The Mad Monk’s mob of…..

The 2013 election to be held in September, is potentially the most important in our country’s history for the very real problem of human induced climate change and our national policies to address it. I have already posted a couple of articles highlighting the huge difference in the levels of acceptance of the science underpinning what we know about climate change and the anthropogenic input amongst our federal politicians.  What I found, based on a comprehensive search of Hansard, personal websites, party websites and interview transcripts was a large difference between the conservative parties and everyone else. In the House of Representatives, nearly all Labor Members accept the science whilst in the conservative ranks, the split is close to 50/50. In the Senate, all Labor  and Green Members accept the science whilst the conservatives generally don’t, with deniers outnumbering acceptors by 3 to 1. No National Party Senators accept the science.

If recent polls being conducted are replicated in the election, the conservatives stand to win government, resulting in at least 3 years of well…..some sort of mish mash of policy where climate change is concerned. I really don’t understand how sensible policy can be formulated when half the team are in disagreement with the other half as to whether the very thing they are legislating for even exists? If that’s not dysfunctional at least in principle, then nothing is. To turn that dysfunction into something resembling a cohesive position, half the team have to ditch their principles. Personally, I have no respect for anyone who won’t stand up for their principles no matter who they are. I’d never vote for Bob Katter, because I think he’s batshit crazy and his politics are something out of the 1950’s, but I have the utmost respect for him, because he stands up for what he believes.

So, what would an Abbott led government look like in terms of who is looking after which ministerial portfolios and what their position is on the science underpinning climate change? How many of the potential ministers are deniers?

Acceptance or denial of the science underpinning climate change amongst Coalition potential ministers in an Abbott led government

Acceptance or rejection of the science underpinning climate change amongst the conservative Coalition’s potential ministers in an Abbott led government.

I don’t know about you, but that concerns me. More than half of the conservative politicians in the potential cabinet wanting to make decisions on your behalf in relation to climate change, reject the science underpinning it. Using the current list of shadow cabinet ministers in the Coalition and the work I have done previously, I have made the following table. (I have elevated their status under the hypothetical situation of them winning government).

Potential Coalition ministers, their portfolios and their acceptance or rejection of the science underpinning climate change based on current shadow ministers and the work undertaken previously to identify position. members highlighted in red reject the science, green accept. Blue indicates not enough information to determine position.

Potential Coalition ministers, their portfolios and their acceptance or rejection of the science underpinning climate change based on current shadow ministers and the work undertaken previously to identify position. Members highlighted in red reject the science, green accept. Blue indicates not enough information to determine position.

From this list, I have examined in more detail the Members whose portfolios are the most important in relation to matters associated with climate change.

Members of a potential coalition government whose ministerial portfolios relate to issues associated with climate change.

Members of a potential coalition government whose ministerial portfolios relate to matters associated with climate change.

The first thing that is apparent is that the majority of members responsible for portfolios associated with climate change reject the science underpinning climate change. I don’t know about you, but I find that completely absurd. It would be like having a Flat Earther as the Minister for Geography or a KKK member as the Minister for Cultural Affairs or a xenophobe looking after Immigration and Foreign Affairs.  It actually goes beyond absurd…and these people want your vote! So let’s just have a look at a few of the major players here. I’m not going to pick on the poor bastards I’ve coloured in green. Can you imagine being the Minister for Climate Change when your boss, your boss’ offsider and the majority of your colleagues think you’re in on the “scam”. How do you win their support to do what’s right in the party room? Short answer, you don’t. You go against your principles, do what the boss says, and convince yourself that his flawed logic is whole and sound. Poor Greg. He has my sympathy. The same applies to Ian McFarlane. How do you initiate policy that facilitates the uptake of renewable energy and wean your country of coal and oil when your party is full of windbaggers and others with close ties to the mining industry? You poor bastard. Oh Joe! What were you thinking? You don’t even know your own policy on compensation for businesses hurt by your boss’ inane decision to scrap the carbon tax. You’re a likeable guy but clearly inept.

