Saturday, 22 November 2014

On climate change, Barack Obama is pushing against the sort of barriers that Tony Abbott embodies

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop took to the ABC's 7:30 Report and hit back against Barack Obama's "Brisbane Speech" and the way in which it brought climate change to the fore of the recent G20 meeting. She pulled out a questionable argument that a couple of others in the Government have also tried:
LEIGH SALES: When you look at the language and priority given to climate change as an issue, is it a logical conclusion that Australia and its closest ally, the United States, are on different pages?

JULIE BISHOP: No, I don't believe that's the case at all. The United States is proposing to take direct action, as Australia is, to reduce emissions. The United States has set a target for emissions reduction post-2020. Australia is on track to meet, in fact exceed its target of a five per cent reduction on 2000 levels by 2020 and we will announce our targets for post-2020 next year in the leadup to the Paris conference. So I believe that our actions are quite similar, certainly in principle and the way we're approaching the issue of climate change. For example, President Obama hasn't announced a carbon tax on the emissions, and most certainly, Australia has now repealed the carbon tax that had been imposed. So, the approaches are quite similar.
Why has Barack Obama not announced a carbon tax? It's really quite simple. He doesn't have the authority to do so. A carbon tax could only by introduced by Congress, which is hamstrung by raving lunatics. How bad is it?
Well actually the Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that ‘as long as the earth remains there will be seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night,’ my point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.
That was said by long time Republican Senator James Inhofe, who, after the recent mid-term election, is set to become the Chair of the US Senate's environment committee. It would be funny if it weren't such a serious problem. There's a deep anti-intellectual and anti-science streak on the conservative side of US politics, and climate action is impossible to get passed by the US Congress. "I'm not a scientist" is uttered by too many politicians on the US right as a way of avoiding admitting that they know climate change is real. To admit reality is political suicide for them, and to take action on it impossible. Alas, it's a mind set that even infected some conservative "blue dog" Democrats.

And so Barack Obama, reduced to acting within the confines of executive authority and prevented from implementing a carbon tax by a dysfunctional and insane Congress, is doing what he can. This is what Julie Bishop ignores: in the United States, "direct action" is the last resort in the face of insanity.

So, if Julie Bishop's analogy is to be entertained, who are the loonies that are the biggest impediment to environmentally and economically sound policy being adopted in Australia? Who, in her analogy, is our James Inhofe?

Possibly an individual who once called climate change "bullshit"; a man who paid lip service to climate change to get elected, while always intending to do as little as he politically can to address it - our integrity-challenged Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

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