To survive to the end of this century, humanity faces an enormous challenge because of accelerating climate change.
Many people of goodwill talk optimistically of trying to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C.
Had there been co-ordinated, world-wide action to drastically limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during say the first decade of this century, this objective may have been achievable.
Furthermore, had Homo sapiens been capable of acting wisely and rationally (thus honoring its species-name!), this should not have been an unreasonable starting time, seeing that scientists started their warnings about climate change in the 1980s! However, the truth is that the window of opportunity to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees has passed.
It was noted (“2018 among hottest years”, The Age, 1/1) that the mean surface temperature of Earth is “now about 1.1 degrees above the pre-industrial norm … more than halfway to the 2-degree upper limit of [agreed] warming”. However, because of climate inertia, especially oceanic thermal inertia, something slightly in excess of 2 degrees is already locked in.
Distinguished US climate scientist, James Hansen, repeatedly stressed the crucial fact that more unavoidable warming is already “in the pipeline”, “committed” or “locked in”. We are indeed in deep trouble because of reckless, if not criminal, inaction on climate change on the part adult politicians, and it is our youth, children and grandchildren whose lives will be imperiled.
For most of his political career, Scott Morrison has shown little or no enthusiasm to effectively address the challenge of climate change, and has never publically acknowledged that it poses a threat to humanity’s continued existence. On 14 February 2017 he did his best to ridicule those advocating the de-carbonization of the economy by walking into parliament with a lump of coal and saying: “Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared, it won’t hurt you. It’s coal.” Until very recently, Morrison assiduously avoided uttering the c-c words, even during his recent visits to drought-stricken regions, when he suggested people should pray for rain in the apparent belief that prayer would be more effective in influencing climate than controlling GHG emissions.
Belatedly Morrison has been forced into giving the appearance of addressing the climate-change issue. This has not come about through a change of heart but represents a desperate attempt to stave off political defeat. The newly proposed Climate Solution Package is simply an extension of a plan, the Emissions Reduction Fund, devised under the auspices of a climate-change denier – Tony Abbott. The Climate Council, which is deals in science, has already condemned the new plan as bad policy – wasteful, inefficient and not commensurate with the challenge. A carbon tax and the abolition of fossil fuel subsidies would be far more efficient.
Morrison’s so-called “Climate Solutions Package” will fool no one into accepting that he has ceased to believe that climate change is just a political nuisance and non-issue. Most “non-issue” people are either climate-change deniers or skeptics – it is simply a non-acceptance or skepticism regarding the validity of conclusions reached by climate scientists. However, in the case of Morrison the explanation may be more complicated and more insidious. The rejection of scientific findings by may well be secondary to strongly held religious beliefs hidden in his psyche and not revealed to Australian electors.
Scott Morrison is an avowed adherent to Pentecostalism and regularly attends the Horizon Church in Sydney. Central tenets of the Pentecostal Church include belief in the existence of the Devil (Satan) and the imminent return to Earth of Jesus Christ. Apparently Pentecostals envisage a continual tension or battle between these two forces of evil and good, but Jesus will soon return and consign Satan to Hell. These issues were explored in considerable detail in the February 2019 issue of The Monthly magazine.
What should be of great concern is that Morrison may well believe that there is no point in mere mortals like you and me trying to limit GHG emissions because the fate of the Earth and humanity will be determined by the interaction of such supernatural forces as the Devil and the imminent return to Earth of a deity’s emissary in the form of Jesus Christ. In the insightful words of The Monthly: “Belief in Satan and the imminent return of Christ — helps explain the prime minister’s less-than-passionate response to the most pressing environmental issue of our time.” These are disturbing thoughts, and provide a good reason to ask: is our Prime Minister a closet doomsday cultist?
Ian A.E. Bayly held the position of Reader in Zoology at Monash University from 1971-1995. He was a Vice-President of the Australian Conservation Foundation from 1973-1975, and played a prominent role in the conservation struggles to save Lake Pedder and Fraser Island. Ian holds the rare degree of Doctor of Science and in the course of a six-decade career authored or co-authored of over 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers and four books*, He is the recipient of the Australian Society for Limnology Medal. During the 1980s he spent two periods in Antarctica researching the ecology of planktonic animals. Bayly Bay in the Vestfold Hills is named in recognition of his published contributions (12 papers) to Antarctic science. He is still publishing scientific papers, being co-author of a chapter in the book Plankton to be published by CSIRO on April 2019. In October 2018 a major “popular” essay of his entitled “Our Climate-Change Apathy: gifting our grandchildren a living hell” was published in Arena Magazine #156. This article attracted favourable comment from Prof. Peter Doherty, Prof. David Karoly and Dr Joelle Gergis. [In the contemporary world the term “Reader” has become largely an anachronism. It was awarded for high excellence in research and at Monash University it ranked between Associate Professor and Professor.] * (1) Bayly, I.A.E. and Williams, W.D. (1973). Inland Waters and their Ecology. (Longman: Melbourne). 316 pp. Reprinted 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977 & 1981. (2) Bayly, I.A.E. (1999). Rock of Ages: Human Use and Natural History of Australian Granites.(Univ. W.A. Press: Perth.) 132 pp. (3) Bayly, I.A.E. (2009). Len Beadell’s Legacy: Australia’s Atomic Bomb and Rocket Roads. (Bas Publishing: Seaford). 144pp. Reprinted 2010 & 2018. (4) Bayly, I.A.E. (2011). Australia’s Granite Wonderlands: Rock of Ages’ Intriguing Landscapes and Life. (Bas Publishing: Seaford). 168 pp.