On Wednesday, January 15, the Science Minister, Karen Andrews, will convene a roundtable meeting of scientists to develop a response to the “devastating and surprising” bushfire catastrophe1.

There are several points about the previous paragraph which scream out for comment. Firstly, the fact that we had a science minister was something I probably knew, but it had slipped from my memory, as Andrews has been such a low-profile minister. When reappointed to her ministry after the May federal election she said she was planning to embrace scientists to inform the Morrison government’s response to climate change, arguing they will be able to “prove beyond doubt” that human activity is changing the climate. The fact that this stupid statement was from 2019 is depressing, as scientists had shown beyond any reasonable doubt that climate change was due to human activity in 1990, almost 30 years ago2. I say it was a stupid statement, because science can ‘prove’ nothing3; it can only disprove hypotheses, and as the climate warmed, the hypotheses that it was the sun, volcanoes, Milankovitch cycles or something else were all examined and found unable to explain the warming. The only remaining hypothesis which could explain it was the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere4.

Secondly, it is ironic that the Coalition government has a science minister, given all the time they have spent denying science, whether it be climate change5,6,7,8  evolution9  or vaccination10. Indeed, some members of the government parties want to set up a body for the purpose of denying any science they do not like11. It is satisfying, but not sufficient that Prime Minister Morrison has now ‘admitted’ that the government now ‘believes’ climate science, something he said they had always done. This is a demonstrable lie, but for Morrison, that is far from unusual8.

Thirdly, Andrews referred to this season’s bushfire catastrophe as ‘devastating and surprising’. That is also a lie. While they have indeed been devastating, they are not a surprise. Economist Ross Garnaut was commissioned to examine the impacts of climate change on the Australian economy, and to recommend medium to long-term policies and policy frameworks to improve the prospects for sustainable prosperity. The review was commissioned by the Opposition Leader at the time, Kevin Rudd, and by the Australian State and Territory Governments on 30 April 2007. After his election on 24 November 2007, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd confirmed the participation of the Commonwealth Government in the Review12. Garnaut, in turn, commissioned scientific reports on various aspects of climate change and these formed the basis of parts of the report, which was released in 2008. One of these, by Lucas et al. (2007) was paraphrased in the Garnaut report as: “Recent projections of fire weather suggest that fire seasons will start earlier, end slightly later, and generally be more intense. This effect increases over time, but should be directly observable by 2020”12,13,14. Lucas et al. (2007) used the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates of global temperature rise, which at the time suggested a rise of 0.4-1.0°C by 2020. We are now at 0.8°C15, toward the upper end of the IPCC estimate. The IPCC also estimated that by 2050, we would have reached 0.7-2.9°C. Lucas et al. used these to obtain estimates of the changes in the Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) as a measure of fire risk. An increase in FFDI translates to an increase in the number of days with significant fire risk. The number of Extreme fire danger days increases by 15-65% by 2020 for high end scenarios (i.e. 1°C), and 100-300% by 2050 for (i.e. 2.9°C)13,14. This was before the official introduction of the ‘Catastrophic’ rating, which Lucas et al. suggested using, and do use in their analysis. While the changes in the Catastrophic FFDI are not very different to that in the Extreme scenario, it is the return time which is startling, with some places indicating a return time, between catastrophic events of as little as three years13,14. Of course, the Coalition federal government of Tony Abbott was diametrically opposed to any review commissioned by a Labor government in waiting, let alone implementing any of its recommendations, especially when Abbott thought climate science was “crap”8.

Fourthly, not only were the government warned about the increased risk of fires by Garnaut, but they also could have been warned more recently (April 2019) by the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action Group if Scott Morrison and other ministers had deigned to meet them16. As one of the founders of the group, Greg Mullins, said: “Had we spoken back in April, one of the things we would’ve said is to try to get more aircraft on lease from the northern hemisphere because (we knew) this was going to be a horror fire season. They can be a decisive weapon. … It is very, very disappointing that we weren’t listened to earlier because we actually predicted exactly what’s happening now. Measures could have been taken months ago to make the firefighters more effective and to make community safer.” Their recommendations are given in an article on the Climate Council website17. After ignoring the group in April at a time when something could have been done about the current disaster, rather than playing catchup, the government has said that the group may be able to meet Natural Disaster and Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud in “a few weeks”16.

