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If not now, when?

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:

BandtTweet1

(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’.

Rangeoftweets

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climate change deniers and would hate to have to confront the possibility that their denial is completely and utterly outdated, debunked, discredited and most importantly dangerous.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:

SegaertTweet2

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:

SharwoodTweet3

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.

[twitter-follow screen_name=’Vic_Rollison’ show_count=’yes’]

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56 comments

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  1. panzeroo

    I am as I type in the potential path of the Lithgow fires in the Blue Mountains. For the last few hours I have been soaking all the ground around my house to try and prevent any embers sparking a fire tonight. There is a lot of quiet anxiety in this house. But I will say that Abbott and the LNP are not helping what is happening this fire season and more importantly nothing Abbott and the LNP are doing will help next season, or any fire season for the rest of history. Nothing rises my anger more then the thought of seeing that supreme liar Abbott prancing about in a firies outfit. and charging the tax payers for his prancing. The people in this part of the world who deny climate change and who think bushfires have always happen are not locals. This is October…its Spring…we have a long hot summer still to come. It has never been this bad so soon.

  2. Stuart Dean

    Thank you for this article, Victoria. We must not let the fact of climate change escape attention. Adam Bandt’s post was relevant. I was once howled down by a ‘Friend’ for linking Clive James’ emphysema to Abbotts’ plan to repeal plain packaging on cigarettes. I thought it was relevant but ‘friend’ (also HIS friends) attacked me for turning a moving interview into political point-scoring.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-03/clive-james-reflects-on-confronting-his-mortality/4929264

  3. Anomanderanomander64

    So, when is it acceptable to make a correlation between events and climate change, or isn’t anyone permitted to make any link at all because to do so adds evidence to support the case, and we all know the deniers don’t want evidence – their beliefs and opinions are sufficient.

  4. Victoria Rollison

    Climate change is not about political point scoring and those who want to talk about it should not be accused of playing a game.

  5. Dan Rowden

    Bandt’s tweet was stupid and insensitive and purely about political point scoring. I defy anyone to demonstrate a correlation between Climate Change and October bush fires in NSW. Seriously.

    The bush-fire danger period for NSW has long since been October 1 to March 31.

    http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/dsp_content.cfm?cat_id=1180

    There is never a wrong time to talk about Climate Change, but the way you do it matters. Best not to do it in such a way that it makes you look like a moron.

  6. CMMC

    Southern Oscillation Index is uncontested science.

    It produces drought conditions on either sides of the Pacific.

    It also produces billions of dollars of agricultural welfare.

    How is it that one aspect of the atmospheric sciences is so heavily contested while blank cheques are being written to another field?

  7. jane

    Adam Bandt was right to ask the question and to try to initiate the conversation we need to have about climate change and its effect on our lives. What is happening now will become more frequent if we ignore the reality of climate change.

    This is not political point scoring; it’s about the sort of future we can look forward to if we bury our heads in the sand.

  8. Ann

    I’ve never known bush fires this early in the season. I live in Newcastle and find it impossible to understand people speaking about each other this way. I admire Adam Bandt for standing up for what he believes. I believe we need to do something more about climate change that what the libs are offering. In the end the tax payer will pick up the tab for anything the libs put in place. Thoughts to all those that are caught up in these fires and for those who have lost everything.

  9. Pierre

    You people are a bunch of liars, insensitive, and not fit to be members of humanity. You are using human tragedy to try and put forward your unproven assertions on “climate change”. Furthermore, you are all saying this has “never occurred before”. Oh really? So the carbon emissions have increased and therefore this has resulted in bushfires. Can you kindly point me to the evidence that proves these wildly and inaccurate assertions.

    I suggest you read this *, and then tell me how this occurred in 1968 in October(45 years ago), and then tell me was this the result of “climate change” also, when there was less CO2 in the environment around Winmalee, less human beings residing in Sydney, NSW, & Australia.

    You people will do anything to political point score and use the unproven “science” so that you can gain more votes. It is absolutely disgusting and disgraceful. You people need to learn the difference of what a fact is and what a theory is. Furthermore, in the past few months there have been numerous bushfires and in the majority of cases arson was the cause. There have been no investigations yet as to what has caused these fires, yet you people have already concluded that it’s “climate change” despite there having been no investigations conducted in to what has started these fires, much like the “science” on climate change where the actual science remains unproven, and where anyone including numerous climatologists that disagrees with the pro global warming lobby is attacked in a disgusting and scurrilous manner. You people should hang your heads in shame using human tragedy to score political points. The worst part in all of this is the actual lack of empathy for the people who have lost their property, possibly their homes, and in some cases their loved ones, and your complete & utter disregard for human compassion in such times aptly demonstrates that you are not fit to be called human, you’re grossly disrespectful and you stand condemned.

