The circus that is the Liberal National Party was pushed down the Queensland TV news today by bushfires, caused in turn by an unprecedented heat wave. There’s little doubt that the severity of the heat wave is the result of global warming, and that it’s part of a broader pattern. The two events are, of course, linked. The chaos in the LNP reflects the determination of the climate deniers in its ranks to reject any action to reduce greenhouse emissions.
None of these people are acting in good faith, or on the basis of a sceptical assessment of evidence. Without exception, their rejection of climate science and the policies it implies is based on a combination of vested interests zndpursuit of a culture war against “greenies”, “virtue signallers” and anyone who wants to do anything to save the planet. There is literally no evidence that can move them from their position, and they would rather see the planet destroyed than admit their errors.
There’s plenty of blame to go around here, but today I’ll call out Ken O’Dowd, the federal member for Flynn, where the worst fires are burning. Flynn is an advocate of withdrawal from the Paris agreement. He’d rather see his electorate burn than admit that climate change is a reality and that we need action now.
11 thoughts on “Fiddling while Queensland burns”
” … they would rather see the planet destroyed than admit their errors. ” It’s scarcely an original point, but the planet will survive just fine, with a cargo of cockroaches and seaweed. Life survived Snowball Earth. What’s at risk now is human civilisation, and the diversity of life we love in the climatically narrow world to which we are adapted.
Meanwhile, “China Stone thermal coal mine gets coordinator-general approval”. There are more hoops to jump through and it is no certainty to go ahead but why can’t Labor, state and federal, unequivocally rule out any more thermal coal mines for Queensland or Australia? The debate logically has to proceed to that stage. They cannot keep saying “global warming is real and dangerous and by the way we just put the first official rubber stamp on another coal mine”.
They would rather see the planet destroyed, as a place for sustaining human civilization and human life, than admit their errors. The qualifying phrase is clearly what J.Q. meant. Equally clearly, Labor are still straddling the fence. They are not in complete denial as are the LNP, but Labor still wants to have a bet each way. “We want to save the planet but we want to get more coal royalties too.” The facts are that we can’t have both.
At a deeper level, all our parties still have a problem because they can’t admit that saving the planet under the capitalist system is impossible. That’s not how the capitalist system is geared. It’s geared for a kind of quasi-abstract wealth “creation” over real world conservancy. The obverse of this “wealth creation” is real world destruction. Capitalism is geared for endless growth, accelerating consumption, planned obsolescence and the waste of scarce resources rather than for the efficient use and conservation of resources and environment.
All our parties and most of the population would still rather cling to capitalism than admit not just its errors but the impossibility of saving the planet under its system.
It’s a curious position that the LNP have taken. They aren’t really denying the science, certainly not bothering to refute it, but they are just committed to trolling the left over it. They are really trolling the general public. It is a strategy with a fast approaching used-by-date and I can’t see how they can win with it. History will treat them savagely for the immense costs they are burdening future generations with. I wonder if any of them will break ranks as they see the electoral cliff approaching.
At the last election O’Dowd won very narrowly (51:49) thanks to One Nation preferences. (ON got 17% of the primaries.) There was however a relatively big leakage of ON preferences to the Labor candidate and if there’s a slightly bigger leakage next time Flynn will find himself shaking hands with the local Centrelink manager (as a client, not the local MP.)
Flynn might or might not be interested in saving the planet but you can be sure he is interested in saving his job. Whether the electorate agrees with him will be seen next May. The bushfires might change some minds.
I think Australia’s conservative right has painted itself into a corner on climate change. I’m not sure the (so called) moderates of the LNP have sufficient strength of conviction to face down the climate science deniers – or else we would have heard of them by now. Almost the only reliable media partisan support the LNP has comes from ratbags who will turn on them should they turn away from their Doubt, Deny, Delay political line.
