Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Tony Abbott, togged for the times ahead

As must now be apparent to almost anyone even vaguely interested in this debate, the global warming sceptics and deniers are winning. The average Australian - as indeed the average American, Chinese, Indian, Briton and European - by now has very little idea at all which side is right, and what to do about it. The end result will be policy paralysis, inertia, which is what the sceptics and deniers have wanted all along.

The current trip to Australia by lord chief denier Christopher Monckton, a conspiracy theorist cum standup comedian, is a case in point. Because of his likeness to another gifted funnyman, Lord Marty Feldman, and because he gives “good copy”, he has become the centre of a fawning media circus which has in effect turned its collective back upon all the good and patient work done by the world’s tens of thousands of expert climate scientists, dedicated men and women who are in no doubt that the world is warming and that at least part of the cause is our burning of carbon fossil fuels.

Lord Monckton is not a climate scientist, nor indeed a scientist of any sort. He is a conspiracist nut who believes global warming has been cooked up, literally, by a cabal in the bowels of the benighted UN building in New York, to usher in world government. He believes the EC is also the result of an international conspiracy which has ended democracy in Britain. More than anything else he is an attention-seeking media poodle.

His tour of course only adds to the campaign of disinformation already being worked effectively in our mainstream media by the likes of Devine, Duffy, Bolt, Albrechtsen, and Shockjock Jones. Their campaign, all dutifully published by people who know  better because it generates sales and hits, has now muddied the waters to such an extent that the public has no idea of what is going on and is simply switching off to the debate, which is exactly what the sceptics and the conservatives and those backing them  - I am wildly presuming coal and oil interests - want. 

As such it is a carbon (sic) copy of the entirely successful campaign of disinformation against the scientific evidence linking smoking and cancer, and thus we still have a drug that kills one in two addicts, openly on sale in corner shops today.

The science of global warming is clear for anyone who wants to take an honest look at it. The overwhelming weight of scientific opinion is united on this - which is why so many government leaders came together in Copenhagen in the first place. The fact that no effective world agreement came from it is not to do with doubts about the science, but an understandable reticence of developing nations to take their foot off the accelerator towards a developed world standard of living. We cannot blame them that for, but they have to know that if they achieve that standard of living they will do it in swimming flippers. That they also do not want the mechanisms to address global warming simply to be dictated from the old colonial capitals of London and Washington can hardly be surprising too. 

That there is now a climate of utter confusion is evidenced by the hide of the conservatives in Australia to propose a scheme which is no scheme at all, but an insult to the Australian electorate. Opposition leader Tony Abbott is being marketed as a straight-talking action man, whereas in fact he is as sly as a Jesuit double agent and as cocky as Barnaby Joyce. This “scheme” will take no action whatever to reduce the emissions of the coal and oil companies whose products are creating the problem. Its “target” is a 5% reduction by 2020 by using taxpayers’ money to try to bribe the companies to emit a bit less - but Abbott is yet to be asked by what means would deeper reductions be achieved after that. Surely this is the most glaring omission, and yet I am yet to see or read of him being questioned about it.

Abbott has no proposal to curb carbon emissions because he truly does believe global warming to be crap. His country cousin Joyce doesn’t even believe in home insulation, except as fluffy stuff in the roof that rats piss in. 

These men are not sceptics, they are deniers. Monckton is not a sceptic, he is a denier. The same goes for the posse of media commentators. If they were sceptics they would propose what Rupert Murdoch did - and many before him did as well - that while the arguments go on we give the earth the benefit of the doubt and reduce emissions effectively. That they do not propose that shows them to be deniers. Presumably Abbott’s first act as prime minister would be to order a new fleet of ministerial V8s. Why not, if carbon is not a problem? He could send it around for Miranda Devine and Bolt and Jones, and they could celebrate by lighting sparklers. And light up Marlboros all round.

- Larry Buttrose


  1. I've given up on the ins and outs of the climate change debate and even see it as a smoke screen (channelling some Jack Feldstein irony here), to the fact that we are trashing this planet, poisoning the air, earth and water faster and further than ever before in history. We have to put the brakes on at every level. Many of us are seriously cutting our own consumption of stuff and asking, can the planet (not my purse, necessarily) afford this?

  2. Very well put. I'll have to vote for the coalition for the first time, because I've always cherished the idea of buzzing around the inner suburbs of Sydney in a hummer. Put a bit of kaboom up the backsides of those smokers of natural weed who want to put real fags out of existence.

    Just love them jesuits!


  3. Well said! You know, the current sorry state of the planet has been predicted for decades, and now the predictions are coming true before our eyes. It astounds me how short-sighted so many people can be.

  4. I think that photo you've posted of the Mad Monk says it all: the self love, the arrogance, the repulsiveness. Funny how so many of the deniers come from the right...Mad Monk, Mad Monckton et al. Wonder what deep psychological issues underlie their refusal to face the reality of what's happening to our planet.

  5. Thanks Molly. Yes, I think it is a particularly, er, revealing photo of him, in all his cocksure arrogance. Thanks also Rosemary, Rae and Blazenka. I think the conservative agenda has been to muddy the waters to the point where people switch off and simply opt for what seems easy, which is the nothing "plan" they have proposed.

  6. The act of conceding that the "deniers are winning" is precisely the moment that they "win", because it is this moment we reduce green action to the left-right paradigm.

    Those who present themselves as "the right" conjure this reduction by framing a technocratic issue as an ideological front, turning the problem into an attack on "the left". The guardians of "the left" of course then oblige by earnestly playing the game it can never win -- a show trial in the kangaroo court of public opinion. it is being swift boating on a global scale.

    the task of establishing sustainable human development needs to be dispassionate, non-ideological and technocratic. It will not vouchsafed by either democracy or public polling.

    supporters of green action need to stop playing the game about whether they are winning or losing the culture war over climate change. the culture war is a dead end street.

    instead we need to to deny, dismiss and delete the denial, and focus only tangible, collaborative direct action. we got the numbers, just get on with it.