Contribution by Dr Chris McGrath
A useful update on climate science relevant to the Australian policy debate was released today by the Climate Commission, authored by Professor Will Steffen, Executive Director of the Climate Change Institute at the Australian National University, Canberra.
The report is titled, “The Critical Decade: Climate science, risks and responses”. It provides a short summary of recent climate science and is filled with graphics and key pieces of information for informing the current policy debate.
There are many news reports about it, including the ABC, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian.
In an unexpected move, retiring Liberal Senator Nick Minchin quickly denounced the report as “nonsense” and because it was co-authored by the anti-Christ, Hitler, and Osama bin Laden combined in one.*
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, although not regarded as an independent or objective observer, also attacked the report. It remained steadfast that “Our view is that [Australia] shouldn’t move ahead of the world” in regulating climate pollution. Had the Chamber led Britain in WWII, no doubt it would have argued against independent action as bombs rained down on London.
* For Nick and anyone else without a sense of humour: That was a joke.
Minchin in that article “Given we are responsible for about one per cent of the world’s emissions of CO2 … anything Australia does will be utterly pointless and have no impact whatsoever on the global climate.”
Read someone elsewhere remarking that this is the “shoplifter’s argument”.
‘My little screwdriver/ Tshirt/ DVD doesn’t matter. A shop won’t notice just one of these things missing from the shelf.’
I fully expect a senator to see the flaws in this feeble argument. So I can’t believe Nick Minchin doesn’t really understand how the same principle applies in relation to emissions. (Or any other pollution, rubbish, overflow issue.)
It’s very simple. If we all behave this way, we’ll wreck the place.
Good point … Society wouldn’t work if we operated on Minchin’s principle.
Actually, rather than shop-lifting, I prefer to contrast our approach to dealing with global terrorism.
After 9/11, Australia could have sat back and said, “we only have a small fraction of the global population and we aren’t being attacked by terrorists so why should we take any action?” For good measure we could have added, “we won’t do anything to combat global terrorism until China acts.”
We don’t take that approach to global terrorism. We shouldn’t take it for responding to the global threat of climate change.
A follow-up link: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/no-one-country-can-save-the-reef-says-tim-flannery/story-fn59niix-1226061500198
“Julia Gillard’s key climate-change adviser, Will Steffen, has warned that nothing short of securing an effective global agreement to tackle climate change can save the reef, while one of the world’s leading reef scientists, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, has said Australia will be left with “the great weedy reef” unless the world cuts emissions.”