Despite the overwhelming evidence
that the effects of climate change are having a devastating impact on
present and future Australia, Kirsten Tona reports that the Abbott Government continues to ignore the evidence.
By 2070, Australia’s average temperature will rise by anything up to
five degrees Celsius, our rainfall will be significantly lower and our
sea levels higher. This data comes from the CSIRO, not from
the-sky-is-falling conspiracy theorists, so …. why is the Australian
Government not preparing?
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 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 cm during the 20th century, and are projected to keep rising, as are ocean acidity levels.
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 use 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°
within 50 years, if carbon emmissions are brought under control, soon.
The worst projections say average temperatures in Australia will rise by 5° 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 in partnership with the Department of Climate
Change and Energy Efficiency, through the Australian Climate Change
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 & 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 is in Lima trying to defend her party’s policies on climate change.
There is some controversy around her attendance at this, 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
It is said that Julie 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
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
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
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 do not think there is no consensus on the science of
climate change. The CSIRO think 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.
This article was first published on Newpolitics.com.au as Government ignoring climate change while the planet burns and has been reproduced with permission.