It’s been a really, really long time since I’ve written anything here. There are a few reasons for this, but the main one is that I’ve become immensely jaded and disappointed with the state of environmental and food politics lately. I’ve needed to take a bit of a break to reboot (the blog is mainly just a hobby that I love, but like any hobby, sometimes you need a bit of time away). In Australia, the Liberal Party was elected in September. You can scroll down to see a few of our new Prime Ministers choicest comments. It’s one of the major reasons that I haven’t been writing, and also the main reason that I felt the need to come back and write again today. Since election in September, the Abbott Government has
- Dismantled the Climate Commission (see here)
- Withdrawn all funding from the Environmental Defenders Offices around Australia (see here)
- Approved the creation of one of the world’s biggest coal shipping ports near the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (see here)
- Proposed the repeal of Australia’s climate legislation, including the carbon tax, clean energy funding and the existing emissions trading system (see here)
- Been singled out for its poor climate change performance in Warsaw (see here)
All this, in less than six months. Political terms in Australia are usually around 3 years – the thought of the damage that could be done during that time is unsettling, to say the very, very least. And the worst of it? This is what people voted for. This is not some crazy surprise package. People made a conscious decision to vote against the Climate Commission, against the carbon tax, and against climate legislation more generally. I’m not sure that they expected the coal port in the Great Barrier Reef as well, but it’s hardly unexpected given the pre-election, anti-environment rhetoric. What does all this mean? It means that Australia has gone from being at the forefront of carbon legislation to being part of a shame circle in Warsaw. It means that, as one of the developed countries most likely to be affected by climate change, we are doing less than most developed countries to prevent it. It means that, in spite of some supposedly high-level conditions on shipping through the Great Barrier Reef, we are placing our trust in mining companies to ensure the future of one of our greatest national treasures – which frankly, either means that we’re naive, stupid or both.
I’m finding it difficult to control my anger about all this. Climate change denial is a denial of science. It’s like saying that the earth is the centre of the universe, or contending that our planet is flat. And, in a manner similar to that when these were the beliefs, proponents of the scientific view are being silenced. Even if we accept that there is still a debate to be had about the cause and impact of climate change, dissent is being stifled, through the shutdown of organisations like the Climate Commission and the Environmental Defenders Office. Even if we accept (and it makes my skin itch to even type this) that there is no such thing as climate change, the Government, those people we elected to provide the greatest good to the greatest number, has completely disregarded the environmental and public health benefits that could have been achieved through reducing our emissions and investing in green technologies. The legislations that were introduced by the previous government may not have been perfect. But they were never given a chance to work. Just two years of a carbon tax gives us no real idea of what the potential impacts could have been, whether they could have reduced our emissions, increased investment in solar and wind power. What a wasted opportunity.
I’m angry, and I’m disappointed. I am furious with those who put a few dollars off their electricity bills ahead of the future of Australia’s citizens, and I’m sad that it’s the twenty first century and people are still treating science like they did five hundred years ago. I’m upset that there’s nothing that I can do about it when I’m living overseas, and quite honestly, I’m ashamed to be Australian at the moment.