Far from decrying the government handing $4 million to Danish climate sceptic Bjørn Lomborg to establish a “consensus centre” at a Western Australian university, Crikey welcomes it.

True, as some say, that $4 million could be better used being given to actual scientists to do actual science — perhaps it could be given to the CSIRO, which has been savaged by cuts under both this and the former government. It’s also true that this government has a predilection for funding things that fly in the face of science or even simple rationality — like its quarter-billion dollar school chaplains program that actually kicked out non-religious counsellors from schools.

But really, $4 million is a drop in the ocean of assistance that the government has given big carbon polluters and the resources sector; in the face of the billions of dollars handed to big business via the abolition of the mining tax and the carbon price and the establishment of the sublimely dumb Direct Action program, $4 million is nothing.

And this is for a “consensus centre”. It shows is a brave commitment to moderation and agreement at a time of bitter partisanship and ideological hostility. Consensus is, we agree, crucial. And we can think of some more ways that the government could embrace consensus. It could accept the overwhelming consensus about the reality of anthropogenic climate change and the need for Australia to decarbonise its economy. It could accept the consensus that renewables are the future of energy. It could accept the consensus that wind turbine syndrome exists only in the minds of a handful of cranks. It could accept the consensus that not merely will Direct Action not enable Australia to reach its committed carbon emission reduction targets, but that it’s a colossal waste of money.

Then again, maybe the government only likes consensus when it suits it.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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