Triggering global warming

It’s tempting to dismiss Deputy PM Michael McCormack’s attack on “inner city greenies” who draw the link between climate change and bushfires as an ignorant rant. In reality, McCormack is pointing to a central truth about rightwing denialism on this issue.

Deniers like McCormack don’t (in most cases) believe the stupid things they are saying about climate change. It’s a shibboleth (a signal of tribal membership) and for this purpose, the stupider the better.

Nor is primarily about the economic interests of the fossil fuel lobby. McCormack doesn’t (AFAIK) have any coal mines in his electorate, and the farmers who put him in Parliament are being hit harder by the drought than anyone else.

In reality, it’s all about the inner city greenies: that is, people like the readers of this blog, whether or not we live in the inner city, and whatever our attitude to cafe latte. The whole point of rightwing politics now is to express antagonism to people like us or, in the parlance of Donald Trump Jr to “trigger the libs”

Climate denial has been one of the main avenues of this antagonism. The fact that the right has been proved catastrophically wrong isn’t going to change anything: as McCormack has shown, it is just making them worse.

Welcome to Armageddon!

31 thoughts on “Triggering global warming

  1. Is this – and please don’t take it the wrong way – original, or does borrow someone else’s idea? I’d be interested to read more about it.

  2. Up here in the Wide Bay Burnett, lots of people see a direct connection between inner-city lefties and the fires. They’re convinced we lefties have stopped land-owners carrying out sensible land-clearing and hazard-reduction burning, like the Aborigines used to do, and thus allowed masses of fuel to accumulate. Mention of climate change is met with blank looks or a reference to Dorothea Mackellar.

  3. Sometimes I think it would be OK if AGW and ocean acidification caused a catastrophe on the scale of 100 World War Twos as it would (or should) discredit the conservatives and reactionaries for a good century or two.

    However, after reading the latest Bloomberg energy forecasts, and noting the extraordinary and ongoing drop in battery, solar and wind prices, it seems very likely to me that such a catastrophe will be averted. If that happens, I can just imagine a few decades from now a geriatric Andrew Bolt and others of his ilk pounding their zimmer frames and saying “I told ya the alarmists had nothing to worry about!!”

  4. The more hard evidence of the harsh realities of global warming and climate change that are put to people like McCormack, the more desperate they become to fight back, even if, deep down, they’re absolutely wrong. They’ve painted themselves into a corner: a very hot and unpleasant one.

  5. McCormack was on RN urging everyone to have a plan, a grab bag of essentials and pay heed to those in authority.

    He’s not one to lead by example.

  6. “They’ve painted themselves into a corner: a very hot and unpleasant one.”
    Not that unpleasant, with the entire mass-media of the “free press” in that corner. If you think that is an exaggeration, think again.

  7. The main reason farmers dislike the whole concept of global warming is the exact same reason why people who live next to the ocean dislike it. It is the same psychology that smokers had with the health warnings of the link between tobacco smoke and cancer(s). It is much easier to shoot the messenger than to change your behaviour.

  8. There is no honour. These people who are in power, got there by being voted into power. McCormack, for all his flaws (I’d say they are many, but who am I to judge?), is a mirror to this. Someone, living in the same region as him, voted for him. Enough of the voters were so concerned about anyone but themselves, didn’t give a toss about their kids, in the present tense, they thought voting in a complete troglodyte was sound politics. Even the NFF has a different position on climate change, FFS. But not the Nationals, oh no nee no.

    Newsflash: as an inner city living individual (who *cannot afford to own land*, hence stuck in an apartment), do I deny the several generations of farmers, including some still going, who are in my family? Do I suddenly forget the problems and issues they face, every day, because of drought and/or flood? Nope. So, when a fucking prick like McCormack insults me, personally, I am offended. Really offended.

    We all know the score. McCormack can hide behind a shield of ignorance, but he knows, he really knows that climate change is something we humans—unlike recent geological record, stretching back hundreds of thousands of years, to the dawn of humanity itself—*now* affect, through our collective actions. He knows this. To presume that he doesn’t, is to give him a free pass. He is the god-damn (and I use that ironically) deputy prime minister of the friggin’ country.