So, let’s start at the top with the Mad Monk himself. Just remember, this is the guy who claims he accepts climate science and refers to the climate tax as “toxic” and has been unrelenting in repeating how he’s going to “scrap the toxic tax.” Can you believe anything he says? I can’t and nor does he. Don’t forget he was caught out lying and used the excuse that you can really only take what he says as “gospel truth” when it is carefully scripted for him.

So what about Ms Bishop? She is a definitely a denier. She appeals to one non-authority to reinforce her “science isn’t settled” mantra.

“The Prime Minister and her ministers have repeatedly declared that the “science is settled” and there is no need for further debate on how to respond to the environmental challenges from climate change. A Nobel Prize-winning scientist told me recently that “science is never settled” and that scientific assumptions and conclusions must always be challenged. This eminent Noble Laureate pointed that had he accepted the so-called “settled science”, he would not have undertaken his important research, which challenged orthodox scientific propositions and led to new discoveries, which resulted in a Nobel Prize.” Julie Bishop

I suppose though that if you are a denier in charge of the government, you’re going to want a denier trade minister to oversee the sale of 2.5 times the amount of fossil carbon than we use at home. You can’t have an attack of conscience when you don’t think there’s anything wrong. The same applies to Warren Truss. When you want to dig up billions of tons of fossil carbon, you’re going to need infrastructure and transport. I’ve featured Warren’s comments on climate change elsewhere on my site. I won’t repeat them here. Quite frankly they were embarrassing enough the first time.

Barnaby, Barnaby, Barnaby. So many stupid comments to choose from but lets just get to the core of where he stands in relation to climate change science.

“It is interesting, isn’t it, when you see those opposite reading speeches delivered to them straight from the local propaganda unit in the other place? It is just the biggest scam that this nation has ever seen concocted. This scam started out as global warming. That did not work so then it became climate change. That did not work so now it has become clean energy. If we hang around long enough, it will be ‘Saving the pets’.”

No Barnaby, the only scam going is the National Party scamming the very people they are supposed to be looking after, the farmers. But seriously, Barnaby actually thinks tens of thousands of scientists from all a round the world and  all the major scientific institutions and the UN are involved in a giant conspiracy. This is a grown man people, and he wants to make decisions that will affect you. He probably thinks there are aliens buried in the Arizona desert and the moon landing was faked. Neither of those two conspiracy theories is any crazier than the one he’s proposing. But let’s just talk about water which will be part of his portfolio should the conservatives win government. Water is vital to farming obviously. Farming is at the frontline of climate change in this country. Barnaby doesn’t accept that this is happening…

trend in rainfall

The National Farmers Federation, the peak industry body does. In a recent report, THE BLUEPRINT FOR AUSTRALIAN AGRICULTURE | 2013-2020, they identified challenges facing farming both now and into the future. They say…

It is likely we are already seeing the effects of climate change, with indications including higher average surface temperatures and changes in rainfall trends. Climate models project that, by 2030, average annual temperatures across Australia are likely to rise by 1°C (above 1990 temperatures), with warming of 0.7–0.9 °C in coastal areas and 1–1.2 °C inland. Drying is likely in southern areas of Australia, especially in winter, and in southern and eastern areas in spring. Changes in summer tropical rainfall in northern Australia remain highly uncertain (State of the Environment 2011 Committee, 2011). The impacts on Australian agriculture are likely to be spatially and temporally diverse, with many regions likely to experience more significant adverse consequences than others. The rate and extent of warming will be a key determinant and will affect the success of adaptation strategies while investment in R&D and innovation will be important (Kingwell, 2006). This could bring both negative and positive results, such as a gradual shift southwards for temperate agriculture. In the southern rangelands, animal production is likely to decline while the converse is true in the northern rangelands. Regions currently constrained for cropping, for example due to frost, waterlogging or grain sprouting, may become viable, which will impact the supply chain. The entire industry will require adjustment, as regional changes in production will affect input supplies and the location of processors and other industry assets. Earlier investment in adaptation will reduce the cost of mitigation and sequestration. The challenge is to mitigate the degree and potential impacts of climate change—for the sector and the environment—and to ensure farm, industry and transformation (or ‘radical change’) climate change approaches, such as shifting regions industries to new regions, continue to evolve.

