When the last tree is cut, the last river poisoned, and the last fish dead, we will discover that we can’t eat money.
Like most non-scientists I defer to science, which is derived from the Latin “scientia” meaning knowledge. So when serious groups of scientists join together, almost unanimously (97.1 per cent), and tell us that the earth’s climate is changing, for the worse, I believe them.
When I do so I expect that I am not alone. I do not fear a conspiracy wherein all the climate scientists have forged an unholy alliance, and are busy buying shares in renewable energy companies. I cannot understand much of the science, but I know that insurance companies worldwide accept that sea levels are rising. I know the Arctic is losing ice at an alarming rate, and that the average temperatures in Australia are going up, year on year.
Similarly to the tobacco industry in the past, energy companies have been sitting on the fact of climate change for years, for profit. So when I am faced with what appears to be a looming catastrophe I turn to my government for solutions.
They have, almost universally, failed me. As far as I can remember, Julia Gillard is the only leader this country has had who actually put a price on carbon, which is believed to be the most effective method of reducing carbon use.
Let us look at the others:
John Howard: “…I instinctively feel that some of the claims are exaggerated.”
Kevin Rudd: “the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time”. That was before he retreated from the challenge.
Tony Abbott: His description of the relevant science in 2009: “absolute crap”?
Malcolm Turnbull: Has been rolled as leader of the Liberal Party twice because he is a believer in the science, but allowed the climate science deniers to dictate policy.
Scott Morrison: Considering he has come to power twelve years after John Howard left office, he has had time to become informed about climate change, and as a marketing person he is aware of the concerns held by a majority of Australians. Even those who voted for the Coalition recently believe in climate change. So you would expect his choices for ministerial office in this challenging, and to some existentially so, areas of concern, would be appropriately focussed and committed to searching for solutions.
Not so. Angus Taylor is a climate science denialist, and a self-described believer in renewables, as long as they are not powered by wind. That is because his grandfather worked on the Snowy scheme, apparently. We suspect his attitude to water buy-backs is favourable, because they are so, so profitable. He is also in favour of coal powered power stations, and against electric cars.
Sussan Ley is the new Environment Minister. She has stated that she will be an environmentalist as the Minister. Her first thought is that nature has got spare water hanging about, and so farmers should be allowed to ‘borrow’ it for farming, as long as they pay it back. I would say tell that to the millions of fish which died over summer in the Murray-Darling basin.
Scott Morrison has chosen these two as his front line defence against environmental degradation and climate change. I consider the choices to be disgraceful, and contemptuous in the extreme, when he well knows the overwhelming desire of Australians to ‘do something’ for the environment, and also to pull our weight internationally.
If and when the full effects of global heating become evident, where will these people hide? I for one, want my government to do the decent, sensible thing, follow the expert advice, and deliver solutions. But what we get is smoke and mirrors, and a bunch of old white people in power, too blinded by their own importance to heed the will of the people.
The day after Bob Hawke’s memorial service, we discover just how degraded the political system has become, where no side has the courage to act on our behalf.
Mark Buckley is a Melbourne writer.