Crikey Says

Feb 17, 2014

Crikey says: leadership on climate change impacts

Tony Abbott has been caught on Australia's spy activities. Ben Sandilands on Virgin's role in the Qantas saga. The ongoing Indonesian fallout. What's really holding back productivity. Do art and the people who run detention centres mix? Our handy guide to the phone hacking prosecution so far. Plus the unthinkable: adding water to Australian wine.

United States Secretary of State John Kerry goes to Indonesia and delivers a powerful warning:
"Because of climate change, it's no secret that today Indonesia is ... one of the most vulnerable countries on earth. It's not an exaggeration to say that the entire way of life that you live and love is at risk ... "Think about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It doesn't keep us safe if the United States secures its nuclear arsenal while other countries fail to prevent theirs from falling into the hands of terrorists. The bottom line is this: it is the same thing with climate change. In a sense, climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps even the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction. "Terrorism, epidemics, poverty, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction: all challenges that know no borders. The reality is that climate change ranks right up there with every single one of them."
Australia's Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, goes bush -- to regions devastated by worsening drought -- and stands on bone-dry fields among dead cattle and broke farmers. He is not asked about the impact of climate change. And he doesn't once address it.

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15 thoughts on “Crikey says: leadership on climate change impacts

  1. macadamia man

    Peter Hannam in the SMH Feb 16 reports the PM saying it’s an “unprecedented drought”. That’s pretty explicitly climate change-related isn’t it?:

    Despite today’s good soaking rains “it doesn’t mean the drought is over”, Mr Abbott said. “We are close to finalising a drought package which will address the economic and social needs of the people of rural and regional Australia that have been significantly affected. The package will be “both fair and economically responsible,” the Prime Minister said. “For people on the land, a severe drought is akin to a natural disaster.” Just as Australia has arrangements in place to assist with natural disasters, the government should have assistance for those dealing with “very severe and unprecedented drought“.

  2. Malcolm Street

    He indirectly addresses climate change.

    He says the problems of the farmers are exacerbated by the carbon tax, so we’ll get rid of it!

  3. Mark Duffett

    Presumably Abbott wasn’t asked about climate change because the answer is so predictable – ‘Australia has always had droughts, this one isn’t particularly prolonged, intense or widespread,’, etc. Going through these motions will not achieve anything other than further entrenching existing opinions on climate issues. Sadly, it’s going to take truly exceptional events (i.e. droughts/heat waves/fires that are unprecedentedly sustained, acute, frequent or extensive) to shift opinions sufficiently to translate to significant policy action.

  4. Mark Duffett

    The most intense red shaded areas will have to join up and advance a fair bit further before getting most people’s attention:

  5. Tamas Calderwood

    Scary stuff. Still, at least there hasn’t actually been any global warming for 16 years!

  6. AR

    TT cannot address two realities – (a) the vast majority of Oz is not the Home Counties and cannot be “farmed” (aka soil mining)as if it were and no agricultural/grazing activity should take place in the Western Division of NSW or north of the Gouder Line in SA and (b)climate change is going to make him address (a) see above.
    Congratulations to Duffer – you didn’t mention nukes as the solve all… yet.

  7. graybul

    The PM clearly differentiates between Climate (not Climate Change), impacting agricultural self employed . . and employees no longer required. He declares draught unprecedented and expedites provision of assistance for self employed farmers (as he should). Whilst stepping back from Manufacturing Sector declaring job losses inevitable; PM response to thousands of employees is . . your next job will be far better than your last, and offers “Work for the Dole”?!!

  8. Electric Lardyland

    Well said, Crikey.
    I’ll try to be brief on this one, as it could easily degenerate into a very long rant.
    Perhaps the best place to start, is to say that while I’m an atheist, I do quite appreciate Dante’s concept of special circles of Hell. It was definitely something that entered my mind while watching the Abbott and Joyce show grandstanding through what’s left of the bush. I mean, surely there should be some special form of punishment for people who, despite now almost forty years of warning on the effects of climate change, still use the power of office to fast track the production and flogging off of fossil fuels. And these denialist policies are made even more egregious, by the fact that both of them, especially Abbott, constantly look down the barrel of the camera and mouth the lie, “Yes, we believe in the science of climate change”.
    Yet, this alleged government, constantly makes policies that loudly suggest that the exact opposite is true. Abbot Point anyone?
    And the egregiousness level is magnified, when these two maintain a bromance through land that has been ravaged by climate change intensified drought, and no one in our brave media pack, even thinks about asking a question like, ‘You know, if you actually believe in the science of climate change, shouldn’t you maybe not be doing all that you possibly can to aid and abet the digging of coal out of the ground?’

    Grrr. I can feel a rant coming on, better stop now!

  9. @chrispydog

    When does a natural disaster morph into an ‘unnatural’ one? And when will the likes of Tony Abbott and the rest of the ostrich farm take their collective heads out of the dessicated desert sands to recognise that low frequency events have become, in fact, high frequency ones?

    Or to put it another way, just how long is that famous Egyptian river, ‘denial’?

    We’re into absurdist territory here folks, and we’re collectively going to cough up yet more money to keep a few people (salt of the earth, honest working families etc etc) in endless denial that farming on more and more marginal land is ever going to be a sensible thing.

    The inexorable reality will bat last, however in the meantime, we’ll pay to pretend we can beat what’s coming.

    We cannot.

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