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Richard Farmer’s chunky bits: climate change caring on the wane

The Australian Bureau of Statistics this morning reported a marked decline in the concern of Australians about climate change. Plus other political news, including the top 25 most influential female voices in Australia.

Richard Farmer

Crikey political commentator

Concern about climate change in steep decline. The Australian Bureau of Statistics this morning reported a marked decline in the concern of Australians about climate change. The Bureau’s Environmental Views and Behaviour Survey shows that at a a national level, concern about climate change has decreased from 73% of people in 2007-08 to 57% in 2011-12. A higher proportion of people living in the Australian Capital Territory (67%), Tasmania (63%) and Western Australia (62%) were concerned about climate change compared with other states and territories.

Climate change is only one area where concerns and attitudes to the environment have shifted over the past few years. In 2011–12, 62% of people aged 18 years and over were concerned about environmental problems in general in Australia compared with 82% in 2007–08. This general decline coincided with a decline in concern about water shortages (89% in 2007–08 compared with 64% in 2011–12) and an increased proportion of Australians who thought the condition of the natural environment — up to 50% in 2011–12 from 29% in 2007–08.

A ticking Arctic carbon bomb. New field studies presented this week at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union suggest that the amount of carbon locked in the Arctic’s vast expanse of frozen soil is greater than previously thought. Meanwhile, reports Science Now, a new analysis of laboratory experiments that simulate carbon release by thawed soil is bolstering worries that continued carbon emissions could unleash a massive Arctic carbon wallop.

Influential women — where’s Fran? I notice that the Prime Minister has a broader definition of influential women than do Sydney Morning Herald readers. Elsewhere in Crikey today there’s a description of drinks at Kirribilli given by Julia Gillard for female writers and commentators representing a range of different interests. On page one of The SMH this morning those chosen as the women of influence are a vastly different and, dare I write it, narrower selection.

Now I can understand why Granny Herald’s lot would include representatives from the ABC and exclude those from the commercial television they pretend not to watch; and putting a couple of Labor government ministers as well as the PM in the top 20 while leaving out Julie Bishop is probably a fair measure of the political views of those taking part in this survey. But what I cannot understand is the absence of radio national breakfast presenter Fran Kelly.

A Berlusconi update. From the London Daily Telegraph website this morning:

From the Crikey website commenting on a snippet yesterday:

duncan stephens

Silvio Berlusconi is indeed a buffoon — however that clip, which did the rounds a few years ago, is from a German satire programme (no, not a contradiction) and does not feature the real Berlusconi.

Some thoughts on legislation and freedom of speech.

From the UK, Lord Dear, a crossbench member of the House of Lords and a former chief constable of West Midlands and HM Inspector of Constabulary, on being convicted for saying “woof” to a dog:

In 2009 the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) observed: “Whilst arresting a protester for using ‘threatening or abusive’ speech may, depending on the circumstances, be a proportionate response, we do not think that language or behaviour which is merely ‘insulting’ should ever be criminalised in this way.” …

The comedian and a fellow campaigner for reform, Rowan Atkinson, recently summed up the difficulties posed by the inclusion of the term ‘insulting’ in the Act. He warned that, under Section 5, criticism, unfavourable comparison or ‘merely stating an alternative point of view’ can be interpreted as an insult and lead to arrest.

The law, in its current form, has been used to arrest gay activists, Christian preachers and a student who called a police horse ‘gay’. A critic of Scientology was summoned under Section 5. And a young man who said ‘woof’ to a dog was actually convicted, although a court later cleared him. There must be something wrong with a law that can be used by police, prosecutors and the courts in such an excessively broad way.

Not a bigoted boxer. UK Conservative MP David Davies moved quickly in using Twitter to counter accusations of bigotry from gay rights activists after he commented during a discussion of legalising gay marriage that “most parents” would prefer to not to have homos-xual children.

News and views noted along the way.

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One thought on “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits: climate change caring on the wane

  1. Mark from Melbourne

    I dont see why you would call Fran Kelly influential. I listen to RN and apart from finding her quite annoyingly superficial at times I dont think she influences the debate much given the ABC’s “balanced” approach…