In case you missed it

From bizarre climate change adaptation theories to Clive Palmer's Titanic reincarnation and Latrobe Valley's coal 'transformation', a lighter take on the stories that made news in April.

Latrobe Valley

The Victorian and federal governments are working together. As funny as it may sound in this climate of political unease, there actually is no joke there.

Latrobe Valley, home to Australia’s largest brown coal reserves as well as the highest polluting power plant in the country, is set to undergo a transformation with the assistance of both state and federal governments. Now what that transformation will undertake is anyone’s guess, especially given last week’s talk of plans to turn the region into ‘Victoria’s Pilbara’ – a mining hub focused on brown coal and pushed by both the federal and Victorian energy ministers.

The Latrobe Valley is already heavily reliant on brown coal mining, so if the plan includes the ‘Pilbara Valley’ idea then it is more of an expansion than a transformation.

Based on an agreement signed by both governments back in December, the Latrobe Valley Transition Committee is charged with the task of securing the region’s long-term future. The agreement offers up more delicious waffle than you’ll find in Brussels. If you are keen to read it please click here, though your time might be better served reading about the history of boredom – it is actually surprisingly interesting.

Written in the purest form of legalese, the ‘agreement’ includes the creation of a ‘forum’, a ‘reference group’ and a ‘committee’. Seemingly the only thing missing was a taskforce. Maybe that will be one of the recommendations of the committee.

Both governments could agree on the proposal because they weren’t really agreeing to anything.

Highlighting this point in alarming detail is that one of the six directions for the committee is “working together”. I wish I was joking.

Not so natural selection

A report, published in Ethics, Policy and the Environment, has come up with some wacky ways to solve the climate change crisis going forward, specifically through bioengineering humans. Some of the ideas presented include:

-- Pharmacological meat intolerance – reducing consumption of meat by inducing intolerance and consequently cutting beef demand and livestock emissions.

-- Make humans smaller – smaller people consume less.

The authors were also keen to explore the idea of cat eyes, but that was not in the report as it is not proven technology yet.

“We figured that if everyone had cat eyes, you wouldn't need so much lighting, and so you could reduce global energy usage considerably. Maybe even by a shocking percentage,” one of the report’s authors said in an interview with The Atlantic.

“But, again, this isn't something we know how to do yet, although it's possible there might be some way to do it with genetics.”

Of course the authors didn’t say we must do any of this, merely that we should consider it.

The problem – yes, there is one – is that they were serious. The scary thing however, is that in a bemusing way their ideas make sense. I’m already pushing for genetic modification that offers humans cheetah-like speed and Gebrselassie–like endurance. That way we can get rid of vehicles. And don’t even get me started about wings…

Titanic II

A light hearted monthly review would not be complete without a mention of Clive Palmer. He left it late, claiming a spot in the column on the last day of the month through a bold plan to create the Titanic II. It is not a joke; it is a serious business venture from the man who brought you Gold Coast United. Given his struggles to get Resourcehouse to float successfully on the stock exchange however, one could doubt his ability to get a massive cruise liner to do so on water – particularly one with the Titanic name.

The idea reportedly came to Clive Palmer after reading that he was in a titanic struggle with the FFA. He is quite bullish on the prospects for the ship and why not – global warming means icebergs are much less of an issue.

If a Titanic reincarnation is not enough to fill in his spare time, the 'rich lister' is also hoping to grab a seat in Parliament. Given Palmer now appears the patron mogul of lost causes (read: Gold Coast soccer, Titanic II, CIA coal), the only surprising thing is he’s not running for Labor. There is no surprise however, in his decision to pit himself as a candidate for the seat of Lilley – currently held by Wayne Swan, one of his biggest critics. Swan reportedly cheered the news and then realised that, unlike the government, Palmer has money.

ASIO and coal

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has reportedly been looking into the campaigns of anti-coal mining groups and is providing information to the federal government on the matter. The counter-terrorism agency is looking into the potential for peaceful protests to turn violent. ASIO also considered looking into the coal companies, but were informed they were now clean.

Quote of the month: Tony Abbott

Born again environmentalist, Opposition leader, and most probably Australian PM-in-waiting, Tony Abbott, might like to have his time again after an interview with John Laws at the start of the month.

Abbott didn’t shy away from much in the interview, promising he could repeal the carbon price without much difficulty. It might prove a little harder than Abbott is trying to portray, but what caught attention was his response to whether the Coalition’s pledge to repeal the carbon price is any different to Labor’s empty promise to get rid of the GST. A query to which Abbott was quite forthright. Well, sort of:

“It differs because it is different.”

Rumour has it that off-air he confided that his policies are ‘not publically available because they haven’t been released yet.’