Julie Bishop or Tim Wilson very belatedly saying the party needs to compromise on climate change, now, just doesn’t have any air of conviction about it; rather it just brings into focus just how weak and ineffectual and excessively compromising the moderates have been for years. Neither have great track records – Bishop’s textbook defense of climate science deniers comes to mind, conflating spirited criticism of them with imaginary dictatorial PC gone mad, or Wilson’s less than illustrious prior career leading an organisation that was and still is a bulwark of climate science denial and opposition to effective climate action.
Uncompromising conviction politics only works well when the conviction itself is not wrong headed – even if it can survive a long time on public apathy and constant supportive high profile messaging. Even if, early on with the climate issue, the loudest and sometimes only voices calling for action were affiliated with political environmentalism, they were never the originators or primary sources of the climate issue so portraying them as such began well but ultimately has to fail, because expectations that the real sources – real science – would back down in the face of the barrage of criticism proved very wrong.
Accepting 3 decades of mainstream expert reports and studies is not a radical or extremist position at all and even if the turtoise of truth travels slower than the hare of lies, the tortoise does catch up. Not because people are moved by Al Gore or Greenpeace, but because the real institutions of science are more resistant to fake news and attempts to undermine public trust than the deniers thought.
Ikonoclast – I disagree that the climate issue is a capitalist versus socialist issue; capitalism isn’t incapable of addressing it, but large parts of it’s influential leadership discovered that they have the means to avoid it – and believed it was in the interests of the enterprises they run to do so. The means for avoiding responsibility has been primarily through regulatory capture, which, stripped of the tame terminology, is a form of corruption of our primary civic institutions. Being Socialist doesn’t offer any effective immunity. The use of PR, Advertising, Strategic Donating, Lobbying, Tactical Lawfare and Tankthink only works because too many of our representatives in government, who should know better and regardless of left or right or green or globalist leanings,have allowed them and aided them.
Calls for climate responsibility and pricing of emissions are not anti free-trade or anti capitalist. Expecting sovereign nations to enter into mutually beneficial international agreements, knowingly and willingly is not an intent to end sovereign nations. Expecting governments to enact necessary regulations on undesirable and harmful business activities is not an intent to end free enterprise. Expecting governments to base policy on 3 decades of consistent expert studies and reports is not ideological undermining of government’s ability to act.
I think it will be innovation, entrepreneurship and capitalist minded new energy industries are our most effective means to achieve a lasting transition to low emissions; it isn’t the capitalism that is the problem but the avoidance of responsibility and accountability people in positions of trust, failing to set the rules or enforce them.
Tim Wilson(ex IPA, FFS) just saw the two previously extremely safe and wealthy Liberal state seats that more or less comprise his federal seat very nearly fall to the Labor Party. Of course no one knows for sure why they swung to Labor but the Liberals’ climate policies (state and federal) could plausibly have been among the reasons. Wilson has caught the stench of his own political demise in his nostrils, and he doesn’t like what he smells.
Make of it what you will but but death bed conversions should always be treated sceptically.
I’m reminded of the Terry Pratchett character Cohen the Barbarian asking the people he’d captured to work for him. The first one said “I’d rather die” so naturally Cohen chopped off his head. Then turned to the next one… I get the impression a lot of the far right Liberal members are making exactly the same decision.
It’s almost more remarkable that some of them aren’t. Hopefully Julia Baird will inspire a few more to decide that going down with the stinking ship is not actually necessary. I’m less worried at the thought of the ALP negotiating with a collection of ex-Liberal independents than I am about whether the liberal party can be brought to a sane position.
The funniest result IMO would be if the National Party suddenly decided that catastrophic climate change would be bad for farmers and switched positions and supported the ALP. They’re small enough that it’s vaguely plausible.
Funnily enough the latest Liberal to threaten to quit the party is Craig Kelly. It’s like a relationship breakdown where both partners pack their bags and storm out of the house.
Note the date:
“In a press release, Adani Mining said: “We have finance and we are ready to start.”
“We will now begin developing a smaller open-cut mine comparable to many other Queensland coal mines and will ramp up production over time,” Adani Mining CEO Lucas Dow said in a statement.”
Thank you JQ for that telling line “he’d rather see his electorate burn than admit that climate change is a reality and we need action now”. Too true.