Death, denial and the toxic politics of climate change

5 04 2014

If you are not aware of the IPCC’s latest notoriously conservative warnings of the consequences of Climate Change, you are truly asleep at the wheel. Like out Prime Moronster, Tony Abbott, whose response to this report isn’t to announce a new climate policy that will actually create some steps towards reducing carbon emissions, but to instead take the opportunity to reinforce his existing discredited Direct Action policy, and attack the former Labor government’s carbon price……

palmergarnautThen we have Clive Palmer, in a televised debate with Ross Garnaut (now there’s a battle of intellects…) in which he said “scientists should be focusing on the 97 per cent of carbon dioxide that comes from nature”.  This guy not only votes, he’s a parliamentarian…!  What morons elected this moron?  How on Earth do we end up in this state of utter stupidity…?

The impacts of climate change are “severe, pervasive and irreversible” says the latest assessment from the IPCC. Global energy policy is directly responsible for growing risks around water and food security, species loss, ocean acidification and violent conflict.  In the words of US Secretary of State John Kerry (and he would know, right?), the cost of inaction is “catastrophic”.

Despite the unequivocal warnings, current economic priorities continue to trump global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The IMF estimates that ‘poor countries’ need $100 billion to offset the effects of climate change, yet this figure was removed from the policymakers’ IPCC summary at the last minute due to lobbying by richer nations afraid/incapable of footing the bill.  Oil and gas giant Exxon Mobil thinks it has nothing to worry about: in a report to shareholders the company claimed emissions reductions of 80 percent by 2050 were “highly unlikely”, and denied any of its reserves would end up as unburnable ‘stranded assets’.  Hah!  Who are they trying to kid…?  Oh yeah, the idiot shareholders who should have divested by now…

This contradiction is also apparent in UK energy policy.  On the one hand the Prime Minister sees climate change as man-made and “one of the most serious threats that this country and this world faces”, while on the other the possibility of a new fossil fuel boom based on shale gas appears to be politically irresistible.  The latest argument for fracking is greater energy independence from Russia – David Cameron described tensions over Ukraine as a “wake up call” and sees fracking as a “duty”. Well I guess freezing to death in the UK won’t be a lot of fun….

Europe’s dependence on Russian gas, in the light of the Ukraine crisis, was high on the agenda during Obama’s visit to Europe last week.  The President was hinting at the possibility of lifting US oil and gas export restrictions, in place since the 1970s.  Not sure where they’ll find this oil and gas, his support was, however, linked to the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal currently under negotiation between the US and the EU, a deal which aims to remove the regulatory differences between the US and European nations. If approved, such a deal would weaken European environmental regulations, while also handing corporations even greater powers to challenge national governments over measures including climate legislation and fracking regulations.  Australia is also under this threat with Abbott keen to sign the TPP.

Humans are deeply in denial about death.  They express this denial with distractions like consumerism or obsessively following their favourite footy team.  So is that why we’re standing on the edge of the climate change cliff?  About to jump like the proverbial lemmings…. too busy shopping or fixating over the EV’s latest blow-out.  Commentators, myself included, often put forward that it’s we ordinary people, with our self-absorption and resistance to change, who are the prime culprits in the world’s failure to act against climate catastrophe…

But is that really the case?

luckycountryBy focusing on the alleged failure of ‘ordinary people’ to tackle climate change, we take our eyes off the real culprits behind the drapes — the fossil fuel industry and arse licking governments, the best example being the one in Canberra.  ‘Big Fossil’ is the wealthiest and most powerful lobby in world history.  Any really serious attempt to tackle climate change would involve it giving up future profits that are potentially staggering.  Except that, as we know here, they are slowly but surely going broke as the cost of extraction climbs faster than revenues….  The failure of leadership is everywhere.

It’s a demonic bit of bad luck that, at this crucial moment in history, with time running out on the climate change clock, the world community is stuck with an aggressively moronic government in Canberra, whose crass loyalty to Big Coal has made Australia part of the obstruction process.

Abbott’s government, with the assistance of the WA and Queensland state governments, has undermined international climate negotiations, gutted Australia’s environmental review process, targeted environmental groups with harassing audits and championed unrestrained coal development.  Do we actually deserve the government ‘we’ elected….?