Crikey readers talk why Abbott must act now on climate change.
Climate change cannot be ignored
Roger Richards writes: Re. “Abbott and Harper renew a blinkered coalition of denialism” (yesterday). The problem for Abbott is not merely his apparently genetic disposition to dismiss climate change, nor his party’s strong financial links with fossil fuel industries and businesses opposed to regulation of any sort. It’s an inability to understand the linkages that mean climate change pervades the biggest issues facing Australia and isn’t some separate matter, like saving koalas, that can be dumped into a box and ignored. The global insurance and reinsurance industries are already dealing with a huge increase in insured losses due to extreme weather events since 1980. Unlike Canada, Australia’s geography and climate means it will be hard hit by climate change in coming decades — while trying to cope with an ageing population at the same time — driving up prices, depressing economic and jobs growth, increasing pressure on infrastructure. For the sake of its future economy, Australia desperately needs global action to bring global warming under control. For the Abbott government, however, future generations are only thought about when they provide a reason to cut spending, not address a far bigger economic threat than government debt.
Climate change is also a national security issue. If other older conservative males can’t cope with the idea of climate change, America’s military brass have no difficulty. The Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review of March this year warned that climate change would increase the cost of future operations and increase the threat faced by the US:
“Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large … The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world. These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions — conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.”
Australia has its own version of exactly the same problem, as climate change begins to affect the small island states of the South Pacific — initially economically and then, eventually, so severely that whole states will have to be abandoned — and there’s nowhere else for their citizens to come but Australia and New Zealand.
One of the great successes of opponents of first, environmental action and now, climate action, has been to frame action to protect the environment as incompatible with economic growth — that environmental protection is a kind of luxury good only available at times of great prosperity. As the economic and national security implications of climate change are increasingly demonstrating, that framing is not merely a political device used by business interests, but it’s one that blinkers those who use it.
For Harper, Abbott and the fossil fuel interests that support them, preventing climate change is at best a kind of luxury good beyond our budget. But other leaders have begun realising that it is deeply connected to the biggest challenges they face.
Peter Matters writes: It has been obvious since well before the 2013 election that due the combination of emotional immaturity and a mind hard-wired to the 19th century, Abbott is unfit for his position and is causing Australia untold harm.
It is now the Senate’s foremost responsibility to our country to remove the Abbott government by refusing to pass or delay by filibustering every submission other than supply in order to force a double dissolution.