Between the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, the on-air demolition of Martin Durkin and, most significantly, John Howard’s self-proclaimed conversion from ‘sceptic’ to ‘realist’ on climate change, I had the impression that delusionism was finally a spent force within the government. It was known that a couple of senior ministers, most notably Ian MacFarlane and Nick Minchin, remained unconvinced, but they seemed willing to keep quiet most of the time. Even the commentariat seemed to be cautiously backing away.
The report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Science and Innovation suggests all this was premature. Four of the six government members of the committee (Dennis Jensen Jackie Kelly, Danna Vale and David Tollner) signed a dissenting report denying that human activities are disturbing the climate in dangerous ways, and describing those who accept the mainstream view as â€œfanaticsâ€?. If this is the view of government members who have chosen to serve on a committee devoted to science, one can only guess at how widespread such ideas are within the government.
I plan a piece for Thursday’s Fin looking at all this. Of course, I’m not going to bother with silly talking points about climate change on Triton. The real question here is how such beliefs can maintain a hold, long after the corporate push behind them has evaporated and at a time when they are so obviously a political albatross for the Howard government and for the political right as a whole. The right (at least in Australia and the US) has entered the kind of self-reinforcing pattern of disconnection from reality that long characterised the Marxist left.