Yesterday Clive Hamilton asked: Is parliamentary democracy capable of responding adequately to climate change? He concluded that yes it was, but in Australia’s case, it certainly wouldn’t. The discussion has run wild one on the website and in our inbox. Here’s a snapshot of reader’s thoughts:

Simon Mansfield writes: Let’s take Clive Hamilton at face value and ask him does he really think that the democratically elected parliament of Australia is incapable of dealing with a complex issue such as climate change. Or is he just unhappy that the democratic process is resulting in a policy compromise — that he does not agree with.

If it is the latter, then Clive is welcome to disagree all he wants with the current policy and campaign for a different policy in the future that is agreed to within the democratic process. But let’s also take a look under the hood and de-construct Clive’s little homily about democracy and climate change.

My guess is that for many people reading these comments the sentiment simply reinforces a growing feeling that the Greens and fellow travellers like Clive Hamilton are crypto fascists whose only commitment to democracy is when it is serving their interests. The minute it fails to deliver what they want they begin to muse about a non democratic response to what they see as a bet-the-civilization issue.

All across Australia this same fascistic sentiment is appearing more and more among Green propaganda and their policies.

The basic line is that the rest of us humans are too stupid to know what is good for us, and therefore we should surrender the democratic processes to the New Green Army whose leaders know best, and for whom their followers are only too happy to put on their green shoes and stomp over the rest of us — should we not surrender to the Forces of Gaia.

Our can anyone be taken seriously who questions the capacity of Australian democracy to deal with complex issues be they Climate Change, health care or whatever.

Meanwhile, on the website:

Mark Duffett writes: Malcolm Turnbull can take responsibility for the future of the world? Come on Clive, I could take all this more seriously if you at least acknowledged the reality that the greatest impact Australia can have on climate is, at best, some small influence on the outcome at Copenhagen.

Robert Mutton writes: Congratulations Clive Hamilton. This is one of the best summaries of the totally pathetic political approach to the greatest disaster the world has ever faced. Rudd and Turnbull — either get moving on a genuine approach to climate change or get out of the way.

Richard Wilson writes: How dare a few jumped up globalist economist lackeys capitalise the planet as if it belonged to some elite group! I am furious about this. The public should now be aware of this game. To place a value on everything under the sun and then tax people or charge rental accordingly. Water resources are being snapped up at an alarming rate as are all natural resources and we are sitting here letting it happen while contemplating Idol #41. We are heading towards serfdom on this sad planet. Got me!

Evan Beaver writes: I liked this article too. Good to see you fired up Clive. I don’t fully agree with the content though. At the moment, there’s no way a “Greener” scheme would go through. As we all know, for the bill to pass, either the Libs or Greens/XenoFielding need to pass the bill. The Libs won’t back anything, including their leader. Fielding is for some reason totally sceptical about the science, despite absolutely no qualifications in the area. So we’re knackered. Doesn’t matter if the Greens are on side, bloody Fielding can block the whole thing. Bring on the Double Dissolution!

Jim Reiher writes: The argument that Australia only contributes a bit less than 2% of the carbon being released into the atmosphere, has been used by many. “It is so little. If we fight against climate change, we will only cost ourselves some pain, and the world will not see any real gain.” But such a line of reasoning is mistaken in a number of ways.

  1. If we count all the coal and gas and timber we are sending to China and India and other locations around the world – then our contribution to the total world’s carbon emissions is greater.
  2. Even if it were only 1.5% … even then, we can have no say in the world if we ask other nations to do that which we will not do ourselves. That is phoney, shallow, and hypocritical. No one could take us seriously.

We need to lead by example. The best leaders do that. They don’t just talk and pretend to care. They roll their sleeves up and jump in and do what they know needs to be done. We can lecture China and India and pretend that they have to lead the way. But we rich western countries that have made so much wealth out of polluting the world, need to be willing to make some sacrifices to lead the way to a better world. To call on developing nations to NOT do what we have done, and then for us to keep on doing the polluting we now want them NOT to do … well … you would think it was just a bad joke.

Keith Thomas writes: Clive will see from the above what Bob Brown already knows: some Australians have a kneejerk mistrust and even hate for them. Rather than getting bogged down in the labyrinthine details of Australia’s CPRS let’s consider Clive’s opening question: “Is parliamentary democracy capable of responding adequately to the climate crisis?” And let’s not have a knee-jerk reaction to that question. Clive’s own answer is almost self-contradictory: “Our democratic system is capable of responding to the enormity of climate change, but it almost certainly will not.”

I can’t share his optimism. In democracy as we practice it in 2009, leaders aim first for short-term popularity and celebrity within the wholly human subset of affairs preoccupying people at election time rather than what is best for the health and well-being of the entire biosphere over the long term. These two are irrevocably and fundamentally irreconcilable. Mankind’s unquenchable desire for indulgence and ease means that humanity will choose to destroy the environment rather than sacrifice comfort and convenience and the opportunity to cry “Narney, narney, ner-ner!”

Joel Brooks writes: So Australia only contributes 1.5% of the worlds carbon emissions therefore we might as well not do anything much at all because it won’t make a difference anyway?

What a great line of reasoning — I will be informing the ATO that I will not be paying my tax as hey I’m only one 20 millionth of the Australian population so what difference will it make anyway? Somehow I think Barnaby Joyce and Wilson Tuckey would have something to say about that.

I am gratified by predictions that the next federal election will seek an influx of Green MPs and am confident that my vote and the votes of people like me will serve as a wakeup call to the govt and the liberal party to get their houses in order — or get out!

Nadia David writes: The big question I keep asking myself is, what can we do? Other than leave the sceptics to squabble amongst themselves (we’ll get back to you guys in 20 years — you can admit your idiocy then and beg to be allowed on the raft we’re all living on by then), how do we get through to the arrogant fools apparently running this show? Rudd and Wong have made it patently clear they want to listen to no-one and Turnbull has made it even clearer he has no idea what’s going on. Perhaps this is the beginning of people consigning government as we know it to irrelevancy. Perhaps this time will be looked back upon as the beginning of the age of direct action. If our own government won’t do what needs to be done, then who will?

Julius writes: The John Adams view of what caution requires sounds sensible enough if you just listen to the words but it needs numbers if it is to be given any real substance. What costs for what benefits? And, to bring it down to hard reality, how many old people would you be happy to know had died of a marginal lowering of temperature in their nursing homes to save money in order to achieve some and environmental outcome? That is just one of a million implicit choices to be made when you arrange to make some people poorer so money can be spent on something you value.

Andrew writes:

  1. Those who do not trust modelling do not seem to appreciate it that climate science does not depend on modelling, but hinges on direct measurements in nature and in the laboratory, as well as the basic principles of physics and chemistry. The modelling is mostly done to explore the role of the various forcings involved in producing the observed results. That the Arctic Sea ice is disappearing fast, sea level rise at 0.35cm/year (more than double that of mid-20th century), the intensity of hurricanes increase, large regions subject to long-term drought, and ocean water warm and acidify are not models but direct observations.
  2. It is not clear whether those who cast overall suspicion on scientists and the scientific method have actually read the basic text books and papers which underlie the work of climate scientists. In so far as they have, they ought to come up with specific questions. No one will be more delighted that climate scientists if they turn out to be wrong and global warming slows down or is reversed.

Peter Fray

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