Howard, says that he's accepted that climate change, or global warming, is real and does represent a challenge, but says he's sceptical about a lot of the more gloomy predictions. He wouldn't be alone in that view, would he?

Because then there's Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California, and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair getting together recently and instead of shooting some Commies like Arnie used to on screen, they laid down some targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They're checking the earth's pulse and are worried about those gloomy predictions.

So where do we start with this climate change thing when there's politicians telling us its full on and others telling us its not? There's scientists and then there's scientists too, right? There's so many 'what ifs' involved, how do average punters sort out what's what?

Watch the movie.

In An Inconvenient Truth, failed presidential candidate Al Gore (I mean, 'robbed' isn't as obvious a word to use as he obviously didn't work out that Jeb Bush would give his brother a hand in 2000 did he? He's his BROTHER, work it out) takes us on a graphic tour of how smart scientists came to realise man made climate change is alarming enough to tell us that unless significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions - the main culprit - are achieved worldwide within the next decade or so, damage will be irrevocable and life threatening.

Gore's documentary of a lecture series that he has been traveling the US, Europe and parts of Asia with gives a complex issue much needed historical perspective. For many viewers, climate change is a recent phenomena. Most people born before 1980 would think it the same thing as the hole in the ozone layer, while those born after 1980 think global warming and globalisation are the same thing.

Gore is surprisingly engaging as he carefully explains the studies that have been occurring since the 1950s of the planet's heating and cooling cycles and the growing concern about the contribution of carbon dioxide from man made sources to disruptions in that natural cycle.

Luckily, An Inconvenient Truth is not really about Al Gore. He does shed some of the stiffness that made him the butt of jokes while he was, as he describes himself, the man who "used to be the next President of the United States".

The focus of the film is Earth and the drama builds to the point where, for the first time in history, viewers gasp in horror at a graph. That graph, admittedly, is an impressive one as it charts the carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere over the past 650,000 years found in ice cores. From way back then to recently the concentrations of Co2 vary from season to season in a regular pattern until Gore hops onto a forklift and rises up many feet off the ground to point out where our man made contributions have sent the graph and indeed where it will keep heading - up - unless action is taken.

The sort of action needed is, according to those leading scientists, nothing less than a 60 per cent reduction in current carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. To do this is going to take leadership, not risks, because the business case for this type of action has been made by a coalition of leading companies, such as BP, Westpac, Visy, Origin Energy and the Insurance Australia Group.

Early action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions can be delivered while GDP grows at a strong rate of 2.1 per cent per annum over the period to 2050, those businesses argue.

But the sad reailty is that An Inconvenient Truth will become fodder for the cynical, ideologically facile sniping that often passes for political discourse these days.

There is no doubt it has opened more eyes, started more conversations and sparked new debate but at the end of the day An Inconvenient Truth is a film that should never have been made.

It is, after all, the job of political leaders and policymakers to protect against possible future calamities, to respond to the findings of science and to persuade the public that action must be taken to protect the common interest.

But you only have to glance over to our own Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane who was unimpressed by the film's assertions. He said that Al Gore was just here to sell tickets to a movie. "It's just entertainment," he said. What a hoax.


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