ANDREW GLIKSON. Parliament and the media cover up the looming climate crisis

Sometimes it is what is not mentioned, or little-mentioned, rather than widely discussed, which tells the story.

The Section 44’s citizenship issue and the marriage equality issue have recently dominated the Federal Parliament. However, with a few exceptions, the looming global warming crisis, to which Australia is contributing over four percent of global greenhouse gas emissions (including coal and gas exports), is hardly mentioned in Parliament and is markedly subdued in the media.

This is surprising when CO2 emissions are accelerating at 2 to 3 parts per million per year, and global heating and mean global temperatures have reached 1.3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels (NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, 2017). These changes have produced a spate of extreme hurricanes (cf. Caribbean, Texas, Florida, Philippines, Fiji) wildfires (cf. southern Europe, California) and floods (Pakistan, China) around the world .

Despite an ongoing campaign of untruths by climate denial lobbies, the world’s leading climate research organizations (NASA, NOAA, NSIDC, Berkeley Earth, Potsdam Climate Impacts, Hadley-Met, Tindale, CSIRO, BOM) have confirmed current trends toward a world of +2 degrees Celsius and +4 degrees Celsius above mean pre-industrial temperatures.

According to leading authorities in climate science, including Hans Schellnhuber (Germany’s chief climate change adviser), James Hansen (NASA’s former chief climate scientist) and others, at +4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, large parts of the world will become uninhabitable, due to extreme weather events and rising sea levels inundating coastal regions and low river valleys.

But the silence of the political classes is hardly surprising, given both major parties support, or at least tacitly support, coal mining, and coal and gas export. Thus: “Bill Shorten told reporters on Monday that, if the Adani project cleared all the regulatory hurdles, ‘then all well and good’”, negating Kevin Rudd’s assertion that climate change is “The greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time”.

Even some Greens appear to regard too much focus on global warming as a vote loser, aiming instead to be a broad-church left-wing party rather than a climate change-focused effort.

To a major extent, these parties are the product of a media in the thrall of the denial syndrome. Thus, even the ABC, when reporting large-scale extreme weather events around the world rarely, if ever, relates them to global warming, which drives increased energy levels in the atmosphere-ocean system, which triggers hurricanes and wildfires.

There is not one climate scientist in the Australian Parliament. The media commonly shuns the views of scientists. For example, the bulk of the mainstream media recently shunned an open letter to the PM signed by 200 scientists and communicated to the press. Further, many progressive journals appear to suffer from “climate fatigue” and regard climate communications as no more than “nuisance value”.

This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.” (T.S. Eliot).

Andrew Glikson is an Earth and paleo-climate scientist at the Australian National University


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6 Responses to ANDREW GLIKSON. Parliament and the media cover up the looming climate crisis

  1. Glenn Tamblyn says:

    “not one climate scientist in the parliament”

    Well sort of yes there is. Greens Senator Janet Rice has a science degree in Meteorology and her partner Penny Whetton (previously Peter who has transitioned) is a for real Climate Scientist – lead author on the regional impacts chapter of past IPCC reports and Nobel Prize winner (with all of the IPCC).

    Although the Greens aren’t talking as much as one would like about climate change, they are the most scientifically literate of the parties. More than 1/2 of them have science degrees.

  2. Garry Platt-Hepworth says:

    Drop the ” looming ” from the title . C.C. is well and truly here .Almost daily manifestations in the form of extreme weather events attest to that . How the media and the polies maintain their obliviousness is truly extraordinary.
    Many people in our modern society sadly rely upon these people to tell them what to think .Consequently the degree of general alarm appropriate to the climate situation is not present .
    Years ago I expected that if emissions were allowed to grow to this point , where the inevitable weather events of this magnitude started to arrive , society would galvanise into action surely .It seems that a giant sledge hammer is necessary . I imagine the Universe will comply .

  3. Val Kay says:

    Social justice and environmental sustainability are not competing aims, and it is both possible and reasonable to address them together.

  4. Andrew says:

    Thanks Greg

    Talk about Nero “fiddling while Rome burns” …

  5. Greg Bailey says:

    Excellent article, Andrew. When Victoria had 14 days over 30 degrees inNovember–a record since statistics had been kept–the BOM did not invoke Climate Change as a possible influence. The media simply reported what the BOM said about clashing pressure systems.

    It is true that the Letters in the Age do often mention Climate Change and mitigation possibilities, but the media are too obsessed with bickering politicians and this hysterical nonsense about Dastyari, a typical creature of the New South Wales right. The level of “political irresponsibility” for the future of this country is now off the scale.

  6. derrida derider says:

    Yep, I’m furious about this. I’ve told my kids to be sure to piss on the graves of our bought-and-paid-for politicians and the sundry other greedy liars responsible – that is, if those graves are not underwater by then.

    Like you I’m frustrated at the Greens too. I am not interested in bringing in the socialist millennium, nor in making the world safe for inner-city street artists. I just want to stop steam-cooking and otherwise vandalising the earth.

    Their focus on what are secondary issues at best is preventing them persuading people on the main issues – in particular, they ought to be getting many more votes in regional areas.

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