    * http://www.winmaleerfs.com.au/WinmaleeRFB_history.html
    1968

    In 1968 the Blue Mountains were struck by the most disastrous wildfire since 1957. The fire started in October out of the southern extension of a fire at Bilpin and crossed the Grose River to the outskirts of North Springwood (Winmalee) on October 28. During the next fortnight, the fire slowly burned in a south-westerly direction and on November 14 made a run across the Nepean River north of Castlereagh and burned almost to the Penrith-Windsor road. The western edge of the fire in the Grose continued to burn slowly in a south-westerly direction until November 28, when after burning out a huge tract of land north of the Great Western Highway, the fire made a final run out of Linden Creek, crossing the highway at Faulconbridge at 9 a.m. The fire wasn’t stopped until 3 p.m. on that day after it had reached lightly timbered country on the eastern side of the Penrith-Wallacia road.

    The fire claimed the lives of three volunteer firemen, razed more than 70 houses to the ground and destroyed 9,300 hectares of bushland. North Springwood Brigade (Winmalee) played its part in fighting the fire with both volunteer firemen and equipment

    Don’t let the facts of the matter get in the way of your filthy disgusting lies.

  10. rossleighbrisbane

    Thanks, Pierre. It’s always good when people don’t resort to name calling and assertions of their own opinion as though it matters more than the facts. I particularly liked your bit about “not fit to be members of humanity”. It added so much to your argument and enabled us to see how calm and reasoned your arguments are.
    Using human tragedy to advance a political argument is indeed shameful. Our current PM would never do that! The deaths of the workers who were installing home insulation, of course was an exception. No as soon as someone dies, that topic is clearly off limits.

  11. Anomander

    So Pierre,

    When exactly is an appropriate time to discuss climate change?

    If it is raised in winter, the denialist movement all scream; “But It’s cold!”.

    If it is raised when it’s hot, the cry from the same people is; “I remember it being much hotter when I was a kid”.

    When it floods, the denialists all misquote Tim Flannery about damns being dry.

    When a drought strikes, they cite the floods in Queensland to try and counteract any argument.

    If anyone is telling “filthy disgusting lies”, it is the denialist movement, ably supported by complicit mainstream media – hell bent on sensationalising every disaster as “the worst on record”.

    Bandt’s statement is about the volume scientific of evidence pointing to increased incidence of bushfires. This same statement made repeatedly by the greens over the past 10 years. You choose to take offence now because it is convenient for you to confect outrage.

    And now, we have the usual shock jocks foaming at the mouth about “Greenies stopping backburning and causing these disasters”. The extremists never let a good disaster distract them from attacking progressive policies and parties.

  12. rossleighbrisbane

    As for something being unproven and not a fact, almost all that we take as scientific “knowledge” is a theory and not a fact.
    And who is this “pro global warming lobby” to which you refer? Does it include the fossil fuel industry? Most people I know are against global warming…

  13. cornlegend

    A friend of mine who has been a strong environmentalist from before Adam Bandt was even born suffered property damage in yesterdays bushfires.
    She found his comments to be “ill timed”
    I am the first one willing to lay the boot into Abbott for any bloody thing.
    I think a bit of common sense in the timing of Bandts statements could have , at least been a wee bit more sensitive to the victims.

  14. Kaye Lee

    Pierre what a load of emotive rubbish. For starters, who are “you people”? The people who care about our country and what is happening to it? No-one is saying there have never been bushfires and floods before. What all the experts are saying is that these natural disasters will increase in number and intensity. Yes, some fires are caused by arson, but the arsonist didn’t cause the hot weather and winds and dry conditions that allow those fires to become catastrophic events. To say we show no empathy towards the victims is ridiculous. It is precisely because we DO care that this conversation must be had.

    You say the science of climate change is unproven. You are very wrong about that. Not only do all climate scientists agree (other than those being paid by the fossil fuel industry), the economists have also urged the world to take urgent action because the cost of not acting will be disastrous. I could provide links to countless articles by scientists and financial bodies but I suspect I would be wasting my time as deniers seem able to ignore the overwhelming evidence, preferring to believe the likes of Bolt and Jones who have no qualifications and who have both been rebuked for their lies and misrepresentations.

