Environment Editor at Guardian Australia, Adam Morton tweeted the following on Friday (8/11/2019):
“Just to recap
Today’s fires are ‘unprecedented’
The fires in Queensland earlier this year were ‘unprecedented’
The Townsville flood was ‘unprecedented’
The inland flood afterwards was ‘unprecedented’
The central Queensland fires last year were ‘unprecedented’
The drought is ‘unprecedented’”
Believe it or not, in response, Sydney Morning Herald and Age journalist Bevan Shields has tweeted the following:
“Climate change debate is important but maybe while people are running for their lives during an emergency it’s best to just stick to the unfolding details and leave the preaching for later.”
While it is possible that Shields has such a limited purview that he believes everyone, like him, is concentrating on the events ‘unfolding’ in Queensland and New South Wales. There are 25 million of us, and only a few thousand people are involved in evacuations, firefighting, or reporting on them. The remainder of us are not hanging about with bated breath, waiting to read his latest column or watch the latest apocalyptic video or photos from places under threat. Nations can multi-task. This current Coalition government is at the same time grinding down the economy by continuing the policies which caused it, while holding Royal Commissions into aged care and disability services, and increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and at the same time denying there is a climate emergency, as well as dismantling democracy.
This ‘it’s too soon’ argument is precisely the same sort of argument the National Rifle Association (NRA) uses in the United States after every mass shooting to try to damp down demands for action on gun control. While the religious nutters send “thoughts and prayers” as an excuse for doing nothing of consequence, the NRA uses the ‘too soon’ argument to try to prevent anyone doing anything to try to stem the carnage. As a consequence, people continue to die; men, women and, worst of all, children in schools2. The fact that either of these responses to such tragedies is even contemplated, demonstrates a complete lack of political leadership. Scott Morrison has just sent ‘thoughts and prayers’ to those suffering during the current fire emergency. I rest my case.
Beyond the ‘it’s too soon’ stupidity of Shields’ response to Morton, there are another couple of aspects which need to be highlighted. Firstly; there is no debate about climate change. There are only facts and the denial of them by people like Shields. The ‘debate’ was over at least 30 years ago when the first report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was compiled3. Climate change is happening now. It is here, and as Morton said, its effects are unprecedented. To indicate that there is a debate demonstrates that Shields is either exceptionally limited in his abilities, or is paid to deny the reality of climate change. Given that he does not work for the Murdoch media, where climate change denial is standard practice, the latter is unlikely. So, one must assume that Shields is indeed limited. Secondly, one does not need to ‘preach’ reality. It is there for all to see. It is also in the numerous IPCC reports, and in the data from numerous meteorological, and other scientific organisations. On his Twitter profile, Shields states that he is ‘Soon to be Europe correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age’1. One can only hope that he doesn’t tweet equally stupid content on events in Europe when he does get there.