Manual for screwing the Earth – Part two: Strategies (iii)
By Elizabeth Dangerfield
Continued from Manual for screwing the Earth – Part two: Strategies (ii)
Strategy 3 – Suppress any possible opposition
You can really get some good tips on suppressing opposition to inaction on climate change from Australia’s last three prime ministers; Mr Abbott, Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison. They have got it down to a fine art. First get rid of independent commissions, councils and advisory bodies, watchdogs and the like that might tell you things that you do not want to hear. Mr Abbott abolished the Climate Commission. He also scrapped the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) which was set up to support new and emerging renewable technologies and scrapped the COAG Standing Council on Environment and Water as well as the National Water Commission.
Secondly, downgrade government commitments to doing something about climate change and in fact anything that protects the environment. Mr Abbott abolished key ministerial positions of climate change and science. He started dismantling Australia’s world leading marine protection system and downgraded national environment laws. Mr Abbott also overturned the “critically endangered” listing of the Murray Darling Basin. He requested the delisting of World Heritage status for Tasmanian forests, defunded all international environmental programs and slashed the Biodiversity Fund. Mr Turnbull removed emissions reduction target from National Energy Guarantee and dumped the Clean Energy Target. The NSW Government is drafting legislation to prevent planning authorities from rejecting or imposing conditions on projects based on their impacts on climate change.
Next, install climate deniers/sceptics in positions that are in charge of the government’s work on the environment. This immediately stops the flow of any pro-action on climate change advice. Mr Abbott appointed a climate change skeptic to head a review of our renewable energy target. He also appointed a climate skeptic to the position of Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment. Mr Turnbull hired Sid Marris, former head of climate and environment at the Minerals Council of Australia, to be his climate and energy adviser. Mr Morrison appointed Angus Taylor, long-time campaigner against the Renewable Energy Target and a fierce critic of wind energy, as Minister for Energy. Mr Morrison appointed Melissa Price, a former general counsel for Crosslands Resources, which owns the Jack Hills iron ore project in Western Australia, as Minister for the Environment. Mr Morrison appointed Matt Canavan, who doubts the importance of climate change mitigation and is a strong advocate of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, as Minister for Resources.
Then reduce funding and staffing to departments and agencies and scientific bodies and restrict their capacity to work on environmental issues such as climate change and biodiversity. Mr Abbott cut spending on science and innovation to the lowest levels since the data was first published. He cut hundreds of jobs at the CSIRO then ripped a further $111.4 million over four years out of the operating budget of the CSIRO. He cut 480 jobs from the Environment Department which help protect places such as Kakadu, Antarctica and the Great Barrier Reef. In 2017 the Marine Park Authority had to scale back surveys in a year of massive coral bleaching, due to lack of government funds.
Insist that government departments and other bodies give you the advice on climate change and similar issues that fits in with your anti-Earth policies. Mr Abbott directed the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to stop investing in wind power. He banned the Clean Energy Finance Corporation from investing in roof top solar panels and other small-scale solar energy. Mr Turnbull ignored advice that renewable energy was not to blame for South Australian blackouts. The Coalition Government told Great Barrier Reef scientists to focus on projects which would make the government look good and encourage more corporate donations. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority, which reports to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, was “accused of maladministration, deliberately ignoring the best science on the river, and leaning on the CSIRO to alter reports on the adequacy of the basin plan and ignoring the impact of climate change in its future planning.”
Allocate taxpayer funds in a way that shores up society for your anti-Earth policies. Mr Turnbull tried to loan Adani $1 billion to build a railway link to the Carmichael mine and promised to “fix” native title problems. Mr Morrison’s Energy Minister said there was too much wind and solar in the electricity grid while indicating more taxpayer money for existing coal and gas. 2019, Ms Price, Minister for the Environment, asked for a review of how climate policy could be used to upgrade existing coal stations after being lobbied by an energy company.
Exploit every possible loophole you can to try to prevent groups like Get-UP taking effective action. Also ensure that not-for profit groups and charities are not able to express their opinion of the best policies for the people they look after without risking their funding.
You can use the excuse of addressing security concerns and terrorism to tighten up on surveillance and to restrict freedom of information. One step is to ignore the Freedom of Information Act or make the process so long winded as to be unhelpful or provide little useful information. This helps to keep your acts in the dark if you are in government.