    We need to take urgent action on climate change as part of a global response. Tony Abbott intends introducing legislation in a few weeks time which will destroy our actions so far and see us abrogating our responsibilities to the rest of the world. NOW is the time we must speak about climate change and the horrendous outcome of not acting.

    Whatever myths you have chosen to believe will appear on this list. I suggest you look up your favourite deniers excuse and read the actual true science which debunks it.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

  15. rossleighbrisbane

    Yes, I do understand that those suffering a tragedy or loss may feel that anyone commenting from the outside is lacking sensitivity. But it’s also a bit like messages on the road toll. Should the police not comment or issue warnings when there’s a terrible smash invovling a drink driver, out of sensitivity for those close to the victims?

  16. cornlegend

    rossleighbrisbane

    “Should the police not comment or issue warnings when there’s a terrible smash invovling a drink driver,”
    Of course they should.
    Just as Fire services, Police etc did yesterday.

    Would it be appropriate for a politician to stand amongst the carnage and comment ?
    I personally think not.

    The police can make a direct correlation to the accident and the drunk driver.

    The fires yesterday cannot show a direct link.

  17. Aaron Press

    If the LNP don’t believe in climate change and Tony Abbott says it’s “crap”. Then why do they plan to waste billions of tax payers dollars on something they don’t believe in. That’s the part I don’t understand.
    Whether you believe in climate change or not the environment needs our protection and the carbon tax at least worked and made those who pollute to change there ways or pay.

  18. Kaye Lee

    Yesterday I had visitors one of whom’s brother’s house was under threat in the fires. They lost sheds, cars, and animals but the house was saved. The conversation on my verandah was very much about Tony’s plan to stop action on climate change and about the dangers facing us this summer and into the future. I do not think it inappropriate to have this conversation now. It doesn’t mean we have no compassion for those whose lives and property are lost or in danger. There will never be a time when people are not suffering from the effects of climate change. That time has passed. We must take action to address the increasing threat and there will be debate and voting on legislation in a few weeks.

    I would also like to know how Clive Palmer and/or his senators can possibly have a vote on this issue as Clive has a supreme court action going disputing his 6.2 million dollar carbon tax bill that he refused to pay, as well as awaiting approval for his 6 billion dollar coal mine in the Galilee Basin which has been held up due to concerns about the water trigger.

  19. NatalieW

    Hello Cornlegend. Causal link or direct link ?

    Adam Bandt’s article appeared in The Guardian before the main fires started and I’m guessing it wasn’t written the minute before. So, maybe the article was more prophetic than anyone is giving Bandt credit for ?

    I also see that The Australian has no trouble publishing the rants of the Port Stevens councillor blaming the “greenies” for preventing hazard reduction burns. Even though the statement has been disputed by both the RFS and National Parks as incorrect.

    It appears if you blame climate change for these disasters you are insensitive, if you blame the “greenies” you make a valid point.

  20. cornlegend

    NatalieW

    “It appears if you blame climate change for these disasters you are insensitive, if you blame the “greenies” you make a valid point.”
    Where did I do that ?
    I am a 100 % supporter of action on Climate.
    I am 110% opposed to Abbott.

    Just think we need to gain supporters to the cause, not alienate them.

  21. cornlegend

    There are areas of concern re Climate Change that we all are aware of.
    The warming waters, The Great Barrier Reef etc.and many more .
    I thought the idea was to win supporters to the cause.
    Bandt could have bored into Abbott and his neanderthal policies, and probably picked up a few supporters on the way.
    To specifically target the NSW fires, and the currently unfolding drama, and pictures didn’t help.
    All it did was get the natives restless.
    Check social media, he created enemies to the cause, which isn’t needed.
    What happens, tomorrow, if it turns out these fires were started by an arsonist ?
    Wouldn’t that give the right wing loonies a field day.
    Climate Change is a global problem,
    lets address that, without the need for isolated issues like yesterdays.
    Surely the idea is to win friends to the cause, not create more enemies.
    Bandt is cluey enough on Climate Change to address the overall issues, and where Abbott has gone wrong,

  22. NatalieW

    Cornelegend, I know your background and I often read and appreciate your comments.

    The statement I made regarding differential views was referring to The Australian newspaper.

