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Climate Change Insurgent: Tony Abbott’s Crusade

He is the inimitable, true political ugliness, the bad boy with a mistimed punch. While not quite professorial in his lunacy (that honour will have to go to Pauline Hanson of One Nation, whose sincere bigotry remains pungent), he aspires to it with a greater sense of reason.

This Exocet missile of Australian politics continues to direct his power and magic into the vessels of the Turnbull government, hoping that his relevance will resume form. His victories, gained from the right wing of the Liberal-National coalition, have been significant, effectively trimming the efforts of the government.

Tony’s never so immaculate releases always tend to rumble. Before an audience at the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London this week, Abbott was very clear: “Primitive people once killed goats to appease the volcano gods.”

The societies of now were certainly more “sophisticated” but for all that progress humans were still characteristically delusional, a superstitious lot “sacrificing our industries and our living standards to the climate gods to little effect.”

Environmentalism had become a dangerous dogma rather than an indispensable pursuit for a healthier earth. “Environmentalism has managed to combine a post-socialistic instinct for big government with a post-Christian nostalgia for making sacrifices in a good cause.”

This was not all. A heated earth was something to relish not abhor. “In most countries, far more people die in cold snaps than in heatwaves, so a gradual lift in global temperatures, especially if it’s accompanied by more prosperity and more capacity to adapt to change, might even be beneficial.”

In this calculus of death, Abbott’s point is distorting. True, cold is a natural killer of the infirm and elderly, and generally, more effective on current figures. But then again, excessive heat is set to catch up in its reaping potency.

According to the World Health Organisation, the middle of the century will see malaria, diarrhoea, heat stress and malnutrition gathering up an extra 250,000 people a year. “Areas with weak health infrastructure – mostly in developing countries – will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond.”

Abbott, in the true spirit of a climate insurgent, adopts a two-pronged approach. Even if climate change was happening (which it’s not, being the science of “absolute crap” in his charming terms), it could hardly be a bad thing even if it was. Having looked at photographs of Manly beach over a century, he saw no signs of rising sea levels. (Such a scientifically inquiring mind!) But surely, a heated earth was far better than a frozen one?

Beneath the currents of the Abbott show was a sense that the science, and scientists, could not be trusted. “The growing evidence that records have been adjusted, that the impact of urban heat islands have been downplayed, and that data sets have been slanted in order to fit the theory of dangerous anthropogenic global warming does not make it false; but it should produce much caution about basing drastic action upon it.”

The coalition government’s response back in Australia was that Abbott had become a mind changer. If they were consulting the politician who greeted world leaders at the G20 summit in Brisbane in 2014, this was certainly the case. Then, as prime minister, Abbott felt duty bound to make the case that there was such a grave thing as climate change. Climate change scepticism was tantamount to Holocaust denial, and Abbott was playing along, so much so he endorsed the Paris Climate Agreement. But before his audience in Westminster, he suggested that he had always had doubts.

During the Turnbull tenure, Abbott has become the spear thrower for the climate change deniers, manoeuvring himself into territory that embraces both unalloyed radicals and resident nutters. There is much to admire about this suicidal tendency, which is purely political rather than scientific or environmental. It is the pursuit of self-interest and national interest, a view that suspects, combats and dismisses. Few Australian politicians could ever do it and get away with it.

The coalition government, however, risks being outflanked yet again. On Thursday night, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop vented on the ABC’s 7.30 Report, suggesting that the former PM had lost the plot. “It is up to him to explain the differences between his opinion [as prime minister] and his opinion now.”

In an effort to douse the flames of doubt now engulfing the ministry, Bishop insisted that “the important thing is the government’s position and under Prime Minister [Malcolm] Turnbull we are working hard to come up with a plan that delivers affordable and reliable energy that will meet with our international obligations.” A plan, in short, that did everything.

Prime Minister Turnbull had hoped that the Finkel Report would fireproof him against the next Abbott surge and finally put the climate change voodoo to bed. But the Abbott war against Turnbull is taking place in several theatres, all of which have shown Turnbull to be a modern Maginot line.

On climate, Turnbull’s embrace of the Finkel recommendations, largely because of sceptics within his own party, remain limited, centred on the idea of a Clean Energy Target Abbot regards with satanic scorn. Abandoning it will be Abbott’s prize, and a sign of a government gazing further over the precipice of electoral annihilation.

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  1. Florence nee Fedup

    I believe only one thing drives Abbott. Not ideology. He has none. Not desrire to be PM again. Not doing good. What drives Abbott is hateful vengencver when it comes to Turnbull.

    Turnbull reused to give him a shadow ministry. Added that he didn’t believe Tony was up to the job. For present PM, they battle began from that day.

    Sadly Turnbull has turned out to be another Abbott in many ways.

  2. John O'Callaghan

    I dont think Abbott is going for the top job again just yet… first things first,he knows going by the polls Labor will probably get in at next election, and he will be opposition Leader once he knifes Turnbull,and then he and Credlin will start their wrecking tactics like they did against Gillard.

    It wont work this time around but,and he and Credlin will be out on their arse in a couple of years following more bad polls!*!*

  3. guest

    You only have to read the Murdoch press to know that they have no intention of allowing climate change science to spoil their party – or certainly not Rupert’s, with his interests in fossil fuels. Rupert’s pathetic tweets show that.

    So Abbott spouts a lot of rubbish in London in order to sabotage Turnbull.

    Someone like Chris Kenny scribbles a lot of nonsense denier stuff debunked long ago. But these people have big memories for debunked rubbish and for rewriting history into whatever suits their mantra at the time.

    One only has to look at the “prophesies” Tim Flannery made, according to them – but never did (they never cite sources}.

    See how renewables are supposed to have caused a blackout a year ago in SA (non since) – but no mention of the winds.

    Then we are told that Oz produces only 1.3% of carbon emissions in the world, so we need not think we need to stop to save the world – but no mention we are the world’s biggest emitters per capita.

    They talk about a pause in climate warming since 1998, but we have had ten of the hottest years since then. They ignore the rate of warming of 1.0 degrees in 60 years, which is 20 times faster than any increase in warming over time (eg, Medieval Warming, etc)

    It amazes me that these people continue to air their ignorance in public time after time with no shame. And they cannot be told, because the truth destroys their business model or their political ambitions.

  4. Andrew J Smith

    Few if any MPs nowadays, are empowered or enabled to develop, enact and implement well grounded and informed policy from grass roots e.g. branches, that can be acceptable to and for the benefit of broader society (except maybe an ever ageing culturally specific electorate).

    Abbott not only displays paranoia and hubris of the ‘zero sum’ neo white nativist evangelical conservative Christian insurgencies, infecting US, UK and Australia, but how their tentacles have spread via the IPA, fossil fuel/auto corporates, political operators and media to gridlock parliamentary democracy while maintaining skip ‘cultural specificity’ amongst ageing elites that count (now Catholics and Jews are welcome into the WASP hierarchy at least to make up the numbers).

    The problem with their ideology, that ignores or supports fossil fuel, avoids science and anti climate change policies, while retaining and/or consolidating power with ageing culturally specific upper age median voters (scaring them via print, radio and FTA tv), is that top down autocracy does not work very well…… evidenced by sub-optimal outcomes and responsible MPs looking like sock puppets as they have no ownership in tactics and policies, just remaining in power and employment (unless as some have suggested, an appointed permanent Senate of respected elders to make decisions because politicians cannot be trusted; Nazis had similar arguments to support dictatorship).

    While branches and related grass roots are actively hollowed out to be unattractive to most people, with sketchy if any media reporting, MPs and parties will remain owned and manipulated by the likes of the IPA, NewsCorp et al., micro parties and influence of tactics used by the white nativist Christian extremists who can view e.g. Merkel and the Pope as enemies in the face of fascism and sub-optimal moral compasses?

  5. wam

    the rabbott is amoral and not complicated:
    He knows nothing science does is without god’s will.
    He knows that nothing man does can destroy the world only god will destroy his creation.
    He knows that opus dei cannot lie because he speaks for god who puts the purpose in his life so that his words are the truth or will lead to the truth.
    The rabbottians I know post exclusively hard right slogans. Their reason is ‘they like the words’. When I point out the purpose and meaning of the words and describe the politics of the site, the reaction is ”who cares I just like the words and there is no politics in it for me’.
    All of these people sharing far right propaganda are long term footballers and sportswomen, including Aborigines They never admit to watching or listening to the ABC because to them fair means channel 9 news and sunrise from 7 and the nt news with tlob a favourite
    Rupert, the rabbott and hanson speak their language and they believe they are telling the truth. In their words the very people I know as full of bullshit and outright lies are ‘telling it as it is’ and you might not like it but it is the truth.

  6. Zathras

    Abbott is a prime example of someone with cognitive dissonance and terminal self-interest.

    He says that Global Warming doesn’t exist at the same time he claims it’s beneficial.
    He claims to be a Christian yet displays none of that religion’s professed values.
    He says he’s working to help the Government yet constantly makes statements to undermine it.
    Almost everything he says is tailored to what he thinks his audience wants to hear rather than the plain truth.
    It’s time he was seen and no longer heard or at least challenged to justify his statements.
    He’s now irrelevant to the political and policy-making process and is just a spokesman for the angry and disenfranchised with nowhere else to go.
    He’s more embittered than Mark Latham but with much lower apparent intelligence.

    As for Australia’s “small” contribution to carbon emissions, we are still about number 16 out of 195 countries in the world for total emissions. Therefore there are 178 countries with lower emissions than us so if we think we deserve “a pass”, then there are a lot more with a much greater claim.
    The total emissions of those 178 countries are about 23% of the global total but we want just a few to do all the heavy lifting while we carry on with business as usual.

    Also, since almost all our manufacturing and industrial processes have been outsourced (mainly) to China then a proportion of their emissions really “belong” to us as well, increasing our responsibility even further.

  7. Peter F

    The one fact that eases my fear is the fact that the people of Australia are moving towards renewables at a pace which already makes these fossils ( both fuel and political) redundant. IT is already too late for their coal based economy. They are like those who insisted that the car would never replace horses as a means of transport.

  8. Harquebus

    “sacrificing our industries and our living standards to the climate gods”
    This is exactly what we must do. The very same industries that renewable energy advocates must save in order to continue their endeavors which, they have absolutely no chance of completing.

    “There is no point in saving the planet if we ruin the economy doing it.” — former NSW Premier Morris Iemma

  9. helvityni

    Yes, Peter F, looking out of my upstairs office window, I witness yet another roof being covered by solar panels almost daily, at times some extra ones are added…
    It warms my heart, I almost feel some ugly Schadenfreude towards our Government; people are more clever than you are with your Fifties mentality…

  10. helvityni

    I wonder what people thought of our ex-PM, Abbott, in London; plenty of comedy sketches in the making about Down Under…no doubt…

    I remember the World leaders a couple years ago at a Brisbane conference avoiding him like a mangy street dog….

  11. Kaye Lee

    Guest,

    I can give the source of Flannery’s comments and put them in context rather than the line that Bolt repeated out of context. It came from a Feb 2007 Landline interview with Flannery in which Flannery said:

    “We’re already seeing the initial impacts and they include a decline in the winter rainfall zone across southern Australia, which is clearly an impact of climate change, but also a decrease in run-off. Although we’re getting say a 20 per cent decrease in rainfall in some areas of Australia, that’s translating to a 60 per cent decrease in the run-off into the dams and rivers. That’s because the soil is warmer because of global warming and the plants are under more stress and therefore using more moisture. So even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems.”

    Bolt also likes to point to rainfall events as proving Flannery wrong, This is what the IPCC said: “To summarize the rainfall results, drier conditions are anticipated for most of Australia over the 21st century. However, consistent with conclusions in WGI, an increase in heavy rainfall also is projected, even in regions with small decreases in mean rainfall. This is a result of a shift in the frequency distribution of daily rainfall toward fewer light and moderate events and more heavy events. This could lead to more droughts and more floods.”

  12. Egalitarian

    For me The Computer geeks a ruining the world with all this one upmanship technology.Because they’re dime dozen and they can’t see the big picture.They the geeeks, also don’t realize they are being manipulated by the big multinational companies to scew our lives up with ever changing stupid must have technology and the inbuilt obsilecence of all this crap.These past 20 years has been perfect fodder to pull the wool over our eyes because many of us are constantly in a flusters trying to keep up with all this tech bullshit.Neo Con’s love chaos because it’s the best way to manipulate big changes.Most of us have heads down looking at some device or another.Many like me struggle with the changing of it all.So this is the perfect time for Big power with the help the of ego puppets like Tony Abbott to kick in the head of climate change science.It seems the more technology that gets introduced the more dumbed down we become.Perfect time for bad people to do bad things like Abbott and Co.

  13. Aortic

    I agree helvityni. I well remember this goose complaining to world leaders about his inability to pass his no doubt progressives policies ( according to him) because of a recalcitrant Senate. I understand that Obama and Putin are still losing sleep over this very fact. I well remember another leaders conference somewhere in Europe I think it was, where it was patently obvious that none of them wanted to be anywhere near Abbott. I am sure the rest of the world is thinking exactly the same thing about the POTUS.

  14. Roswell

    Egalitarian, it’s not the geeks you have to worry about – it’s the hackers (and I’m not talking about the 2016 US election).

    One day I’ll get around to finishing a post I started: “Predicters if war … or why invade a country when you can take it over with a computer?”

    It’s very scary what they can do.

  15. Egalitarian

    Roswell Hackers are Geeks as well.Just follow human nature and the money trail. Geeks, hackers love all this stuff.And they do this trickery for nothing and if there is a dollar in it,even better.Throw in currupt governments like Russia, China and North Korea and unscrupulous buninesses;anything is possible.

  16. Roswell

    Egalitarian, I’m a bit of a geek but I’d hardly think I’m ruining the world.

    This geek is only concerned about boring things like SEO (search engine optimisation) or programs like Microsoft’s Project, Excel and Access.

    At work I was considered the branch’s geek.

  17. Egalitarian

    Roswell. Well it’s not just about You. It’s time to start looking at the big picture.The Microsoft Outlook email site is an absolute joke.The new things and name changes.How about keeping things simple ? Your all like junkies and you can’t get enough.Your like pigs in the mud.It’s all so painfully childish with all these tech options overload.

  18. guest

    Kaye, thank you for the Flannery reference. The denier technique of misquoting is mischievous because too often people have not always heard or read what was said, or they have forgotten. Consequently the “quotation” is passed around like chinese whispers. Someone hearing it at a distance for the first time might well believe it is true. This may well be the case when the original statement is never actually published in some media because it is too inconvenient.

    Another example is the so-called “hypocrisy” of Flannery because he lives near water and the deniers thought that the water would rise overnight tomorrow and flood him out.

    Of course so much of this twaddle also depends on a high degree of ignorance for it to take root. If the Murdoch media were to publish a genuine outline of what the IPCC is saying, the negativity expounded by Graham Lloyd would be killed off in no time. But that is not going to happen any time soon.

  19. silkworm

    Since when has Toe Knee ever cared about the welfare of the elderly? He will say the most ludicrous things just for political ends, and the end in this case is to destabilize Turnbull.

  20. Abu Seme Alakat

    “Even the rain that falls will not fill our dams and river systems” – but hear it from Professor FlimFlan himself:

  21. Kaye Lee

    Thank you for making the point of how dishonest Bolt is Abu Seme Alakat. He gives a five second clip of a sentence out of context which completely misrepresents what was being said at the time. Bolt is a f*cking moron and anyone who relies on him for their news is more interested in sensationalism than truth. I assume you read the quote in context that I gave earlier which shows it is Bolt, not Flannery, who is the flim-flam man.

  22. Roswell

    Egalitarian seems ‘Jacked off’ with me because I’m a geek.

  23. guest

    Thank you, Abu Seme Alakat, for drawing our attention not only to Bolt, but also to Bob Carter. Bolt is clearly a smug and fatuous showman. He plays tricks of the kind Kaye and I mentioned above. He takes snippets out of context and claims they tell the whole story.

    For example, Bolt claims Flannery said that there would not be enough rain to fill the dams. When would there be not enough rain? That summer, the next summer, next year…never? And where has Flannery a house on the water’s edge? Thirty cms above, or one metre, or five metres…or ten? How much? Neither Bolt nor Carter actually say. But we do know there is sea rise occurring, despite what Abbott’s photographs tell him.

    And Bolt and Carter both say there has been no rise in temperature over the past 10 years. Was this said in 2011, when we had already had 1998, the year the deniers love to quote as the hottest? Since 1998 to now we have had at least 10 of the hottest years, and for Bolt to claim there have been a couple of years as hot as 20011 is to be rather deceitful.

    They both admit there has been meanwhile an 8% rise in CO2 and they wonder why there has been “no” rise in temperature – or do they mean heating. Because of course there has – just not in a straight upward line. The claim of there being a pause is just wrong.

    Carter shows his sceptical attitude by the very title of his book “Taxing Air”. It is a fatuous and poor attempt at humour. In his book he tries to tell us that CO2 is one of the powerful drivers of global warming, but the more of CO2 we have , the less its effect (from computer modelling in Chicago – the kind of modelling Carter disputes elsewhere).

    Carter also plays with words. He calls Flannery’s science “fairy tales” and questions the words “angry summer” as being unscientific. Never mind his own words and cartoons in his book. And Carter says there is no mention of CO2 or global warming in some report. Was it necessary just because Bolt and Carter wanted it?

    See how neither Bolt nor Carter actually disprove the science. They simply creep around the edges, getting all high and mighty about nothing.

  24. diannaart

    I was of the opinion there are good geeks and bad geeks, even fence sitting geeks… rather like other human beings…

  25. bobrafto

    Ever since Abbott started sniping I came to the conclusion that he was embarking on getting his job back and I believe he thought if Rudd could do it so could he plus he has the backing of Rupert and all the oxygen he wants.

    Up to Turnbull deposing Abbott Turnbull was softly advertising his brand daily on Fb and twitter now we see Abbott on twitter daily and possibly on Fb as I don’t follow the prick.

    Regardless of his unpopularity Abbott believes he can be PM again and that’s what drives him and if he does become PM again and to use Barnyard’s words it would be ‘malicious hate’ inflicted on the population.

  26. Roswell

    Dianna, I like to think I’m one of the good ones. ?

    Don’t know what harm I’m doing to the world by playing with a spreadsheet or a database.

  27. diannaart

    Geeks like knowledge, facts, investigation and outcomes, most scientists are geeks – the world needs more geeks (because most of them ARE good) and I know what I am talking about

    😛

  28. Egalitarian

    Hackers are geeks and they can all be manipulated by inducements ! Yes not all geeks are bad.

  29. Jenny Stirling

    Abbott always was a boxer. He loves to fight which is what he did as Opposition leader. Now in his inestimable wisdom, he has decided to win against Turnbull by attacking values which Turnbull holds dear. Climate change action is a policy that Turnbull lost the leadership over. But Abbott has forced him to change tack and it hurts to the extentnthat he has lost a great dwal of credibility. Abbott wins!

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