I’ve been very busy with asset sales, the problems of the Murray-Darling Basin, my still-in-progress book and other commitments too numerous to list, with the result that I’ve had no time to comment on the spectacular events in the climate change debate. But it’s finally too much to ignore.
I’ve long pointed out the “parallel universe” nature of the discussion that goes on under the name of “scepticism”. Over the last couple of days, that parallel universe has collided with the universe of Australian practical politics, with catastrophic results for Malcolm Turnbull in particular.
The timing is particularly galling for the delusionists who are uniformly convinced that the University of East Anglia emails they have stolen and promulgated prove beyond doubt … well, something sinister. Surely, they think, this will persuade the weak-kneed Liberals to stop while we hold a full inquiry. Following the analogy of Newtongate it’s as if, just as the vorticists had found the crucial ‘smoking gun’, a letter exposing Newton’s use of hired thugs to beat up Cartesian critics, they looked out from their shiny new antigravity machine and realised that some very hard ground was approaching them at a speed of hundreds of metres per second.
For Kevin Rudd, the effect is a free gift of Master of the (Australian political) universe. Counting Costello, Turnbull is the fourth Liberal leader he’s destroyed in the space of exactly two years. It’s hard to imagine a better outcome than facing an opponent who could barely beat “None of the above” in a ballot of his own party and is in place only because no one else wants the job. And when Turnbull finally goes, the likelihood that either Joe Hockey or Tony Abbott is going to provide a serious challenge seems close to zero. Whether as supporters or opponents of the leaders, the fruit loops are running wild now, and unlikely to be reined in.
But in the actual physical universe the results aren’t so good for the Australian public or for out contribution to stabilizing the global climate. The combined efforts of rentseekers and delusionists have ensured that, assuming the Senate finally ratifies the Rudd-Turnbull deal, we’ll have a CPRS that is both far more expensive and far less effective than it should have been. It’s still, I think better than nothing, but it’s a deplorable outcome to an unedifying process.