  23. Geoff Of Epping

    Notice the responses to his tweet are all from old white blokes?

  24. Kaye Lee

    cornie I agree with you on most things but on this one I cannot. Pointing to the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and natural disasters surely must be part of the discussion. All Adam Bandt said was that inaction on climate change will lead to more bushfires. He didn’t say “this government has the blood of 1000 people on their hands” – that was Tony on asylum seekers. He didn’t say “this government is responsible for the deaths of four home insulation installers” – that was Tony on Pink Batts. Those comments were offensive and most definitely political point-scoring. There is a vast difference.

  25. Kaye Lee

    “Would it be appropriate for a politician to stand amongst the carnage and comment ?”

    Well if there was a section of road where there were multiple accidents then yes it would be appropriate for politicians to comment on fixing that section of road. If it was shown that truck drivers are being forced to work unsafe hours then yes it would be appropriate for politicians to comment and take action. If drink driving was involved then yes it is appropriate for politicians to review the penalties and preventative measures. The police and fire personnel may not make political judgements or comments. They will not discuss legislation. They do not make the laws. That is up to the politicians.

  26. cornlegend

    NatalieW
    sorry about that.
    I misread it 😀

  27. cornlegend

    Kaye Lee
    Bandt directly linked the fires {and pics} of yesterdays fires.
    It is very likely Climate Change played its role.
    But it isn’t proven , in these fires.
    Bandt said ‘more fires for Australia and more pics like these of Sydney”
    People have interpreted that as ‘climate change caused this”
    As a Global problem, Bandt didn’t have to be specific.
    you said
    “politicians to comment on fixing that section of road”
    totally agree.
    But can Bandt stand amongst the embers, and say, “this was climate change ”
    There is a difference.
    If an arsonist is arrested tomorrow, does that prove climate change doesn’t cause fires ?
    I think not, but would MSM and the right loonies agree ?
    hardly
    Just feel the only way to have any hope of bringing Abbott under control on this issue, is the support of the masses.
    Don’t need to piss off a whole bunch

  28. cornlegend

    Kaye Lee
    guess you and I will have to agree to disagree on this one 😀
    We will probably be back in sync, on the next issue 🙂

  29. rossleighbrisbane

    I guess the thing that worries me most – and I do have some sympathy for anyone complains when a politician overlooks people’s suffering to make a political point – is the massive double standard exhibitted by the MSM and some of the Liberal supporters.
    We had Bolt suggesting that Labor had “blood on its hands” when an asylum seeker vessel sank, and we had Abbott bringing up the fires and deaths in relation to the insulation scheme. But let someone who isn’t on the “Right” side of politics link a tragedy to a party’s policies and it’s just obscene!!
    I can appreciate that Bandt’s comments may seem ill-timed to some, and I’m certainly prepared to consider the arguments.
    But not from people who’ve supported Abbott’s crocodile tears over the deaths of poorly trained workers.

  30. janeL

    I seem to remember there was no shortage of discussion about gun control in the US from commentators and politicians in the wake of the Newtown school mass shooting – and indeed mass shootings in the US since then. A range of people considered it the right time, including the devastated families of victims.

  31. Linda williams

    We live in a country where anti science is now endorsed by Prime Minister. What hope?

  32. Dan Rowden

    The issue here, aside from that of the insensitivity of the timing of Brandt’s comment is this:

    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.

    Historical local weather events are not necessarily linked to Climate Change effects. It takes time and research to establish a causal link. The question is: if Climate Change effects stopped or were reversed overnight, would October bushfires still occur in NSW? The answer to that question is an emphatic, “yes”. Pointing to every localised extreme weather event as evidence of Climate Change is bad science, and Climate Change proponents ought not indulge in it. Handing deniers any opportunity to legitimately criticise is bad, counterproductive strategy. We do not need to exploit the tragedy of destroyed lives in NSW to point out that the Coalition’s Climate Change policies are worthless pieces of shit. How could any reasonable person have any expectation that a political group currently controlled by climate skeptics could ever produce policy on Climate Change that was anything more than political tokenism?

    Anyway, I’m off to plant some trees to negate the effects of the hot air I’m blowing out. I figure if I plant six thousand an hour for the next 12 years it should be about right. I might even collect a few discarded aluminium cans and make a few bucks on the side.

  33. mikestasse

    Well, believe me, even people endangered by these fires are talking about limate change…… one friend who was threatened by fire (which passed just 400m from his house) wrote this (only a small part) to me in an email response to my concern over their safety on Thursday:

    As we had been away overseas for the past 2 months, the gutters were pretty full, but were soon cleared.
    We soon had one , then two, then three helicopters with water bombing capacity overhead and later ELVIS’ the really big snorkel , helicopter, water bomber arrived. This saved a lot of houses from destruction.
    All but one of these amazing pieces of technology disappeared in the late afternoon, as soon as the pressing danger had moved to Bargo, were they were needed more.
    It’s a credit to all involved and to the state government for the funding to allow all this technology to happen.
    Even though they are right wing and deniers of climate change or increased global temperatures. This is very early in the year for such hot windy weather.

    I don’t think Steve would’ve thought Adam Bandt’s tweet was “insensitive”.

  34. king1394

    Even people who don’t think about it much are beginning to accept that climate change plays a part in the increasing number and intensity of extreme events. It’s obvious that if we are having record breaking high temperatures and extremely dry periods combined with violent winds in spring, than climate is changing.
    One lady interviewed yesterday commented that she’d gone to work thinking that it was ‘just another summer day’ – in spring???
    If we refuse to name a problem, how do we deal with it. People only take notice when they are affected. Forget good taste.

  35. Kaye Lee

    I found out yesterday that a good friend has breast cancer. Should I ring her or would it be insensitive to talk about it right now? Should I wait until after this session of chemo? I realise this is not a particularly good analogy but my point is that we cannot falter in insisting on action on climate change and I fail to see how Adam Bandt’s tweet is in poor taste. As Natalie points out, the article was published on Wednesday before the bad fires started and is not linked to them. His tweet only suggests that repealing the carbon tax and failing to take action on climate change will lead to more bushfires as stated in his article.

    “The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) predicts that under extreme climate change, the kind of bushfires we saw in Victoria on Black Saturday may happen on average once every two years (and we shouldn’t forget that more people died from the summer’s heatwave than the fires themselves). ”

    Having lost one home to fire, I have great sympathy for those facing similar devastation. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that we can say climate change caused this fire, but I do think that climate change is contributing to unseasonable weather making the bush tinder dry with hot winds adding to the mix. We have had fires in October before but it seems like there are catastrophic bushfires every year now as opposed to it being a relatively rare event.

    I am thankful for the Greens stance on climate change and I fervently hope that Labor remains staunch in their support for action.

  36. PeterF

    Pierre,
    I may be a bit confused, but it would appear that these fires seem to be well before those in1968 which, by your own quote, STARTED 28th October and burned until November 28. How much earlier should these current fires be before people are allowed to state that they are ‘the earliest I have experienced?’

    The information that you rely on would suggest that you might be the last person to state “Don’t let the facts of the matter get in the way of your filthy disgusting lies.”

  37. johnlord2013

    No time like the present.

  38. GregS

    Of concern here is the comments about the fires ‘starting’ in October. Has everyone forgotten that the fire season this year actually started in the second week of September (on the 10th) with several large blazes in Sydney’s west (http://www.smh.com.au/environment/bushfires-threaten-sydneys-western-suburbs-nsw-rural-fire-service-issues-emergency-warnings-20130910-2thnl.html), which is well and truly before these blazes (5 weeks earlier) and well before any other ‘seasonal’ repeat of fire in the Sydney region.
    While the NSW Fire season runs from October, the season applies to all of NSW, not necessarily just (or even to) the Sydney Region. Having lived and worked in the north of the state, the October period is quite suitable for fire concerns in the Grafton and Moree areas, where winters are typically dry and fuel cures well in warmer winter weather. However, those regions are 800-1000km north of Sydney, in a very different climate (savannah or seasonal rainfall zones unlike Sydney’s supposed mild to cool, damp winters).
    It is not that the carbon tax would necessarily stop any changes that will occur, but it may help moderate them, like adding an ice cube to a drink doesn’t make the whole thing freeze but tempers the drink and makes it more pleasant. By taxing the generators of one of the main substances shown to cause long wave radiation trapping by the atmosphere, or other substances which do the same, we are putting the onus on them to clean up their act. If we pay higher prices in selecting their products then maybe it means THE MARKET drives action – something the neo-cons were all for I thought. Instead, Abbott’s plans (what we know of them) have large numbers of people planting timber vegetation around the landscape. Well, surely that is going to need water to grow (it’s been a bit dry in these parts…) and when they do grow, become timber fuel more widely spread across the landscape, allowing these fires to spread more readily. Surely that part is also understood by those advocating ‘Direct Action’?
    I grew up in the blue Mountains and know almost all the fires since 1977 intimately – often from being within the ember zone. I also think that now is the time to talk about the issues – because what we’ve provided to the atmosphere is only continuing to show us that we aren’t always in charge. With lag times in the system, we’re only starting to see the edge of what we have already pushed into the system. After all, these environmental lags are likely to be 30 to 50 years at least (the ‘generation time’ of a typical Australian woodland or forest), suggesting that the main effects of climate-disrupting processes of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries aren’t even showing up yet…

