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A BLEAK 2014 BECKONS January 2, 2014

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, CLIMATE CHANGE, Human Rights.
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2014 will mark hundred years since the outbreak of the First World War. So thing could get worse. The prime minister  believes in climate change denial.The Government believes in the remedial powers of violence in relation to refugees and asylum seekers .

The Prime Minister is a victim of all things to political correctness. He cannot admit he is an unbeliever in relation to the science of climate change. So the sad Maurice Newman, laughingly the chief business adviser to the Government, is trotted out to deliver his views by means of an article in The Australian.

Harry Clarke observes:

Newman’s remarks are wrong and characteristically intemperate. He sees interests in climate change as delusional and fraudulent and he rants like a right-wing crazy.

I don’t think The Australian can be criticised for publishing these views although it can be criticised for heeling to install the mob who propound them. Newman is PM Abbott’s senior business advisor and his views are, for that reason alone, worthy of citation. The difficulty is that these views are just so self-evidently wrong. We have a government being advised by people with low credibility who are careless with their words. Even Abbott would not seem to be fond of people with Newman’s carelessness. Abbott himself is a cautious guy. He should sack Newman and appoint someone with cautious intelligence to occupy Newman’s role.

Giles Parkerson, at The Guardian, is also on the case, saying in part that Maurice Newman has sourced confirmation of his opinions from unreliable sources, such as blogs. He emphasizes that Newman’s opinions are really the opinions of the Government, and they cause pause even among the its strongest supporters in business:

This is not the first time that Newman has courted controversy. In September, he attacked the “myth of climate change” in an opinion piece for the Australian Financial Review. In November, he used a speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) to attack climate change, renewable energy and labour costs.

What was interesting about that speech was the reaction from the business community. Chanticleer, the venerable (and conservative) back-page column of the AFR, noted that business people were taken aback by the tone, the aggression and the lack of subtlety of the speech. Even Peter Switzer, a conservative small business columnist who appears on Murdoch’s Sky News and in The Australian, wondered if Newman was disconnected from reality.

Scientific opinion, as might be expected, is dismissive.  Professor David Karoly responds in The Sydney Morning Herald:

Maurice Newman is chairman of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council. He must have thought that December 31 was April Fool’s Day when he wrote an opinion piece in The Australian headed “Crowds go cold on climate cost”.
He once again revealed his opinions on climate change science when he wrote “the scientific delusion, the religion behind the climate crusade, is crumbling” and “Australia, too, has become hostage to climate change madness”.

His piece is a mix of common climate change myths, misinformation and ideology. While Mr Newman is welcome to his opinions, his writing reveals his sad misunderstanding of the facts about climate change.

As Upton Sinclair wrote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

Fortunately, the Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt and the Australian government say they accept the science of climate change, as do the Australian Labor Party and the Greens.

The scientific case needs to be made, something  sadly Maurice Newman inadvertently omitted. Here is David Karoly’s summary:

The key conclusions on climate change science from the Australian Academy of Science, the Royal Society of London and the US National Academy of Science have been confirmed with even greater confidence by the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released in September 2013.

They include:

  • There is no doubt that the climate system has warmed over the past 100 years and continues to warm.
  • It is beyond reasonable doubt that human influences, through burning fossil fuels, industrial activity and land clearing, have been the main cause of the observed global warming since the mid 20th century.
  • Continued emissions of greenhouse gases from human activity will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system.
  • Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr Newman writes that “global temperatures have gone nowhere for 17 years”, but the global average surface temperature has warmed over the period 1997 to 2013, ocean heat content has increased significantly, and Arctic sea ice extent has declined, all showing clearly the continued warming of the climate system.
Australia has just set a new record in 2013 for the hottest calendar year temperature averaged across the whole country, unprecedented in more than a hundred years of instrumental observations and outside the range that can be explained by natural variability alone.

He also writes “when necessary the IPCC resorts to dishonesty and deceit”, but none of the many independent inquiries in the US and the UK into scientists involved in the IPCC have found any evidence to support these claims.

Better by far to be guided in matters of scientific understanding, subject as it must be to uncertainty, by the wise Abbott and Newman.

Refugee policy has descended into a cruel, and increasingly secret farce. In itself not all that unusual for policies to affirm the efficacy of violence and fear, nor  in the curious pantomime of strutting and silence, but in the dehumanization of those who seek sanctuary among us, and who like many have before sought better living conditions and prospects.  The boats keep coming. ABC News reports just three hours ago:

The Royal Australian Navy has intercepted a vessel with about 35 asylum seekers on board off the Northern Territory coast. The boat was boarded about 95 nautical miles north of Darwin, near Bathurst Island, this morning.

Customs and the Immigration Department have not commented on the matter. The asylum seekers are thought to be on their way to Darwin or possibly Christmas Island.

The experience of desperation is the the lot of the refugee:

People are still paying for passage. One answer is to anticipate the need to offer refuge and make appropriate preparations. We might be able to make provision on a local level, so that all refugees are not channeled into specific postcodes.

With denial of scientific evidence and cruelty as the policy benchmarks, bleakness prevail.

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