Thursday, 12 February 2009

The grassroots are showing no leadership

In a very sensible new article about runaway climate change and the failure of our major parties to take the initiative in reducing emissions, there is a serious fault that people concerned really must grasp.

The article says “Until now, the real leadership on climate change has been coming from the grassroots”. That is bluntly wrong. It is the “grassroots” who support the coal, light metal and car industries in their quests to prevent anything remotely approaching the binding zero emissions target that should have been set Australia the moment negotiations began on the issue back in the 1990s. The deeply-knit communities of outer suburban Australia are not the ones protesting at the terrible government energy and transport policies that have caused the present Victorian fires and Queensland floods. The “grassroots” is, indeed, the group who supports such policies because they are exceedingly effective at lowering the “grassroots”’ housing, petrol and electricity prices to a level that no other country can come close to matching.

The people who organise so-called grassroots protests are in fact wealthy students and academic professors who know far, far too well where Australia is headed if carbon dioxide concentrations are not merely stabilised but reduced.

As I have pointed out in my discussion of Michael Woolridge’s excellent essay on pages 182 to 185 of Two Nations, this deep breach between academia and the rest of the population is one of Australia’s most pressing problems today. As I know from personally living in Keilor Downs and Ashwood from 1987 to 1997, outer suburbanites are never aware of major scientific research that has a critical impact on our future climate.

The manner in which some significant CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology researchers present their findings about rainfall changes to the public seems intended to calm the population by invariably finding a culprit other than man-made greenhouse gases. The evidence of recent climate patterns suggests that this policy might come dangerously close to sedative propaganda.

Those who publish news scientific findings in Australia’s mass media have in current circumstances the gravest imaginable responsibility. It is not their duty to do something intended merely to calm the population and they should not be in any sense displeased if they provoke anger or outrage from the public as they might if they were less willing to pass the buck away from human-produced greenhouse gases.

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