As I said in an update here yesterday:
We have had Tony Abbott being, it appears, certain that the recent – and ongoing – bushfires here in NSW are NOT related to climate change, which seems to me as problematic as being certain that they ARE! As you know, I said above that “I accept the logic by which an outcome of the climate change that is now 95% surely happening is longer and more severe bushfire seasons in our part of the world.” I still find that a perfectly reasonable proposition, and I am not saying that climate change CAUSED the current fires – just that this is the sort of thing that follows from the generally agreed fact of climate change. See UN official ‘talking out of her hat’ on bushfires and climate change, says Tony Abbott. Later Greg Hunt copped some flack for citing Wikipedia.
Well I acknowledge that one of the “several lists of major bushfires in Eastern Australia since 1851” is on Wikipedia, so I guess I can’t mock Greg Hunt too much on that ground.
Tandberg in The Sydney Morning Herald:
But it isn’t a good look, and his BBC interview didn’t go all that well – especially as Mr Hunt is usually such a mild-mannered person. Perhaps having to endorse inferior policies gets to him deep down!
A couple of comment pieces from the ABC. Referring to what I have called the Abbott Government’s fondness for mushroom management, Barrie Cassidy asks How long can the ministerial sound of silence last?
While some might be enjoying the break, the political class will eventually claim back their relevance. More to the point, the public deserves better.
All governments, and all ministers, should be accountable to the public through the media.
The Abbott Government is entitled, and indeed smart, to wind back the media focus. But not to the point where routine scrutiny is almost impossible.
In the meantime, we are seeing examples in the rare interviews that are getting through of why the Abbott Government prefers to limit them.
The Environment Minister Greg Hunt went offshore to the BBC to argue he had verified on Wikipedia that climate change has not caused bushfires.
The reliability of that source was obvious the same day when somebody altered his Wikipedia profile to say: “Since the 2013 election … he (Hunt) has already proven to be terrible at his job.”
Then Tony Abbott used an interview on 3AW to say the head of the United Nations climate change negotiations was “talking through her hat” by suggesting a link between bushfires and climate change.
Whatever the cause of the current NSW fires – and to be fair they range from child arsonists to the army – it is a stretch to argue that warmer temperatures and below average rainfall does not add to the risk of fires more generally.
Also well worth thinking about is this piece by Marcus Priest, who was on The Drum last night.
…when the millennial drought ended and public concern swung to the impact of the Global Financial Crisis, a great deal of the public momentum to introduce carbon pricing fell away.
After this time, other major weather events – the 2009 Victorian bushfires and the Queensland floods – failed to stir the same public opinion, so highlighting the dangers of basing a campaign on long-term climate change simply on short-term weather events.
Another of the problems of the climate change debate over the past 10 years has been how otherwise intelligent people become more and more entrenched in their climate scepticism as more and more scientific information about the likelihood of damaging climate change becomes available.
It is the most curious paradoxes of the whole debate. There is a seeming contradiction in the fact that those arguing most fervently against a market based mechanism to tackle climate change are those who otherwise believe markets are the best and most efficient way of dealing with social and economic issues.
In the United States, there is an increasing body of academic research that political ideology – and in particular conservative or free marketeer – is a major factor preventing acceptance of climate science.
One US study found individuals’ worldviews explained individuals’ beliefs about global warming more fully than any other individual characteristic; so-called “hierarchs” and individualists tend to dismiss the claim that global warming is occurring and is serious threat to our society due to the belief it would lead to a redistribution of resources, whereas egalitarians and communitarians take the opposite view.
Further, it found with increasing levels of scientific literacy, liberals (“egalitarian communitarians”) and conservatives (“hierarchical individualists”) become more polarised over global warming.
However, the same research showed people who endorsed free-market economic principles become less hostile when they are presented with policy responses that do not seem to be as threatening to their world view, such as geo-engineering or nuclear engineering…
Well anyway, as a break from Wikipedia, let’s look at some rather good things on YouTube – where of course there is also perhaps rather more nonsense… I begin with the undeniably brilliant: