If it is the wrong time to talk about climate change while New South Wales is experiencing devastating October fires, then when is the right time? In fact, I can think of no better time to talk about climate change than today. While Abbott organises his government to repeal Labor’s Carbon Price, and while he bumbles around trying to make his Direct Action Policy look even half plausible, something he has failed to do in the previous six years, the news headlines are all about New South Wales bushfires. In October. But when someone bravely points out the link between climate change, and October bush fires, he is savagely rebuked in various different forms of shooting the messenger. In this case, the brave person is Green Adam Bandt, who linked this tweet to his article about how irresponsible Abbott is for reversing action to reduce the catastrophic effects of climate change. Catastrophic effects like bushfires:
(Click here to see the image shared in this tweet).
In response to this truth talking, Bandt got a range of negative responses, calling him everything from ‘grossly insensitive’ to liar, ‘hysterical’ and ‘scaremonger’.
I really don’t understand this reaction. Obviously I understand that most of these people are climate change deniers and would hate to have to confront the possibility that their denial is completely and utterly outdated, debunked, discredited and most importantly dangerous. But what about Anthony Sharwood, who claims to be an advocate of action against climate change? What could have offended him so badly about Bandt’s statement that would lead him to call Bandt grossly insensitive? Sharwood received this reply from another tweeter:
No need to talk about climate change now, when homes and LIVES are being lost? But climate change is the reason homes and lives are being lost. This is like saying we shouldn’t talk about drink driving when someone is killed by a drunk driver. I think you’ll find most families who are the victims of drink driving want police and law-makers to have a conversation about this blight on our community now. Not tomorrow. They might not be the ones having the conversation, but they definitely want it had, to stop others going through what they went through. And what about gun deaths? Should we wait until after a school massacre, when the victims are buried and no longer on the front page, before using the disgust over the tragedy to commit a community to take action to stop it happening again? If my house burnt down and if I lost someone I loved in the bushfires that are happening today in New South Wales, I would be too devastated, too busy and too stressed to talk about climate change myself. But I’m sure I would like the rest of Australia to do this talking for me. And I’m sure I would like them to start this conversation before the threat seems to have passed, when in reality the threat is not going anywhere and Abbott’s government is doing nothing about reducing it.
Let’s talk about Abbott’s rejection of the carbon price and not only what it will do to emissions in Australia, but also to the political will of other countries fighting for similar action. Let’s talk about the fraud of his Direct Action policy – a costly joke which no expert has been able to prove will come anywhere near meeting emission reduction targets. These targets are now promises which Abbott is busy backing away from. Abbott’s done a great job of making people scared of their electricity bills. And he’s done the most immoral thing possible in using this fear to win himself the job of Prime Minister, while playing down the risks of climate change. He’s taking us backwards, towards more danger, when he should be advocating plans to move forward. To do more, not less. And it’s not just Abbott. It’s Barry O’Farrell, one of the original deniers. It’s every Liberal who refuses to do the right thing, from Malcolm Turnbull who claims to passionately want action to reduce climate change yet wont cross the floor, to supposed scientist Dennis Jensen, resident Liberal climate change denier who criticised Abbott for not having a science minister. Because he wanted the job. This is who Australia elected as their government.
Let’s talk about the real thing we should be scared of for once. Climate change is here and we’re having bushfires in May and October. Remember when Bob Brown was called ‘insensitive’ in 2011 for linking the Queensland floods to climate change? Maybe those criticising him can explain to me why floods that happened almost three years ago haven’t yet generated that conversation about what caused them and what should be done to limit this happening again and again and again in the future. Maybe we should have talked about it at the time. Maybe we shouldn’t have shot down Brown for starting the discussion.
It’s time to stop pretending that those who are frightened about climate change are just being alarmist. It’s time to stop demanding facts when there are too many facts and too many reports collating these facts to know where to begin showing the facts. This is just stall tactics to stop having the conversation we need to have. It’s time to stop dumbing down the debate. It’s time to stop calling climate change scientists Henny Penny. It’s time to stop letting deniers get away with saying that we’ve always had floods and we’ve always had bushfires so the huge increase in bushfires and floods that we’re seeing on a global scale couldn’t possibly be evidence of exactly what scientists have been warning us about for years. No one is saying that the only reason natural disasters happen is because of climate change. But they are saying natural disasters will happen more often because of climate change, and this is exactly what we are seeing. So let’s talk about that. It’s seriously scary. Let’s not make that a reason not to talk about it.
Perhaps the most telling tweet of all was Sharwood’s suggestion:
Emergency passed. What, when the bushfires are no longer a threat? When climate change again recedes into the back of people’s mind as that thing that isn’t an emergency now, so isn’t worth even thinking of, let alone discussing? That thing that spawned a political policy that Abbott used to destroy Gillard’s credibility, and won an election over promising to delete? That thing that the Australian electorate would like to ignore? Except when there’s a bushfire or a flood. It’s time to stop enabling Australians in their quest to ignore. Let’s talk about climate change. Let’s talk about it now.
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