While a far from perfect system, trial by jury has certain important features which should be taken into account in making our own judgements on issues which affect our own lives.
Firstly, the system requires that the jury be comprised of the ‘peers’ of the accused – that is people from a similar enough background to that of the accused to be able to assess the evidence using similar standards to those which governed the circumstances of the accused’s actions.
And, secondly – and more importantly – the unanimous verdict reached by the required minimum number of members of the jury must be “beyond reasonable doubt” – and here the critical word is “reasonable”.
This means that the discussion by members of the jury must not be founded in emotional responses to the reported actions of the accused but on a logical examination of the facts, and must result in a decision requiring certainty that the accused intended to commit the offence and was, in fact, properly identified as the perpetrator.
And to establish the case against the accused, the prosecutor depends on the facts as evidence of the intent and action on the part of the accused.
The system falls over backwards to protect the accused, who is regarded as innocent until proved guilty, by avoiding publicising any previous criminal history until such time as the jury finds the accused guilty and the judge then proceeds to consider the history of prior offending in deciding an appropriate penalty.
The scientists have presented the world with a case against fossil fuels in relation to the cause of global warming, which is predicted to inflict considerable damage through its effects on the world’s climate.
The issues here are, firstly, whether the world’s climate is actually experiencing increasing temperatures – and, with evidence of polar ice melting and ‘hottest days on record’ being reported, few of us are in doubt on this point – and, secondly, whether the burning of fossil fuels by human beings is the most significant factor responsible for rising temperatures.
The climate scientists have also predicted that, if we fail to reduce emissions, we will experience increasingly frequent and severe weather events, including floods, droughts, fires, storms, landslides and inundation by rising oceans.
Here the word ‘increasingly’ becomes highly significant.
Do we just report events as they happen, allowing the list to lengthen until we are convinced that the scientists are indeed correct?
The alternative is to examine closely the evidence and arguments so far documented and decide, on the evidence, is the wisest course of action to accept the advice of the scientists and start following their recommendations, before temperatures have increased beyond our power to subsequently lower them, or, again, can we safely ignore the possible harmful effects on our descendants and postpone action until we feel the proof is strong enough to require that action?
What is holding us back from making that decision?
We have governments in many countries which see maintaining or improving current living standards as being their first priority.
Or they believe the actions deemed necessary will cost too much and adversely affect their country’s economy.
Or we have governments which simply refuse to accept the facts presented by the scientists because to do so will require them to accept they have been wrong or, in some cases, they have a deep-rooted but misguided ‘faith’ in what they have accepted as directions from some supernatural being in which they have placed their trust.
They make no attempt to provide evidence for their insistence on denying the truth of climate change and they seem impervious to the damage and destruction that is currently occurring as predicted.
To ask what it will cost to take the recommended action on the climate emergency is the old – ‘how long is a piece of string?’ question.
Far more pertinent is to look at what is occurring currently in Australia and ask – how much will it cost to rebuild lost homes, redevelop agricultural – and other – businesses, restore trade and – for the bereaved – assure them that governments are doing everything in their power to ensure no more lives will be lost unnecessarily because of a lack of proper forward planning?
It appears that too many politicians, once elected, feel no further need to consult their electorates or outside experts.
How can people, with no or little scientific knowledge or experience, be allowed to make decisions which require expert knowledge?
A halfway-decently qualified, apolitical public service would make it an unlikely event, but when political advisers and contracted consultants guide the policy, their highest priority is not necessarily the public interest!
I lived through WWII in the UK under an apolitical National Government, established to ensure that all expert advice was utilised as effectively as possible and the war effort was the paramount issue.
Winning the war was the only priority and civilian life was directed to assist that end.
The elements have declared war on us and we are not using resources efficiently in order to fight back, because our present government refuses to accept that it is priority number one.
We need proactive policies, not delayed reactive policies.
We need someone in charge who is better at leading than in creating slogans.
The answer to “Where the bloody hell are you, Prime Minister?” is clearly “Hiding from the truth!”
To be fair – many are also asking “Where is the Opposition?”
If they have coherent plans to put forward, now is the time, because they sure as hell are getting no opposing plans from the so-called government!
Latest announcement from the PM, as I write, concerns troops staying in Iraq.
OK – the rest of life must go on, but without more, careful attention to action on the climate emergency, life won’t go on for our great grandchildren!
Once more – this is my Resolution:
“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”
Will you join me and get out on the streets – maybe Australia Day would be appropriate? – and tell those whom we rashly elected that they need to go because they are not governing for us!
The clock is ticking.
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