    I really feel like putting a string of expletives here, but I guess my point is amply made: they know, they choose, and they don’t choose *us*. The question remains, why do we choose them?

  9. The double-standard here drives me nuts: prominent right-wing politicians, who would self-describe as patriots, loving Australia deep down in their bones etc. (cf the flag-pins), spout off about groups of Australians as being insincere, phoney, trivial, etc. — just by dint of where they live. It’s mostly taken for granted that this is okay for them to do, even if (mirabile dictu) there’s been pushback this time on the substance of McCormack’s denialism.

    Now imagine Tanya Plibersek belittling regional Australia as redneck f**kwits hoodwinked by culture war distractions into voting against their real economic and social interests. Imagine Bill Shorten doing it, or Penny Wong.*

    Hating Australians is okay for thee, but not for me, I suppose

    * (Albanese, of course, would mouth some platitude about bringing the latte-sippers and rednecks into a room together with small business, so we can set him aside for the purpose of this thought experiment)

  10. “Sometimes I think it would be OK if AGW and ocean acidification caused a catastrophe on the scale of 100 World War Twos as it would (or should) discredit the conservatives and reactionaries for a good century or two.”

    Unfortunately there are a few problems with that: (1) the people, wildlife and habitat most affected, most vulnerable from climate change are the very ones contributing the *least* to the problem and (2) the ones pushing the ideological line won’t change their minds even if it meant burying their heads even further in the sand.

  11. And when they are spitting out their teeth due to malnutrition they will be telling themselves, we (I) won because we are (I am) the last ones left standing. (This must be a sign that I am blessed by God. Heaven is therefore but a few short steps away.)

    We can not change such people. We could kill them. But that would be expensive. Killiing them is also not exactly ethical MOST of the time. There are exceptions.

    Quaranting them is both ethical and practical. The worst offenders of course can be quaranitined in a Chinese coal mine never to see the light of day. The second worse can be quarantined in prisons. After that there will be reeducation battalions where the slow politcal learners will be on probation with freedom of movement limited to areas where they can be kept under observation. They will not be under observation all of the time. But they might be under observation any time. The freedom of speech of such people will not be limited. They will be able to say what ever they want with out fear of retaliation. They will not be able to say it to whoever they want though.
    There is a justification for this infringement upon the potential behavior of those who are a threat to the health and well being of the greater part of the population.
    The state has an obligation to define and protect the moral developement of the youth in a society. Does that sound overly Islamic. It does sound Islamic to me. That is why I am willing to cut some slack on Khameini and Ahmadinejad. Look I do not agree with their particular standards. But I do agree that some standards need to be enforced.
    I also agree with Khameini and Ahmadidinejad that these standards should not be subject to a one person one vote ruling as to their validity. But I disagree that with Islamic Scholars that the state should be able to impose its rules without some sort of social oversight. That is where the English concept of jury nullification comes in. If a state prosecuting attorney can not convince a jury of citizens that a law is a just and neccessary law in a courtroom where both sides can take all the time that they need to explain their case, the state should not be able to fine the defendant or imprison them.
    Ok perhaps so far so good. But admitedly I know that my own plan has a flaw. How can the state be stopped from poisoning or stacking the juries. In the 1980s I was called for jury duty on a case of someone charged with selling drugs. I was dismissed from the jury before the trial started because I was a registered Libertarian. (At that time.) In that trial the state prevented the defendant from getting a fair trial.
    Just as a point of information, i do not cut any slack to Saudi leachers because they are clearly fake Muslims who are in no way shape or form acting in good faith while carring out their duties as the manipulators of Saudi society.
    There is a second justification for limiting the potential of loose cannons from being able to destroy the good functioning of society through the spreading of ideas that create class and ethnic divisions. That is such misfits, as defined by the legitimate rulers, not neccissarily the lawful rulers, weaken a state militarily. Legitimate state rulers have an interest in preventing disharmoney in a society. Of course illigitimte rulers will seek to hide the causes of disharmoney and manipulate those being disadvantaged in to believing that their losses are justified. Legitimate rulers will seek not only to address the symptoms of a problem with short term policies but seek to identify and eliminate the sources of the disharmoney.
    Now I fully recognize that not only Boris Johnson but even that nice guy Jeremy Corbyn could say that what I just described sounds an awful lot like a formula for bringing Napolean or perhaps the Poliburo back to power. Yes based upon their upbringing a lot of people educated in Australia, America and Austria would see it that way.
    To make things even worse lawful but illegimate rulers will use every trick in the book to take advantage of the lack of discernment among the less educated and the less expirienced. Grey will be portrayed as light purple and tan will be portrayed as orange.
    But the legitimate rulers will attempt to create an system of institutional balances that creates some level of risk for anyone and everyone attempting to mold a society’s future. That is a key difference between a group of oligarchs and a group of shepards.
    A sad thing is there is no insititutional framework that can not be subverted by a group of determined people with access to adequate assets.

