“During times of universal deceit telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” (George Orwell)
There was a time when kings and generals would fall on their sword when they were defeated, or when their faith in their god has collapsed. Nowadays leaders (so-called), switching opportunistic chameleon-like positions, would betray their primary duty, the defense of their people, in order to protect or advance their own careers.
Last week, in the midth of devastating drought and bushfires, as the UN climate summit in Madrid commenced and Greta Thunberg denounces world leaders’ “creative PR“, the leader of the opposition, supposed to be “from the left” and “someone born Labor”, but perhaps less than adhering to the “Greatest moral challenge of our generation”, found it an appropriate time to state support for the mining and export of coal.
Another example is that of a former Prime Minister who stated in 2010 “We are as humans conducting a massive science experiment with this planet. It’s the only planet we’ve got…. We know that the consequences of unchecked global warming would be catastrophic“, but a few years later advocated “clean coal”. More recently he described climate change as a national security issue stating “We in Australia, more than many if not most countries, are facing the actual lived experience of climate change”.
The current PM, who made his views about fossil fuels clear by introducing a lump of coal to parliament (“Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared, it won’t hurt you, it’s coal”), has lately revising his stand to: “accepts the link between climate change and an extended fire season”.
When it comes to the media, statement such as “there are no climate change deniers around I can assure you” are difficult to reconcile with the obfuscation and undermining of climate science in the right-wing media.
With exceptions, climate scientists are excluded from the mainstream media and from radio and television panel discussions, where the climate issue is debated by politicians, economists and journalists who all too often lack a thorough understanding of the consequences of physical processes in the Earth system.
It is clear the irreversible climate calamity, on which the future or lack of such depends, has become a political football to opportunistic interests. The powers that be, their corporate backers and media mouthpieces are not telling people that only abrupt cuts to carbon emissions, coupled with effective CO2 down-draw efforts, can prevent extinction of numerous species and of human societies.
Andrew Glikson Earth and climate scientist Australian National University