- Date published:
3:28 pm, February 11th, 2016 - 21 comments
Categories: australian politics, climate change, Environment, global warming, science, sustainability, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, us politics, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: Barak Obama
Some thought the battle to persuade humanity that climate change was occurring has been won. After COP21 surely there could be no further dispute and we should all knuckle down and prepare to adapt and do our best to minimise the damage being caused by reducing the production of greenhouse gasses. But a couple of examples from overseas suggests that conservative forces have not given up their fight to trash the planet while at the same time denying that we are facing an immense problem.
The first comes from the United States where the Supreme Court has stopped at least temporarily Barak Obama’s attempt to use executive powers under the Clean Air Act to regulate the production of carbon dioxide.
Obama, handicapped by indifferent and oppositional houses of representatives and senates decided to use his executive power to determine minimum standards for environmental pollution to set national standards addressing carbon pollution from power plants. The Court has not ruled directly that Obama’s actions were unlawful. Instead they have relied on a jurisdictional argument to impose an injunction on the measure until the issue can be fully considered.
The supreme court agreed to block Barack Obama’s clean power plan on Tuesday, raising fears that the centrepiece of his climate change plan could be overturned.
The unexpected decision creates instant uncertainty about the future of Obama’s climate plan and the historic global agreement to fight climate change reached in Paris last December.
The White House registered its immediate disapproval, and said in a statement that the administration would continue taking “aggressive steps” to reduce climate pollution. “We disagree with the supreme court’s decision,” the White House said.
But officials told reporters in a conference call that they remained confident this was a “bump in the road”, and that the plan would prevail.
The officials also said Obama had been briefed and would speak on the decisions soon.
The surprising vote by the justices put a temporary freeze on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules cutting carbon emissions from power plants until the Washington DC circuit court of appeals hears challenges from 29, mainly Republican-led states, and dozens of corporations and industry groups. Arguments are scheduled for 2 June.
The 5-4 decision for a stay came as a shock to the EPA and environmental campaign groups, and was widely seen as a sign that opponents of the power-plant rules have made a strong argument against the plan.
The decision is a setback and a sign that the conservative part of American Society will continue to fight for their right to burn coal and ignore the damage it is causing to the environment. But the set back is not a permanent one.
The second example is from Australia where the Liberal Government has chosen to respond to the international acceptance that climate change is occurring by not researching the subject any more. I kid you not.
CSIRO has decided to get rid of its climate change scientists. 350 of them.
Suggestions that other Australian institutions could take over the work have been derided and Australia’s Chief Scientist has complained that he did not know about the changes until they were announced.
in Australia the decision has been panned. For instance John Birmingham in the Brisbane Times got stuck in:
The cuts announced to the CSIRO divisions concerned with studying our oceans and monitoring the climate of Antarctica are not simply damaging.
They will destroy the nation’s ability to critically analyse the deep changes wrenching those environments and climate systems into something new and ultimately threatening.
It would be hyperbole to say the cuts will reduce our climate science to the crude and primitive levels of Lieutenant Dawes tenure at Observatory Hill [during the late 18th century].
But it would not be a stretch to imagine Dawes himself appalled and struck dumb by the shortsightedness, the arrogance and even the wilful stupidity of people who have been gifted so much by the scientists who came before them, only to cast that bounty to the wind with a shrug and a collective, “Meh. Whatevs.”
The reported statement by the CSIRO boss, Larry Marshall, that the science of climate change was settled and that “cuts to Australia’s decades-long monitoring of the changing climate were appropriate” was astounding.
They’ll be roaring with laughter around the board table at Big Oil as they light themselves another fistful of stogies and wonder whether whether they can afford their own cutbacks to all of the pseudoscientific climate change denier foundations and institutes they’ve been funding for years.
The International response has also been scathing. From the Guardian:
More than 600 climate scientists from around the world have signed a letter to the Australian government protesting against the cuts to climate research at the CSIRO, calling for the lost capabilities to be re-housed elsewhere.
As the letter circulates building signatures, Australian scientists gathering at the country’s largest climate conference in Melbourne made a similar call.
Jean Palutikof, who is director of national climate change adaptation research facility at Griffith University, said the CSIRO strategy of focusing on how Asutralia should adapt to and mitigate climate change, without studying what those changes were, was illogical.
“Headless chickens comes to mind,” said Palutikof, who has worked with the UN on climate change adaptation. “How can you understand what you have to do if you don’t understand what you’re adapting to?”
COP21 may have given the climate change movement some momentum and given the issue some urgency. But do not underestimate the desire of conservative forces to do whatever they can to prevent urgent action from being taken.