  12. I checked The Australian this morning (so that y’all are spared from doing so) and found a sheaf of articles and letters with the following themes:

    1. The Greens and greenies are politicising the bushfires.
    2. The Greens and greenies are to blame for the bushfires.

    These articles and letters are juxtaposed without the slightest sense of self-parody.

    Yesterday the paper published a letter claiming that hazard reduction burning in NSW had been stopped by “green pressure groups”. I sent in a response to this letter citing claims on a NSW Government website that, since the start of its Enhanced Bushfire Management Program in 2011, it has more than doubled the scale of its annual hazard reduction burning. This was not published today.

    Here is the NSW Government web page in question.

  13. Paul Norton

    I am shocked, shocked that the Australian contains articles and letters attacking Greens and greenies. Next thing you’ll be telling is that you’ve gone into the archives and found articles and letters in Der Stürmer attacking Jews.

  14. It’s plainly stupid to suggest that Scott Morrison and McCormack have any responsibility for this year’s horrific fires. It’s perfectly reasonable, though, to suggest they and their policies are going to be responsible for many of the much worse and more numerous fires we’re going to have in 2030, let alone 2050; not all of them, as it’s a worldwide problem, but perhaps 3% of them – 150, say, and five deaths. And when I say ‘Scott Morrison’, of course, I mean the people who voted for him. It’s mathematically impossible for a government to be stupider than the people who elected it.

  15. “It’s plainly stupid to suggest that Scott Morrison and McCormack have any responsibility for this year’s horrific fires”

    “Plainly stupid” is very strong wording. It might be debatable as to how culpable they are, but just be aware that high ranking firies and scientists and the climate council have all been pushing (for 4+ years) for more resources for fire prevention, fire management and fire response *due to climate change* (their words). All these parties have been actively endeavouring to seek a meeting with the PM and various other government lever-pullers to no avail over that period.
    IIRC the climate council have produced multiple reports on the urgency of the issue within the last 4 years all with the headline (to paraphrase) *Urgent Action Needed* with no response from the lever-pullers in Canberra.

  16. “more resources for fire prevention, fire management and fire response *due to climate change* (their words).”

    This is a state government responsibility. The federal government doesn’t run fire brigades. In fact, apart from the armed forces, federal police, border force and spies it doesn’t actually do anything.

  17. Greenies: Powerful enough to burn down NSW but too weak to introduce vehicle fuel efficiency standards. They are not only comic book villains, they are as stupid as comic book villains.

  18. The high winds that have made the bushfires worse over the past few days have enabled wind-powered electricity generation to be double its normal level. I can’t work out whether this is ironic or the opposite of ironic.

  19. The federal government doesn’t run fire brigades. In fact, apart from the armed forces, federal police, border force and spies it doesn’t actually do anything.

    Courts, embassies and consulates, the census, mail, Australian Hearing Services, CSIRO, …

  20. We need to start exposing the causal link between deforestation and catastrophic bushfires. It is not only burning coal what has significant lag (true effects will only be seen in a few decades from now) but it is the removal of trees what affects moisture transportation across the land mass and has almost immediate effects. The real issue is the catastrophic drought not the lack of hazard reduction. Land clearing has been allowed under the Coalition state governments and this has to be halted immediately. Another issue is water mismanagement. Of course the processes occurred over the whole 200 years period and cannot be undone immediately but at least we have to start debating this issue – together with phasing out coal.

