The last thing we need on climate change is spin

John Boyd writes: Re. “From the brains behind Rhonda and Kevin07, how to sell climate change” (yesterday). The input from all these expert “spinners” is pretty disappointing. They all seem to assume that there is some entity with a real interest in selling the idea, and that it has the resources to engage all those PR experts and production companies to mount serious publicity campaigns. The only people with such resources are large corporations or government. Ha!

The best input so far is from Ian Perkins, and it is true that many farmers have been adjusting to climate change by adopting warmer climate varieties, moving to cooler climes, etc. However, even here, the overwhelming majority of farmers do not accept climate change is happening, and instead refer to natural “climate variability”.

In this approach they would seem to be guided by the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and the NSW Farmers Association (NFA). Neither of these organisations mention the term “global warming” on its website, and they refer to climate change in general terms as some sort of cyclic “climate variability”. even while noting that crops are maturing earlier by weeks or even months than they used to, and some farmers are shifting to varieties more suited to warmer conditions.

A bottom line is emerging. Despite recent rains in some areas, and a few years of favorable La Nina type conditions, the drought continues; the “good times” are not good enough to see us through the “bad times”, which fact suggests a more radical and long term approach is needed than the current approach of short-term financial support for the rural sector.

James Burke writes: The Dark Lords of PR must be laughing themselves silly at the replies to their suggestions of last week for better “marketing” of climate change. We just saw a government go down in flames because it tried to “market” its response to climate change in all the touchy-feely ways recommended by this week’s panel. Positivity, cleaner future, we can all contribute, youth outreach, etc. And the climate change deniers? Ignore them and they’ll go away …

That bloodless effort was easily defeated by a well-funded campaign of ruthless dishonesty and slander. A campaign completely ignored by every one of your advertising gurus, who prefer to blame scientists (or “climate change advocates”) for not understanding how best to “market” their climate change “brand”.

Climate change is a threat to the nation. It’s that simple. As Adam Bandt has said, we need a Churchill on climate change, not a Chamberlain. (Or, as we seem to be cursed with for now, a Mosley.) If a future government wants to take up the fight, it needs to keep the threat in the public mind, even while pushing for solutions. A call to national defence might even resonate with those elderly conservatives. But it will require standing up for truth and the public good, each a deadly toxin to the advertising industry.

Real threats call for real leadership, not (yet more) spin.

Don’t telegraph your punches

Terry Mills writes: Re. “Sorry, but free trade agreements are duds, no matter how ‘nuanced’” (yesterday). For an ex-pugilist Tony Abbott should know the value of not telegraphing your punches.

To make it known to one and all that you were committed to signing free-trade agreemtns with our Asian neighbours in your first year in office definitely gives your negotiating partner an edge. They know that if they hang on long enough you will capitulate, as you have an electorate who are closely watching you match your commitment with action.

So you get a tariff reduction on beef exports to Japan that currently stands at 38.5% and will reduce, over 15 years, to 19%: not a good outcome, guys.

Think of the grandchildren

David Whittingham writes: Re. “Essential: over-55s climate deniers, everyone hates Direct Action” (yesterday). How short-sighted of us oldies. Over-55s don’t believe in climate change, apparently because they won’t be around to see its worst effects, according to polling by Essential Research. My wife and I, at 76 and 68 respectively, are extremely worried about it and the blinkered way people won’t do anything about it. Don’t these people have grandchildren?

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey