Government ignoring climate change while the planet burns
By 2070, Australia’s average temperature will rise by anything up to five degrees Celsius, our rainfall will be lower and our sea levels will be higher. Why is the Australian Government not more prepared for this?
It is a sometimes uncomfortable paradox of democracy that while governments – elected – come and go, much of the real work of the state is done behind the scenes by unelected bureaucrats and institutions.
But, there are times we have reason to be grateful for that. While the current Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, is on record as saying that the arguments behind climate change are “absolute crap”, Australia’s premier scientific body, the CSIRO, has been quietly beavering away, using proven scientific methodologies to produce realistic models of what climate change may look like in our country.
And the news is: hotter, and drier.
Temperatures will go up, rainfall down. Ocean acidity levels will rise, as will the incidence of certain extreme weather events.
Global sea levels rose by about 17 centimetres during the twentieth century, and are projected to keep rising, as are ocean acidity levels. And the recently completed 2014, was the third hottest year on record.
Air and ocean temperatures across Australia are now, on average, almost a degree Celsius warmer than they were in 1910, with most of the warming occurring since 1950. The Climate Change In Australia website uses 24 of the world’s best models to predict what Australia might look like in 2030, 2050 and 2070. The best projections have average temperatures rising by 1–2.5 degrees within 50 years, if carbon emissions are brought under control, soon. The worst projections say average temperatures in Australia will rise by 5 degrees Celsius within 50 years.
Climate change is real, and here to stay.
Climate Change In Australia is an initiative of the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), in partnership with the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, through the Australian Climate Change Science Program.
Governments come and go, and party policy is based on a wide range of political factors; strong scientific research being merely one. Or should we say, occasionally one. But the CSIRO and the BOM have to deal with the evidence. And they have to try, current government and party policy notwithstanding, to educate the public about their findings. To this end, they have produced an unfeted, but extremely useful, set of reports, analyses, even posters. But…who has been educated? Have you seen these projections? Where are the news stories?
How much public money was spent on this very important set of projections, and why are the public not being given these posters, being referred to this website? If you are planning where you and/or your children/grandchildren are going to live in the future, wouldn’t you want to see this?
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has returned from Lima trying to defend her party’s policies on climate change.
There is some controversy around her attendance at Lima, a precursor to a more important conference being held in Paris, at the end of 2015. Reports say that when Bishop first proposed attending the Lima talks, the “prime minister’s office” rejected her request. (“The prime minister’s office” is often, in journalist-speak, used as code for “Peta Credlin”.)
It is said that Bishop was furious about this, and took it to a full meeting of Cabinet, where her attendance was approved. However, “the prime minister’s office” then insisted she only attend the talks under the tutelage of known climate skeptic, Trade Minister Andrew Robb.
Siamese fighting fish
Now it is being widely reported that Peta Credlin and Julie Bishop have had a massive falling-out. (Although, it must be noted, Bishop herself denies this).
But climate change, the melting of the icecaps, rising sea levels, reduced rainfall and global warming are surely too important to be left in the hands of those who would ignore the science in favour of political grandstanding. Or in the hands of their advisors, who frequently concentrate on the sale of the message rather than the predicament of the people. Or…in the hands of the Murdoch press, who are encouraging the populace to blame the alleged rift between Bishop and Credlin on Tony Abbott, no longer, it seems, news.com.au’s blue-eyed boy.
In 2003, George W. Bush, then President of the USA, was advised by notorious Newspeaker Frank Luntz to emphasise the notion that the science of climate change was unsettled, uncertain. Not because it really was uncertain, but because that was what the public already believed.
In a quite shockingly cynical memo, Luntz told Bush Snr: “The scientific debate is closing [against us] but not yet closed. There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science… Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community.”
He wrote: “Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate, and defer to scientists and other experts in the field.”
The CSIRO does not think there is no consensus on the science of climate change. The CSIRO thinks climate change is already happening. So do the Bureau of Meteorology, the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and the Australian Climate Change Science Program. So too, it seems, does Julie Bishop.
But Peta Credlin doesn’t. And if she doesn’t, Tony Abbott doesn’t. And so, our commitment to emission reduction and other important planks in the platform of preparing for continuing climate change, is left in the hands of people who are unelected, or who seem to care a lot more about being elected, than about actually governing.
Tagged absolute crap, Australian politics, climate change, coalition, Daily Telegraph, election 2013, election campaign, energy efficiency, Frank Luntz, George W Bush, hot weather, julie bishop, liberals, lima conference, new politics, Newspoll, peta credlin, politics, Real Solutions For All Australians, sea level rise, tony abbott, tony abbott bad prime minister