  39. Ken Brown

    Pierre, you are an idiot.

    Victoria, you are absolutely correct. There are obviously many Australians that need to be hit with a brick before they take notice of something as important as the future of our environment, future of our Country and future of our Planet.

    This might not be a big enough brick to alter Abbott’s tactics, but with enough pressure almost anything can happen…..keep trying for common sense (or maybe it should be termed “uncommon sense.”)

  40. DC

    The Coalition want to write the history books for us and are telling us that the 2013 election was a “referendum on the carbon tax” and that now “the people have spoken” and we must all “repent” by abolishing this “toxic tax” but I wonder what % of those who voted for Abbott did so on the basis of wanting to abolish the carbon tax and out of those who did, I’d be surprised if more than 10% had any understanding of how a carbon price actually works let alone what the alternative Direct Action would cost if the coalition are to keep their promise of delivering the same CO2 reduction outcome of 5% below 2000 levels by 2020.

    Firstly it will require an extra layer of government bureaucracy delegated with the task of deciding which “initiatives” taken by our various polluting industries are most deserving of tax payer funded handouts. Besides the logistical difficulties of Direct Action as compared to a much simpler plan of charging polluters for each ton of CO2, there is a much more sinister outcome. That being that the emerging renewable energy industry is severely disadvantaged. Charging a carbon price can level the playing field between coal-fired power and renewable energy. When you take away the carbon price renewable energy becomes less competitive. Some would (and do) argue that it is only fair that renewable energy should have to compete without an “artificial” advantage but they are ignoring the textbook economic theory regarding “externalities” which logically states that if one type of production (in this case coal fired power) results in an external cost to a third party (C02 pollution which is a long term cost to everyone) then it is an example of “market failure” which can only be corrected when the government charges a reasonable price to the producer that is representative of the externalised costs. Otherwise you have a situation where one competitor (renewable energy) has to pay for all their own costs of production but another competitor (coal fired power) only has to pay for their own direct production costs while leaving others to deal with their externalised costs (CO2 pollution).

    Another disadvantage to renewable energy projects under Direct Action policy is that ironically they can never qualify for any of the tax payer funded handouts which are reserved only for polluting industries. Unfortunately it gets even worse. Not only does coal fired power get to pollute for free and qualify for handouts which are not available to renewable energy but the fact is they are already getting handouts from tax payers. John Howard supported a carbon price (albeit on the 11th hour). Malcolm Turnbull has always advocated for one until his recent silence on the subject. Even former Liberal PM Malcolm Frazer and former Liberal Leader Dr John Hewson have both publicly supported carbon pricing and condemned Direct Action for being the con job that it is.

    As we now know in 2009 a close majority Liberal MPs (many representing certain private interests tied to fossil fuel industries) replaced Malcolm Turnbull with Tony Abbott based upon their opposing views on this very issue. Once Tony Abbott was in charge of the Liberals and backed by the Murdoch propaganda machine they started deafening our ears on a daily basis about the carbon tax being a wrecking ball to the economy and that it would only send the polluting industries offshore (but this is another lie because trade exposed industries can apply for exemption). Tony Abbott gave us his “blood oath” to rescind the carbon tax and the polls always showed he was likely to win. In this environment, carbon pricing was never given much of a chance to entice any long term investment into large scale solar projects like the types we see operating successfully in countries such as Spain who are not blessed/burdened by an abundance of cheaply available coal. Projects such as Gama Solar are already providing reliable base-load power (that means day and night) at competitive prices per kilowatt hour.

    To realise the true potential of renewable energy in this country we need long term investors. Long term investment into renewable energy projects in a country like Australia with its abundant supplies of cheaply available coal and long established coal fired power industry requires long term certainty of a carbon price. In the UK and NZ carbon pricing has bipartisan support in fact the UK it was actually introduced by the Tories.

