Showing posts with label abbott. Show all posts
Showing posts with label abbott. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Going to Work or Staying Alive - which would you chose?

The very excellent Ross Gittins is keeping the spotlight on Australia's shabby climate policies by noting that most economists dismiss them as ineffective and inefficient.

He criticises Tony Abbott for saying he'd never put the environment ahead of the economy and jobs. Gittins says,
This separate-box thinking is like saying you'd never put staying alive ahead of going to work. Lose your life and whether you get to work or not hardly matters.
Economists recognise that the economy is a "wholly owned subsidiary of the environment" as noted by Professor Herman Daly of the University of Maryland.
Gittins spells it out.
The point is, all human activity - all our producing and consuming - depends directly on the natural environment. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the shelters we build and the energy we use all come from the ecosystem that surrounds us.
Why is this hard to understand for political leaders like Tony Abbott? How can he not see that going to work can't happen if you're not alive. The economy can't happen if the environment is trashed.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Chasing Will-O'-The-Wisps

Has Ross Gittins been chasing will-o'-the-wisps? Today, he is full of regret that he has indeed been wasting time while the climate change elephant in the room got bigger and stronger. He concludes today's article:
Did I ever doubt that climate change represented by far the greatest threat to Australia's future economic prosperity? Never. Should I have said this more often, rather than chasing a thousand economic will-o'-the-wisps? Yes.
Oh, yes, Ross, we wanted you to speak up more than you did, even though we enjoyed and appreciated everything you wrote. For me, you're the full monty, nothing less than a National Living Treasure. But still, we wished you would be more forceful about the impacts of climate change. I even wrote you a Twitter message about it, and your gracious reply agreed with me.

Suddenly, I'm seeing a shift in opinion across the whole spectrum of climate change opinion. Everybody is moving to the 'more concerned' end of the spectrum. Not only are deniers becoming harder to find, but mild-moderates, like Ross Gittins and Alan Kohler, are becoming more serious and more vocal.

Perhaps it's the zeitgeist. Or the effects of extreme weather events like Australia's recent floods, fires and heatwaves, or superstorms like Sandy (USA), and super-typhoon Haiyan that devastated the Philippines.

There's no doubt that the efforts of Australia's new conservative government to undo current policies (policies that are already beginning to constrain carbon emissions) are causing the mild-moderates to speak out. Winning three 'Fossil of the Day' awards in the first week of the UN climate talks in Warsaw has also drawn attention to the bizarre policies of this government.

Alan Kohler sums up current government policy succinctly:
In essence, Australia’s LNG export boom and high domestic gas prices will make it very difficult for the Coalition to get re-elected if it sticks to current policies.
So, while deniers have been denying, moderates have mostly ignored the problem and got on with regular activities. Suddenly, things have changed. Abbott has won an election and whipped effective policy out from under us. Now moderates are worried. They realise that regular activities aren't so very important after all. They're distractions – will-o'-the-wisps that vanish in the clear light of day.

I look forward to reading Ross Gittins in the weeks and months ahead. What will it look like when he's no longer chasing will-o'-the-wisps?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Work Makes You Free

Satirising the blatant upside-down statements of Nazi Germany, where the gates to death camps were signposted "Work makes you free", George  Orwell's famous book, "1984" (published in 1949) includes the line, "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength."

The power of the spoken word to contradict actions is nowhere more obvious than in pronouncements of the current Australian government.

In action, the Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, is busily dismantling policies like carbon pricing that has begun to reduce Australia's carbon emissions. He wants to defund renewable energy initiatives and dismantle climate policy advisory bodies. He has already dumped the Climate Commission – an independent body set up to provide reliable and authoritative source of information on climate change, and help inform the debate on this issue of national significance.

His Direct Action alternative policy reverses the widely accepted “polluter pays” policy to “pay the polluter”. It fails to focus on fossil fuels (responsible for three-quarters of Australia’s emissions plus exports), is inequitable, unworkable, limited by the available budget, may encourage inflation and manipulation of abatement cost, and is difficult to quantify. This increases uncertainty and ramps up the potential for political games.

While he takes a wrecking ball to effective policies, he repeats the mantra, "Climate change is real and we should take strong action against it."

What to believe? Words or action?

Few people who entered Auschwitz believed the words over the gate. The activities inside the camp belied those words profoundly.

Similarly, Australians can't believe Greg Hunt's words because they are so dischordant with his actions. He's practising the upside-down communication that leads to nonsensical pronouncements like "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength."

In this case, our ignorance is the Coalition government's strength. That's why they are clamping down on information flows in every way they can. It's much easier to govern an ignorant population.