Weaken democratic rights so the ability to protest about lack of action on climate change is severely curtailed. Mr Abbott removed the community’s right to challenge decisions where the government has ignored expert advice on threatened species impacts. He tried to introduce laws to stop citizens exercising their legal rights to stop big developments that damage the environment. Mr Turnbull sought changes to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to stop conservation groups challenging environmental ministerial decisions. Governments are bringing in new laws to make peaceful protesting more likely to get those participating into serious trouble with the law.
Counteracting terrorism and protecting national security can be used as a blanket to silence dissent. Some ways of doing this are to: restrict free speech, harass and prosecute journalists, prosecute whistle-blowers, prevent reporting of government wrong-doing, invade people’s privacy, reduce civil liberties, lock up people in gaol without any public scrutiny, dish out justice as the government wishes, crack down on peaceful protests about climate change and concoct legislation to stop people doing anything effective to reduce the impact of climate change on the planet.
In doing this, it helps if you can paint dissenters and the like as enemies of the state. For example, boat people can be painted as terrorists, criminals and illegals and protesters demanding action on climate change as eco-terrorists and useless fringe dwellers. These labels tend to stick and then you can treat such people so harshly that others will be afraid to take up their cause. By labelling organisations like GetUp who suggest people boycott businesses that support the expansion of the fossil fuel industry, as anarchists and anti-freedom, you can be in a position to legislate against them.
If you really want to screw the Earth and you are not yet a dictator of a country you need to maintain the outward appearance of being a nice guy whilst systematically doing all you can to maintain the status quo and look after your own interests. It helps if you know nothing about climate science and have experience in putting a spin on things while doing exactly as you like.
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Far more than a clever analysis this reads as a lamentably true account of Australia’s steady decline into denial and obstruction, into murky underhand dealings and outright persecution of all trying to tell the truth and help the planet. In after days, if there are any left to Australia, these years will be seen as a criminal, suicidal time when smart talkers and big money defrauded the public and sold out Australia’s future.
Not a pretty picture you paint Elizabeth and these politicians are voted in by Australian citizens. Margaret Atwood says her book ‘Handmaids Tale’ is somewhat apt for what is happening.
And yet despite the horror of all of the above done by Abbott, Turnbull and now Scotty from Marketing, Australia re-elected Turnbull and then re-elected Scotty from Marketing. I guess this all gave Turnbull a post-politics career by allowing him to revert to blatant hypocrisy, complaining that our bumbling, inept, petulant, puerile and clown-like PM is now doing stuff that Turnbull himself did while he was PM. Of course, Turnbull was too protective of his job as PM to even try and stare down the climate deniers in his own party, but if these things mattered as much then as they apparently do now, why was he not prepared to risk all?
Unfortunately, LNP supporters and even Green’s and Labor supporters, in a perverse way, want to see the government refusing to take action. That provides a clear moral basis for refusing to take action at an individual level. I have been watching some of Q&A this evening and listened to various pretentious twats implore us to embrace renewables and say that “armageddon approacheth”. Great, sure – they are right. But not one I heard made any mention of us using less power or less fuel – living in smaller and more-energy efficient houses or driving smaller cars (even before we get to driving electric or hybrid cars, which will continue to be way too expensive for most for at least 10 years). Marketing continues to drive us to want more and more so we can be visibly affluent and outdo everyone, when the Earth is crying out for us to use less and less. For sustainable living, one measure is that for each person in the world, the maximum consumption that allows the Earth to at least have some hope of replenishing itself is “1.8 global hectares”. How much do we in western countries like the US and UK consume? About “8.0 global hectares per person”. We are fishing out the oceans; degrading agricultural soils, polluting the air, trapping water in billions of tonnes of concrete going into new construction each year – we have reached the point where the only way the affluent can continue to over-consume and prop up our government’s desperate promotion of GDP growth is by degrading existing “stocks” to use a broad term.
What the “we” want is more cheap and reliable power so we can continue to live in large houses with monster fridges, 75″ TV’s and multiple computers. We want to live in houses designed so that the only realistic way to manage temperature extremes is with 24/7 air-conditioning or heating. And we want governments to give it all to us without any disruption.
The conundrum of power usage that has plagued societies for 300 years is that if power is cheap and plentiful, we find more inventive ways to use it. Perhaps that was possible 200 years ago, but the continued excesses in our lifestyles are now paid for by the degradation of our environment at a faster rate than ever before – and what is it we are personally doing about it? Some are changing their lifestyles and making different choices, but most simply are not and will not.