- Date published:
7:45 am, November 12th, 2019 - 53 comments
Categories: australian politics, climate change, Environment, science, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, uncategorized - Tags: climate activism, climate change, coal, scott morrison
So Australia is burning, California has this year had unprecedented fires and the North Pole is melting.
Japan has had typhoons that, shock horror, caused the cancellation of two Rugby World cup games. India and Bangladesh have been hit by unprecedented flooding, and Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands are facing an existential threats from sea level rises.
What is going on? What can be the explanation?
Pretty well every climate scientist in the world has been predicting for decades that pumping too much CO2 into the atmosphere would have this effect. It means that more heat is trapped and the world warms. And we get increased incidences of violent storms, ice melts, sea level rises and fires. Exactly like we are seeing now.
The right has been fighting this for a while. There has been too much profit being made by the oil industry and by rampant consumerism and too many kick backs from mining interests amongst others for politicians on the right to ignore. And the inconvenient truth that is becoming more and more obvious is that capitalist business as usual is wrecking the planet.
Australia is now struggling. Who wants to lay bets on when an Australian exodus starts as people tire of continuous fires?
But the right is still putting up a fight, refusing to accept that climate change is happening and that business as usual is somehow acceptable.
The Liberals won the last election by inciting fear and greed, particularly in Queensland and by pushing the virtues of a coal mine that makes no environmental let alone economic sense.
And now they are going all precious on it, wanting climate change activists to not get “political” by pointing out what is very clear, that the crisis is an abject failure of political leadership.
And they are getting frustrated. How dare we highlight their incompetence and their selfishness and stupidity at a time when their failings have been so clearly exposed?
Like this guy, who happens to be the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia. From David Crowe at the Sydney Morning Herald:
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has slammed the climate change concerns of “raving inner city lunatics” at a time when rural Australians are dealing with catastrophic bushfires, venting his frustration at questions about climate.
“We’ve had fires in Australia since time began, and what people need now is a little bit of sympathy, understanding and real assistance – they need help, they need shelter,” the Nationals leader told ABC Radio National on Monday after a series of questions about climate change.
“They don’t need the ravings of some pure, enlightened and woke capital city greenies at this time, when they’re trying to save their homes, when in fact they’re going out in many cases saving other peoples’ homes and leaving their own homes at risk.”
Mr McCormack singled out Greens leader Richard Di Natale and Melbourne MP Adam Bandt for “disgraceful” attempts to score political points by using the bushfires to prosecute their agenda on climate change and shut down the coal industry.
I am sorry but this is political. And moral. And as clear a failure of leadership as you can imagine. No wonder the Greens are so sore.
And it is not just the extremist woke inner city living greenies that have been urging the Government to do something. Australia’s former fire chief and two dozen senior fire officers have also been ignored. From the Daily Mail:
A former top firefighter claims he and 22 emergency services chiefs were ‘fobbed off’ by Prime Minister Scott Morrison when they penned a chilling warning about impending bushfires and catastrophic weather in Australia months ago.
Greg Mullins, the NSW Fire & Rescue commissioner from 2003 until 2016, and almost two dozen heavyweights sent a letter to Mr Morrison in April demanding an urgent meeting.
The letter said the ex-chiefs wanted to speak to the PM because ‘increasingly catastrophic extreme weather events’ would ‘put lives, properties and livelihoods at greater risk and overwhelm our emergency services’.
After sending the letter, Mr Mullins did not hear from the prime minister’s office for three months, when he was eventually offered a meeting with a lesser official, the energy minister Angus Taylor.
Why is this happening?
Mr Mullins said veteran firefighters had noticed how the climate was changing.
‘Things are happening here that are outside the experience of season firefighters. I’m seeing things that frighten me,’ he said.
The son of a firefighter himself, Mr Mullins said he had tracked what is happening throughout his career: ‘In a nutshell – the fire seasons are longer now … it’s the new normal’.
Mullins gets it. Why can’t the Conservatives?
And in New South Wales the last Labor Government’s attempt to put in place a climate action plan. From Peter Hannam at the Sydney Morning Herald:
The NSW government prepared sweeping climate change policies to decarbonise the state’s economy only to have the plans shelved when Gladys Berejiklian became Premier, documents obtained by the Herald show.
The program included a proposal to “embed climate change consideration into government decision making”, and was developed with the advice of the government-appointed expert panel, the Climate Change Council.
The program has been stymied by the failure to continue to develop a carbon plan, stall work on a carbon pricing system and by diverting funds targeted for reducing energy use into more general projects.
The right is that crazy it has tried to prevent the effects of carbon emissions from coal being taken into consideration when making planning decisions.
From Lisa Cox at the Guardian:
The New South Wales government is considering legislation that could limit the ability for planning authorities to rule out coalmines projects based on the climate change impact of emissions from the coal once it is burned.
It comes after a campaign from the NSW Minerals Council over decisions that have referenced the impact of “scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions” as a reason for either rejecting a mining project entirely or for imposing conditions on it.
For a coalmine, scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions are from the burning of the coal after it is sold into the market, including overseas.
The planning minister, Rob Stokes, said it was “not appropriate for state governments to impose conditions about emissions policies in other countries”.
And everyone is seeing through it. The relatively conservative Sydney Morning Herald recently printed this editorial:
… in the short term, as both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said over the weekend, the main focus should be on expressing sympathy for people who are directly affected and planning an emergency response. But scientists agree that climate change has caused a long-term increase in extreme bushfire weather and made the fire season longer in many parts of Australia. So it is something we should talk about.
It is not a sign of indifference to the victims of bushfires or political point-scoring to raise the issue of climate change. It is common sense. Without a rational assessment of the causes and trends of bushfires, we will only increase the likelihood of more tragedies in the future.
So if politicians want to reinforce their compassion for the victims of bushfires, they should talk about the link to climate change sooner rather than later. The fire season will last for months.
Liberal governments state and Federal may wish to delay this debate because it adds to the case for stronger emissions-reduction policies. They should not however be allowed to adopt the cynical tactics used by the gun lobby in the US after mass shootings.
Australia should officially confirm that it is in a climate crisis. And all activists throughout the world need to win this argument now. Fast.