h/t Grant Griffiths – The New York Times thinks leaders are ignoring the Australian people’s demand for climate action – despite voters electing a Conservative government last May.
Australia Is Committing Climate Suicide
As record fires rage, the country’s leaders seem intent on sending it to its doom.
By Richard Flanagan
Mr. Flanagan is a novelist.
Jan. 3, 2020
BRUNY ISLAND, Australia — Australia today is ground zero for the climate catastrophe. Its glorious Great Barrier Reef is dying, its world-heritage rain forests are burning, its giant kelp forests have largely vanished, numerous towns have run out of water or are about to, and now the vast continent is burning on a scale never before seen.
The fires have already burned about 14.5 million acres — an area almost as large as West Virginia, more than triple the area destroyed by the 2018 fires in California and six times the size of the 2019 fires in Amazonia. Canberra’s air on New Year’s Day was the most polluted in the world partly because of a plume of fire smoke as wide as Europe.
And yet, incredibly, the response of Australia’s leaders to this unprecedented national crisis has been not to defend their country but to defend the fossil fuel industry, a big donor to both major parties — as if they were willing the country to its doom. While the fires were exploding in mid-December, the leader of the opposition Labor Party went on a tour of coal mining communities expressing his unequivocal support for coal exports. The prime minister, the conservative Scott Morrison, went on vacation to Hawaii.
In no small part Mr. Morrison owes his narrow election victory last year to the coal-mining oligarch Clive Palmer, who formed a puppet party to keep the Labor Party — which had been committed to limited but real climate-change action — out of government. Mr. Palmer’s advertising budget for the campaign was more than double that of the two major parties combined. Mr. Palmer subsequently announced plans to build the biggest coal mine in Australia.
This posture seems to be a chilling political calculation: With no effective opposition from a Labor Party reeling from its election loss and with media dominated by Rupert Murdoch — 58 percent of daily newspaper circulation — firmly behind his climate denialism, Mr. Morrison appears to hope that he will prevail as long as he doesn’t acknowledge the magnitude of the disaster engulfing Australia.
Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/03/opinion/australia-fires-climate-change.html
Are Australians concerned about climate change? Sure. But there is no evidence of an overwhelming demand for more climate action.
If climate action was a higher priority than say jobs and cost of living, the Australian people would have elected a party which promised to prioritise climate action, instead of electing a government which promised to prioritise economic growth and prosperity.
As for Clive Palmer, I don’t think Palmer and NYT’s claims that Palmer won the election for the Australian Conservatives are credible. At the time of the election in May, Clive Palmer was facing a massive public backlash over a dispute with workers regarding pay and entitlements at his financially troubled Nickel venture. Palmer reached a settlement to pay outstanding worker’s entitlements in August this year, well after the May election.
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