Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Economy

Australia was ready to act on climate 25 years ago, so what happened next?

New book investigates how corporate interests and ideologues worked to make Australia doubt what it knew about climate change and its risks

There’s something about climate change that almost everyone in Australia has either forgotten or never knew in the first place.

In 1990 Bob Hawke announced his government wanted the country to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by the year 2005.

For a fleeting moment, it seemed the Australian public, politicians and the media were in agreement with the science.

But a new book investigates how the industries that stood to lose the most worked to undermine the science and entirely reshape the story being told to the public.

“We have been propagandised,” says the author, Maria Taylor.

Hawke was ready

In 1989 Hawke described a “growing consensus amongst scientists” showing there was a strong chance that major climate change was on its way, that this change was linked to human activity, and this could have “major ramifications for human survival” if nothing was done.

The book

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Around 2007, Taylor was asking herself that question. How did the corporate interest replace the public interest? How did climate science become “controversial” in the eyes of the public?

Taylor, who is a journalist and newspaper publisher, wanted to know how Australians were “persuaded to doubt what they knew”.

She reviewed hundreds of newspaper articles and government reports for a PhD thesis and now a book, called Global Warming and Climate Change: What Australia Knew and Buried … Then Framed a New Reality for the Public (you can download a copy free from publisher ANU Press HERE ).

Taylor also interviewed about a dozen key insiders, including scientists, advisers, politicians and journalists. She says the fact that Australia was ready and willing to act 25 years ago has itself been a forgotten story.

Vested interests

Among the documents reviewed by Taylor were some of the public relations messaging being developed and communicated in the late 80s by the fossil fuel industry and free-market groups.

Taylor highlights two reports released in 1989 and 1992 by mining company CRA (a division of what became Rio Tinto) that “established the contrarian themes that came to dominate the decade”.

It went like this. Cutting greenhouse gas emissions would be expensive. Australia’s efforts to cut emissions would be tiny in a global context. The country’s economy would be damaged by action on emissions. Action would only hurt Australia’s export industries. Working to lower demand for energy would negatively impact people’s lifestyles.

Read more here

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Keith Antonysen

    August 15, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    The stink is that while the fossil fuel companies were denying climate change, their emails and other documentation showed they recognized the science to be true.

    Quote: Internal fossil fuel industry memos reveal decades of disinformation—a deliberate campaign to deceive the public that continues even today.

    From: Union of Concerned Scientists

  2. John Biggs

    August 11, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    Of course the psychopathic industrialists (most become so if only in the context of their corporate cocoon, a Michael Moore demonstrated) would want to undermine the argument for massive industry change. What is far worse even are that our politicians who are here to serve the interests of the people, have been bribed or otherwise bought off (like Labor’s terror of News Ltd’s criticism) to serve the greedy corporatists.

  3. phill Parsons

    August 9, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    25 years later we have the same arguments whist the evidence for the negative impacts of limited action pile up and the actual severity and frequency of climate events trends above the modelled predictions.

    The same suspects are opposed to real comprehensive adequate and timely action endangering us all for their greedy lunacy that outranks all other modern terror organizations in their annual death toll.

    The unchanged and unchanging members of the fossil fuel industry and their backers fill the definitions of the words making up evil death cult.

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