This government are so bereft of imagination and ability and so lacking in understanding of what expertise actually is, let alone possessing any, that they need to be consigned to the rubbish bin of historical nightmares as soon as possible. The nation cannot afford another two years of these clueless buffoons wandering around like headless chickens. We have wasted the last decade doing very little about climate change, the last six and a half years of which has been spent listening to climate change denying morons like Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison, Matt Canavan, Barnaby Joyce, Craig Kelly, George Christensen8, the deniers in the Murdoch media18  and idiotic microphone bullies like Alan Jones19, when they all knew it was happening. In wasting years and in not preparing for this disaster, those above have in part caused the deaths of dozens of people and hundreds of millions of native animals. They need to pay for it.

Sources

  1. https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/science-minister-says-climate-denial-a-waste-of-time-in-wake-of-fires-20200114-p53rev.html
  2. http://www.blotreport.com/2019/03/17/stating-the-obvious-30-years-too-late-2/
  3. http://www.blotreport.com/2019/08/29/science-can-prove-nothing/
  4. http://www.blotreport.com/2019/11/16/barnabys-lost-marbles/
  5. http://www.blotreport.com/2017/03/19/climate-change-deniers-in-parliament/
  6. http://www.blotreport.com/2019/03/19/more-liberal-climate-change-denial/
  7. http://www.blotreport.com/2017/06/03/parliamentary-climate-scientists-emboldened/
  8. http://www.blotreport.com/2020/01/10/liar-morrison-2/
  9. http://www.blotreport.com/2017/11/22/geology-biology-next/
  10. http://www.blotreport.com/2018/10/03/promiscuous-anti-vaxxer-joyce/
  11. http://www.blotreport.com/2019/07/16/shooting-the-messenger/
  12. https://www.rossgarnaut.com.au/climate-change/
  13. Lucas, C., Hennessy, K., Mills, G. & Bathols, J., 2007. Bushfire Weather in Southeast Australia: Recent trends and projected climate change impacts. Report prepared for the Climate Institute of Australia.
  14. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228681928_Bushfire_Weather_in_Southeast_Australia_Recent_Trends_and_Projected_Climate_Change_Impacts
  15. https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/world-of-change/DecadalTemp
  16. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-14/former-fire-chief-calls-out-pm-over-refusal-of-meeting/11705330
  17. https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/full-list-of-fire-and-emergency-chiefs-recommendations-to-federal-government/
  18. http://www.blotreport.com/2020/01/13/how-murdoch-editors-lie/
  19. http://www.blotreport.com/2017/10/11/alan-jones-climate-scientist/

13 Comments

  • JON says:

    Did she ever make any public statement regarding the reality of climate change or is she another who has suddenly become aware following her leader’s total fu of the bushfire catastrophe? What’s the bet that if we had, via pure luck, only a handful of relatively small fires – which were actually extinguished early (as should be the very first aim of any fire service) – she and others in the government would still be pushing the old line. 100/1 ON in betting parlance.

    • admin says:

      Jon,
      She has actually said that climate change was a great threat to the Great Barrier Reef, but it was only in support of the half billion gift to their donors in the GBR Foundation.So, only in support of corruption.

  • Peter says:

    Rather than some road to Damascus moment though, the Minister’s statements appear to talk largely of’ ‘adaptation and mitigation’. To my admittedly cynical mind, that appears to suggest Australia needing to learn to live with a future of rising temperatures and their consequences (presuming that is possible), rather than doing anything concrete to address the basic cause of the problem (i.e. CO2 emissions). Yet another case of addressing the effect and not the cause?

  • Jim says:

    I must confess that I was surprised to learn that we have a Minister for Science. You eventually see most ministers on TV, but I do not remember seeing Karen Andrews. To say that she is low profile is putting it mildly. Many modern school students have very little idea about science. As a simple example, a few years ago we were teaching a bunch of quite keen second and third year university students some basic geology. Quite a few of them had no idea what CaCO3 meant. It was not their fault–they had simply never been taught chemical equations. This is something that goes back well before Karen Andrews’ time, but her low profile is symptomatic of the problem.