  41. DC

    Ahh but then again that sneaky Tony Abbott never actually “promised” he would meet the (already piss weak) 5% reduction from 2000 levels by 2020 that Labor had promised.

    Instead he allocated a $3.2 billion budget that would not even come close to achieving any reduction at all but then said he was “very confident” that the 5% reduction target was “doable” within this budget which has since been revised even further down. Now Abbot has promised that he will not exceed the budget for Direct Action if the CO2 reductions targets are missed meaning he is effectively abandoning climate policy.

    What Bill Shorten should do when the Libs want their support to abolish the carbon tax is call his bluff on his plan being “doable” by saying “ok Mr Abbott, if you want our support to remove carbon pricing we have but one simple request: that you promise to deliver the 5% target regardless of any blowouts to the Direct Action budget”. Then we will see if he really was “very confident” about how “doable” his plan was.

  42. DC

    Another point about Carbon pricing V’s Direct Action that is rarely acknowledged is that Carbon pricing does not involve a net cost to the nation as it creates a government income stream just like income tax, company tax and the GST do. Any cost endured by business or consumers as a result of carbon pricing can easily be offset by reductions in other taxes. Arguments about weather the government is spending too much or too little or about weather the rich or poor are paying too much tax or too little tax are a seperate issue altogether adjustments can always be made to the income tax structure. Carbon pricing is still and will always be the cheapest way to reduce CO2 pollution on a per ton basis because it gives everyone an incentive to do something about it not just the directors of polluting industries but also the consumers who decide how they can reduce their power consumption or invest in solar. In hindsight John Howard never should have introduced the GST in 1999 he should have instead introduced a carbon tax way back then. As I have mentioned in my previous post, there is no reason to fear that a carbon price might simply result in moving polluting industries overseas to countries with no carbon tax. If a company that is impacted by carbon pricing has to compete with other countries who don’t have carbon pricing then they can apply for offsets based on being a “trade exposed industry”. This however is not a problem for our biggest polluters (our coal fired power plants). They are not competing against foreign companies not subjected to carbon pricing they are are much more worried about local competition from the renewable energy industry taking some of their market share in the long term. And that is the whole point of carbon pricing. The fact that there is so much political opposition to carbon pricing tells me that far from viewing renewable energy as a pipe dream, some powerful interests out there see it as a genuine threat to their market share in years to come

  43. Fed up

    Any different to blaming Garret for the insulation workers deaths. Any different from saying that the people who dies in the boats where the fault of Rudd and Gillard.

    One Could ask, telling a woman. her father dies of shame, is ever justified.

    The truth is dealing with man made climate change has become politicized, when it should be judge on the science.

    It is not Brandt that has politicized the matter.

    Once again, it is not about a toxic non existent tax. It is about carbon emissions, and how we lower them.

  44. Fed up

    If I had an disease and if I did not take certain medication I would have a 90% of dying, I believe I would take the medication, even if it was bitter.

  45. Fed up

    It there was a big train smash to night, we would see tomorrows papers asking in headlines a mile high, how did this happen.

    There would be a witch hunt, until they found someone to blame.Would not be much consideration for the dead or injured.

    In fact, without Brandt or anyone mentioning it, people are asking themselves that question. Ids climate change real?

    Abbott and his ilk are terrified that people will begin to connect that great big toxic tax, to carbon emissions.

    If that does happen, he cannot win, no matter how many mandates he believes he has.

  46. Fed up

    “………..On Wednesday the new Abbott government issued its first document detailing its plans for the Direct Action Emission Reduction Fund – all one page of it.

    OK, there were really five pages. A cover page with pictures of people planting trees, followed by a blank page, then a page outlining the process for consultation, and then a page about confidentiality, followed by the final page.

    Thinking this last page would finally answer all my questions about the Direct Action abatement auction scheme I turned to it to find the following revelations filling the first two thirds of the page:

    a) climate change is occurring;………..”

    http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2013/10/17/policy-politics/direct-action-already-behind-schedule?utm_source=exact&utm_medium=email&utm_content=471375&utm_campaign=kgb&modapt=

  47. Fed up

    Must we take Abbott;s DA and promises to bring down carbon emission as an aspirational proposal?