  21. completely off topic.

    hells bells, i’ve just come from a site describing a bunch of wanna-be “australians”, “the lads society”,

    stating JQ stands for jewish question.

    i don’t know how to address you now.

    hells bells


  22. Chris Borthwick: I can’t see how, if Morrison and McCormack are (along with many others) responsible for future climate disasters they don’t share responsibility for current ones. They have been contributing to sabotaging the climate for years and there is essentially no time lag between emissions and complete atmospheric mixing.

  23. I am not aware of any environmentalist led restrictions on hazard reduction burning. Some can be “blamed” for protecting and restoring native vegetation, which may increase fire risks compared to land that is cleared and may not be well managed for fire risk. Not sure environmentalists are in charge of such management or are even especially opposed to hazard reduction burning. And not sure the alternative to protecting native vegetation – more land clearing and loss of habitat – can or should be seen as a positive.

    I think the issues with burning off are much more about other factors than “greenies”. Like people moving on and moving in; there is often a lack of experience and confidence in using fire as a management tool in many landholders. There are stronger requirements and conditions for fire permits and increased penalties for such fires that escape containment compared to a decade or two ago – which makes even fire experienced landholders more reluctant to do so. I am also seeing – due to hotter winters and longer fire seasons aka climate change – less safe opportunities and an increased risk of fires escaping containment, with a consequent greater need for equipment and labour to do such burning safely. Combined, these do lead to less hazard reduction burning – and yet I see an increased awareness of it’s importance and efforts to do so. I’m not aware of any ‘green’ organisations expressing opposition, but I don’t doubt someone somewhere can be found that does.

    Climate change is a real factor, just not the only factor. It is a factor that will continue to grow in significance as climate moves beyond merely more of what we already get and head into uncharted territory. I am deeply concerned how it’s impacts will play out when global average temperatures are several degrees C above what we have now – and we should not forget that average temperatures over land will be consistently higher than the global average.

  24. According to AEMO’s Quarterly Energy Dynamics Q3 2019, released today

    “NEM emissions for the quarter continued the recent downward trend, reaching the lowest level on record, both in terms of absolute emissions and emissions intensity. The NEM average emissions intensity of 0.71 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents/MWh was around 5% lower than the previous lowest quarter (Q2 2019). This downward trend in emissions is due to record low brown coal-fired generation, increased VRE output, and lower NEM operational demand.”

    It doesn’t matter much, if at all, what bozos like Michael McCormack say. Technology is destiny.

  25. In my dreams I imagine The Climate Inquisition in 2025 where the main culprits are brought to account in a chamber that is looking for revenge and dishing out appropriate punishment that is more about humiliation than violence. You know time in the stocks and pelted with rotten tomatoes, the odd parade through the streets naked strapped to a donkey. And all wealth confiscated to be used to repair the damage wreaked by warming. In the OZ inquisitions I am looking at you Bolt, Gina, Tony, Rupert/Lachlan, Maurice Newman, Barnaby, Canavan, Kelly………the list goes on and on.

  26. JQ, I hope you are using Armageddon not as the end of the world, but as an end of a ‘specific’ time. 

    If people provide fodder to the likes of McCormack… well… it might hasten the other type of armageddon. Back to “not much different” is my wish. 

    “”Armageddon is not around the corner. This is only what the people of violence want us to believe. The complexity and diversity of the world is the hope for the future.” Michael Palin

    Just a battle, what people of violence want us to believe, or is the term armagedon justified as “every day is Judgement Day?” ”

    “Four Hiroshima bombs a second: how we imagine climate change

    “The planet is building up heat at the equivalent of four Hiroshima bombs worth of energy every second. And 90% of that heat is going into the oceans.

    “Right, now I’ve got your attention.

    “If these images are too difficult to imagine, we can go to pop culture itself. The Terminator films keep referring back to Judgement Day, where self-aware machines take control of nuclear weapons to extinguish 3 billion human lives. In the films future soldiers are sent back in time to prevent Judgement Day, kind of like politicians pledging to return carbon emissions to 1990 levels.

    “But the problem with global warming is that with that much heat going into the oceans, every day is Judgement Day”

    And always remember “Kids; Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous. Do not attempt it in your own home.”
    Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, 

    “Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon.”
    “Rorschach” in Watchmen (2009 film) 

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