Thursday, April 1, 2010

Costello muddles climate with politics

Yesterday's edition of The Age carried Peter Costello's muddled opinion piece dismissing the climate crisis because he thinks it has fallen below the prime minister's pragmatic political radar - as if climate were an expendable pawn in a cynical political game.

Costello's argument rests on an egotism that suggests an issue's importance or lack thereof is decided at the often uninformed whim of politicians, not based on the objective evidence - in this case, the compelling scientific argument that climate change is happening and impacts are already with us.

While political posturing is plainly irrelevant to the relentless physical processes of the atmosphere, it is sadly true that political action is crucial to framing climate solutions. Costello should therefore consider the real-world consequences of muddling climate with politics.

Today The Age published my letter responding to Costello. Here's a slightly longer, unedited version, in which I also address Costello's weak swipe at Earth Hour.
Dismissing the urgency of climate change, Peter Costello obviously hasn't read Rajendra Pachauri's piece (30/3) on the failure of denialist challenges to undermine the fundamentally compelling body of climate science. He also appears not to have read the recent 'State of the Climate' report jointly released by the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology. Both add to the already convincing case that climate change is happening and that impacts already being felt will worsen if we fail to curb our spiralling carbon emissions.

Instead, Costello's lack of reading allows him to consider the climate inaction of the Rudd Government as some kind of objective measure of the urgency of the climate crisis. Perhaps it is the egotism of the political class that can say 'If I don't think it's important, it's not important', despite what the international scientific consensus clearly says. Nor should we be distracted by asking which of the major parties is stronger on policy in this area, when the reality is that both are closer to denialism than they are to the receding possibility of a safe climate.

As for Earth Hour, no-one who was sitting outside Martin Ferguson's office on Saturday night thinks the climate issue can be switched on and off like the lights. Darebin Climate Action Now will be following the Batman MP and resources and energy minister with a sustained campaign all the way to the ballot box.

Your hat won't be in the ring come election day, Peter, but at least you could do some reading - especially if you have grandchildren.
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