  48. Kaye Lee

    Speaking of threats to market share, we have just given Tony Abbott the majority in the HoR and Clive Palmer the balance of power in the Senate. I feel like the lady who swallowed a spider to catch the fly. In all likelihood, the man who will ultimately decide if we should have a price on carbon is the man who is currently pursuing a supreme court challenge refusing to pay arrears of 6.2 million dollars he owes in carbon tax. His suit states that carbon pricing is unconstitutional. This is the same man who has substantial holdings in the Galilee Basin just waiting to ship 400 million tonnes of coal to China as soon as he and Newman can make Tony get round the water trigger “green tape” and those pesky people who say dredging and dumping it on the reef so lots of coal ships can travel through is bad.. Or perhaps his leader of the Senate, the “brick with eyes” will decide to actually read the legislation though at the moment he doesn’t have the time or interest as he is “enjoying time with his wife and family”. I WISH this was a Monty Python skit – The Ministry of Silly Buggers perhaps?

  49. Brenden Nickless

    I noticed this ‘Pierre’ fellow hasn’t replied to any of the people who have crushed his ‘argument’ into the dust. I suppose he deliberately ran out of ignorant, fearful old-world right-wing ideologies to throw around…
    Let’s stick to the real issue: This is only Spring. This needs to be addressed. We need all this old-world denial washed away.

  50. Dan Rowden

    Fed up,

    Must we take Abbott;s DA and promises to bring down carbon emission as an aspirational proposal?

    Yes, I think we can, if by “aspiration” we mean the pulmonary kind. i.e. they’re chocking on it.

  51. cornlegend

    This is from ABC News –
    “The Department of Defence is investigating whether an explosives training exercise on Wednesday started the fire burning near Lithgow.

    Defence has issued a statement saying its personnel were conducting explosive ordnance training at the Marangaroo Training Area on the day the State Mine Fire started.”

  52. cornlegend

    On October 18th 2013 as bushfires raged up and down the NSW east coast, the Abbott Government performed this act of bastardry.

    The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (the AGDRP) provides an immediate, one-off payment to Australians adversely affected by a major disaster. [ComLaw October 2013]

    Those who have lived through natural disasters before will note that the Abbott Government is no longer paying relief if the October 2013 bushfires in New South Wales have forced an individual or family out of their house for 24 hours or more, or if access to return home has been cut off or if they are stranded at home and unable to leave.

    http://northcoastvoices.blogspot.com.au/

  53. Kaye Lee

    With bushfires raging through NSW, firefighters usually receive warm welcomes but the Fire Brigade Employees Union said the opposite occurred at the Miranda by-election last Saturday.

    FBEU state president Darin Sullivan said members handing out “vote Liberals last” cards at polling booths were harassed by Liberal MP Brad Hazzard and other party members.

    Mr Sullivan accused the MP for Wakehurst of “bully tactics”.

    “He and other party members were going to each polling booth and taking down the names of every firefighter there,’’ he said.

    “They were getting up close and taking photos of our face without permission in order to report names and faces to the minister [of emergency services].

    “Mr Hazzard went to every booth to deliberately intimidate every firefighter,” he said.

    The firefighters were protesting the O’Farrell Government’s budget cuts that have taken stations in the electorate offline over 60 times this year.

    The union said their aim was for firefighters to be considered ‘‘frontline’’ staff, along with teachers and police, who are exempt from budget cuts.

    “We find it offensive to see Liberal MPs prancing out at the bushfires for the media when they’re cutting firefighting services,” Mr Sullivan said.

    Firefighters on poll booths

  54. Kaye Lee

    I have been thinking about when my father was diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t get all teary and sad. I said “What do we have to do now?”. I didn’t ignore the word cancer while having a family group hug. I asked every question I could think of including risk factors that may have implications for my brother and son. As his health eventually began to deteriorate I didn’t stop visiting. We adjusted our outings to what he could cope with. When he finally needed palliative care I learned to do whatever I could to be a part of that. After he was gone there was plenty of time for tears and to suffer from my loss. The point of this is that we all react differently in times of crisis. Should I have dissolved into a sobbing mess when dad was first diagnosed? Some people hug and shed tears, others spring into action doing what they can to help.

    Adam Bandt is a politician who, in a few weeks time, has to vote on legislation to repeal our first meagre attempts to address climate change. It is his job to decide on these matters and to inform the public as to why he is voting that way. In my view he is just doing what HE can do to address the situation. We need people to fight the fires, we need counsellors to help victims, we need aid workers to assist in the recovery process, but we also need politicians to adopt policies of preventative measures which minimise the risk of this happening in the future.

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