The new normal: put up with it

Anthony Albanese has finally responded to the bushfire disaster. On the positive side, and by contrast with Morrison, he has at least acknowledged the role of climate change in turning our historical pattern of episodic bushfires into a new normal in which fires burn for weeks on end in places that have never seen them before. As of today, with the worst of the crisis behind us for now, NSW Fire and Rescue Service reports

At 8.30am there are 129 fires burning, 66 are uncontained. One fire is at Watch and Act level. More than 1,800 personnel are working to contain these fires. Severe and High Fire Danger Ratings continue over much of the state today.

Albo’s response is to call for an emergency COAG which will discuss how to deal with climate related disasters, but not, it seems, look at doing anything about our contribution to climate change. That would, it seems, be unnecessarily divisive.

We now have a choice between two exciting climate policies

LNP: Don’t believe your lying eyes, let alone lying scientists. It isn’t happening

ALP: It’s happening, and we’re not going to do anything unpopular to stop it. Get used to it.

9 thoughts on “The new normal: put up with it

  1. I can’t think of any body of theory in economics, psychology or organisational behavior which would have predicted any other outcome.

  2. kenalovell : the cliche example given is the ozone layer, but there is also air pollution in cities (“smog”, or the famous pea souper fogs of London), and the ongoing (mis)management of fresh water both nationally and internationally. Or if you prefer military areas, the nuclear war or lack therof since the US attacks on Japan, and the lack of war in Korea (North and South) and China (Mainland vs Taipei) to pick two examples. Similarly, the partition of Ireland (or for that matter, the acquisition of Scotland by the English), both of which featured conflict followed by negotiation.

    If there really is no theory in economics, psychology or organisational behavior that can explain any of those, then what’s the point of them?

  3. I don’t know what point you’re trying to make. None of the issues you mentioned bears any similarities to global warming.

    Perhaps my comment was too cryptic. Taking action to reverse global warming would require people to accept substantial cost and inconvenience now, in order to prevent potential future harm that is uncertain and unquantifiable. They would have to do this while being assured by countless authority figures in society, echoed in many cases by their peer group, that the whole thing is a fraud or at least grossly exaggerated. There is no theory of human behavior which provides any grounds for believing this was ever going to be achievable.

  4. Germans seem to have accepted the cost of reconstruction of their energy system. And in South Australia the Libs, once gaining power, seem to have embraced renewables cheerfully.

    I don’t think it’s as hard as some people fear, we just need clear minded and forward thinking politicians to lead.

    The ALP seem happy to work with renewables, as long as the coal industry is not harmed. It’s the miners that have been allowed to call the tune

  5. Saying “I don’t think it’s as hard as some people fear, we just need clear minded and forward thinking politicians to lead” seems to me like saying “I don’t think the Australian irrigation system is as hard to fix as some people think, we just need water to run uphill”. It misunderstands what the driving factors are. Australian politicians are doing what the Australian people asked them to do, and that includes supporting the coal industry. It’s logically impossible for a government to be stupider than the people who elected it.

  6. ken, my reply seems to have been lost in moderation or to the vagaries of wordpress.
    In short, the ozone hole is an exact parallel, but with lower costs and in a time of more reasonable politics. Fresh water is both a global problem that really needs a global solution (to prevent further wars between Israel and points upstream, further wars over the Nile, and god help us all when India starts dictating water use terms to countries upstream of them, etc). BUT we already have some progress – water is a habitual part of Israel-related discussions, the COAG meetings in Australia seem to habitually cover it. Fundamentally it’s all about “substantial cost and inconvenience now, in order to prevent potential future harm”, sometimes in the brutal “some starve now or all starve later” sense.
    Likewise, the ongoing bribery/extortion of North Korea is quite literally cost and inconvenience now in the hope of not losing the China Seas.

    Altruism exists. If you deny that then I don’t know what to say to you.

  7. When you consider the number of power station closures, that have happened or are about to happen (75% of coal fired power station in the country were operating beyond their original design life), I don’t get the feeling that people want new coal fired power stations to be built. For some reason the transition to renewables is happening below the radar, perhaps the politics has been exhausted by the reality of the costs.

    Mining and exporting coal is in the too hard basket.

  8. Chris B:
    “It’s logically impossible for a government to be stupider than the people who elected it.”

    That’s an axiom that surely deserves a thorough examination.

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