With those changes in rainfall, proper water policy will be critical. Presumably the National Farmers Federation are either in on the conspiracy or they’ve been hoodwinked? Either way, Barnaby will have to ignore them to keep his silly ideology intact.

John Cobb, all things going to the conservatives plan will be looking after the agriculture and food security portfolio. So, what does John Cobb have to say about climate change?

“Many highly regarded scientists do not believe that everything being released and dealt with by the government under the climate change banner is a proven fact. Climate change has also become a growth industry and there are many people with a vested interest in it. So we are not talking about proven science we are talking about a climate change theory.”

Well, he’s correct about the vested interests but I suspect not in the way he is insinuating. Unfortunately he doesn’t name his “highly regarded scientists”. I suspect the darling of the conservatives, the non-expert Ian (I’m the director of 7 mining companies) Plimer is one of them. I must say, I’m pleased that Mr Cobb has elevated climate change from a series of well tested and demonstrated hypotheses to Theory. In which case rejecting it means he should also consider rejecting other Theories like Evolution, Germ, Plate Tectonics or Relativity. If however he means theory in the general sense used in non-scientific terms, then all he has done is  demonstrate his ignorance of basic scientific convention.

The thing about John Cobb that really bugs me is the fact that he will be the minister for Agriculture and Food Security yet I don’t know that he will take that role seriously. In 2012, Mr Cobb in his capacity as the opposition shadow minister for agriculture and food security rose to speak 61 times in parliament. Of those occasions, only once did he discuss food security. Clearly, not a topic he considers very important. He did outline what he considers the main threat to food security though…

We work to sustain the way of life and prosperity for all Australians.

That should be a government mission statement, not a specific department within it. Labor’s indifference to agriculture is trashing the agricultural brand, undermining the industry, and is our nation’s biggest threat to food security.

The 2012 Year of the Farmer is a chance for the agricultural sector to explain the need for government to help with research and development, to educate researchers, agronomists and rural scientists towards increasing efficiency and productivity, and to have people with the ability to look after Australia’s biosecurity and quarantine. We absolutely must have those people.

So in 2012, the year of the farmer, the would-be minister for food security spoke only once about what many would consider a very important issue. He wrongly believes the Labor government is the biggest risk to food security. he is playing politics with a very significant issue. Whether he likes it or not climate change is the biggest threat to food security. Perhaps in the rose-coloured world of climate change denial, everything is fine and it’s business as usual, despite the fact the National Farmers Federation, the peak industry body, that I assume he will be expected to take seriously has labelled climate change a “high priority”

The Blueprint has grouped the following issues under the Natural Resources theme:
• security of access to the use of natural resources (high priority)
• higher expectations for environmental care (high priority)
impact of climate variability and extreme climatic events (high priority)
• increased risk of domestic diseases and pests (moderate priority).

Finally, Sophie Mirabella, the shadow minister for Industry, Innovation and Science. In 2012, Sophie , the opposition shadow minister for Industry, Innovation and Science rose to speak 51 times in parliament. Of those 51 occasionss, only 3 contained the word “science”. On one of those occasions, she said this…

“On science, what is the precise role, as you see it, of the Chief Scientist? Can you give the House a clear statement in principle of the kinds of conduct or circumstances that would cause the government to lose confidence in and/or terminate the employment of any Chief Scientist?”

No discussion of science funding or putting forward any intitiatives, just looking for justification to sack the Chief Scientist when she gets into power because she didn’t like the fact that he acted in the best interests and on the advice of scientists at ANU when they told him they feared for their lives because of nutjob deniers sending them “death threats”. Well it turns out the death threats weren’t really death threats and only one could potentially be construed as a death threat. But you have to wonder, what if they were real death threats and the Chief Scientist didn’t act and someone did get killed? No doubt Ms Mirabella would be calling for blood? Ms Mirabella should concentrate less on working for her whacky ideology and return to working on, oh I don’t know, something to do with science.

So there you have it, deniers in the conservative ranks, looking after climate or climate related policy. A cabinet, divided over the science. Dysfuntional and absurd and led by a liar. That’s the coalition and they want your vote.

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