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#30 Year Challenge

By 2353NM 

There is a social media meme at the moment where two photos are posted side by side, one from 2009 the other from 2019. ‘Bonus points’ are apparently gained by ‘featuring’ a similar pose in both photos. As everything is apparently better with a hashtag, this latest fad is tagged as the #10yearchallenge.

While social media has only been ‘a thing’ for about 10 years, why stop there? If we look back 30 years ago to 1 January 1989, all 197 countries of the world implemented the Montreal Protocol which effectively bans the use of chemicals that adversely affect the ozone layer above the earth. The agreement was signed in 1987. Australia’s Department of Environment and Energy has a detailed description of what the ozone layer is and why it is important here, but for the purposes of a political blogsite, the effects of a reduction in the ozone layer around the world would allow significant additional levels of UV light to reach the earth affecting plant crops, food production, our climate and our ability to survive outdoors. As The Guardian recently reported

Governments temporarily put aside cold-war hostilities and united rapidly around a solution to the ozone problem. From the first research in 1973, it took just 16 years for the world to discuss, agree and put in place a solution that reversed the trend.

The Guardian goes on to compare the relatively quick action on the elimination of ozone layer damaging chemicals to the world’s lack of action on climate change.

By comparison, scientific warnings that carbon dioxide emissions could disrupt the climate date back to at least 1962 (and the risks were speculated on much earlier). Yet despite numerous international agreements on the subject since then (Rio 1992, Kyoto 1998, Copenhagen 2009, Paris 2015), emissions are still climbing.

While there was clear scientific evidence that the ozone layer was diminishing there is also clear evidence in the increase in high temperatures, inconsistent rainfall, changes to native fauna and increasingly more powerful cyclones, that climate change is a reality in Australia and elsewhere. Increasing droughts and even more frigid winters around the world demonstrate on a daily basis that the climate is changing to a far greater extent than can be supported by natural variation.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has released its review of the climatic conditions in 2018 and frankly, it isn’t ‘a good read’. The UK’s Met Office is already calling 2019 a record breaking year for all the wrong reasons.

The Guardian claims:

In the 80s, the environment was not yet the polarising issue it has become, but the dominant figures – including the US president, George HW Bush, the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, and the British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher – still had to overcome business interests, treasury doubts and political short-termism to protect the future health of the planet. They refused to accept the delaying tactics of chemical companies, some of which argued action should wait until the science was clearer. Today, Trump, Bolsonaro and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, represent fossil fuel interests, deny science and undermine international cooperation.

And they’re probably correct. Governments around the world that have traditional links to business, such as the Liberal (in name only) Party in Australia and the Republican Party in the USA, seem to be beholden to self-interests that are clearly arguing delay to any environmental action to mitigate climate change so corporate investments are not negatively affected. When a company does break ranks, such as AGL announcing the uneconomic Liddell Power Station would close in 2022 to be replaced with renewable energy, the Liberal Party Prime Minister of the day (in this case Turnbull) applied pressure to keep the plant open. Even in 2019. The Liberal Party is also apparently considering additional coal fired power stations as a part of its ‘energy guarantee’. And the National Party who is supposed to represent the interests of regional Australia (where climate change is acknowledged as a real and ever-present danger to livelihoods) goes along with this madness.

Ten years ago, then PM Rudd squibbed action on climate change when he wouldn’t negotiate with the Greens to get an emissions trading scheme through the Senate, after calling climate change ‘the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time’. In 2019 we have PM Morrison claiming Australia will meet its Paris Agreement ‘in a canter’ when the reality is we don’t have a snowballs’ chance in hell.

Some of the #10yearchallenge photos are quite clever, such as the one with the eye chart getting progressively more out of focus. The best we can do is two PMs that have failed to protect current and future generations. The Australian political system should be better than that.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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5 comments

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  1. Ken Derrick

    The two images of the polar bears sums up the very bad situation / outcome.

  2. terence mills

    Just a couple of weeks ago we were seeing truck loads of fodder being transported to drought ravaged cattle in NW Queensland. Now we see loads of fodder being dropped from aircraft to cattle stranded by floodwaters in the same areas.

    We are also seeing on the TV news many thousands of stressed cattle dying in muddy bogs due to the rains.

    These monsoonal rains are expected in the North of Australia – some people pray for them – and they arrived in abundance this year.

    I have to pose the question, with the greatest of respect : what risk management strategies are being employed in these areas ?

  3. Zathras

    People readily accepted the science behind the hole in the ozone layer because the (Chemical) industry behind the problem also provided the solution so there was no corporate need to mount and fund a denialist campaign, unlike the fossil fuel industries.

    The degree of research and consensus behind the climate debate goes way beyond the Ozone hole studies yet some people vigorously dispute the results.

    Some years ago the Koch brothers funded a feeble propaganda campaign to convince people that the polar bear population was actually increasing as if that alone proved the science was wrong and in the face of physical evidence of melting ice.

  4. ChristopherJ

    Terry, they count on being bailed out by the Government and a sympathetic populace. As you point out, that land should never have been cleared for cattle. The clearing only exacerbates the damage when we get a significant weather event.

    2.7m over 7 weeks around my way, while elsewhere massive heat events.

    And our lords don’t believe there is a problem and that it needs the mobilisation of the entire planet in order to solve it.

    Therein lies the rub, a problem as ancient as the commons

    And, thank you Ad

  5. guest

    The Murdoch press will tell us that the Qld rains are merely a monsoon event. So what put all that water in the air? And why so much? Haven’t we had monsoon events before? You know, nothing to see here.

    John Howard recently said he was an “agnostic” about climate change. Which is a clever way to avoid too much criticism. Not so much fuss from the climate scientists and not so much from the deniers, who saw he was at least half on their side. But why did he, as PM , not know about climate change with more certainty. He followed up by saying he believed in “traditional means” of generating energy, which gave the game away. Note the ‘religious’ fervour.

    We have a scientist who worked at the JCU who espoused denier talk for a decade, but was later dismissed for other reasons. He claimed that there was no great problem with the GBR and that we should look on the positive side. The Reef would recover and soil runoff has no effect on the Reef He works for dredging companies. No conflict of interest there.

    Then we have Judith Curry quoted in the Australian as saying there are three ways to approach climate change: ignore it, or use C20th responses such as solar, or we can wait to use C21st artificial intelligence to work out the “cycles” involved in climate change – otherwise we just keep going back the blaming CO2. Are you convinced by that palaver? Spooky!

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