  • Russell says:

    I, like many of us, I had great cause to reflect, after recent astounding desecration of Australia’s farms, families, businesses, forests and wildlife. During, and in the wake of the conflagration, I heard transparent Liberal cant, tricky verbal back-pedalling and brazen skewing of the true story – mainly to save Morrison’s political neck from a lynching. Consequent upon those low acts, I read snivelling excuses from Murdoch’s slave-editor, trying to trivialise a disgusted employee’s principled resignation. Overall, the pathetic scramble of polly detritus that has grasped control in Australia, leaves me realising I must leave off. No protesting on streets against these swine (- sorry to genus Sus!) who lust insanely for unnecessary vast ecocide. No longer worth dwelling on; at least that’s the conclusion I arrive at for macho Canberra nut cases and environment killing puppets of coal and oil interests. And I am at end of patience with semi-literate or unenquiring voters in some places. Above all it’s just the dumb status-quo of this rather comatose land that sticks in my craw. I see now that if anything’s to save the planet, it won”t come from down under. If one has a scintilla of hope for global warming to stall at 3 degrees above the 1800 AD level (- 3 inevitable now), it only relies on Europe, China and…choke…USA. For turbo capitalism and whacky economism form the most suicidal economic-social system humans could ever have let rule their being. They have dragged Nature over a precipice already. MY CONCLUSION: WASTE NO MORE LIFE ON IT. Too many are tone deaf to the situation, bathing in a fairyland of bre….no, popcorn and circuses. That means the visual-mental slop so many Aussies suck on as baby-like adults from a media titty. And irrelevancies like rugby, basketball, Olympics, that keep many obese couch potatoes distracted. Good luck to Bolt loving dolts or Alan Jones clones. Keep up, o ye Hillabong mules braying with Scrot Moron to some Holy Hippy in Heaven. Lend an ear to the laughable, caviling babble of Labor or the Greens. Enjoy endless duping by new electro-digital toys, until all the lights all go out and we lay dying of thirst or drown in roiling oceans.
    Apres nous le deluge que nous avons si copieusement cree…. thru naked, unchecked egotism.
    Here endeth my contributions. Fear not mine hysterics.

    • admin says:

      Russell,
      I am under no illusion that my efforts can prevent apocalyptic global warming. I think that is where we are headed no matter what happens in Australia, and that apocalyptic warming will be worse here than elsewhere, at least initially. I just want to see the vacuous, venal scum we have for a government turfed out, and preferably in gaol. I also want to see the Murdoch media disappear and some of its verminous lying scum joining those in government in gaol. I also want to make sure that the children and grandchildren of all of these bastards learn to hate them for what they have done. That is the best that I can hope for.

  • Russell says:

    Basically, how does the wised-up / critically aware big section of the Oz voting public, get to do what you, admin, wish for – to SOON(!) rid the nation of the snake-oil floggers under our Marketing Mayhem Maker Scabrot MoronSin ? I “demand” outlines of a definite plan, AND a timeline, AND real, do-able acts you proposeto put upon the Illiberals. Anti-talk takes up too much of the time, sorry to say Admin. (Guilty here too of course – gold medal for Whinge events.)

  • Russell says:

    I await still the “plan of action” against a scabrous, scurrilous pack of ratbag throwbacks in Canberra. Is it to be just the invention in 2022 of an Albanese government? Labor over the past decade has been a pissweak cot-case, the active, capable political party you have when you don’t have one. We have no opposition except a party called ALP – Another Liberal-lite Party. Jeeez, what a pathetic bloody situation in this benighted, dumbo nation! Like I say, nothing will do but physically, and I do mean actually the bodies, getting rid of some of this scum in the Ill-liberal Farty. Wipe them off the planet.

    • admin says:

      Russell,
      Short of taking up arms, the only way to get rid of this government is to have such massive demonstrations (February 4 is the next one), that the politicians will realise that their position is untenable. The first step in doing this is to demolish NewsCorp, such that we get more journalism and less propaganda. I think the problem with the Labor Party is that it has been so damaged by wedging from the Liberals among those whose political engagement extends no further than headlines, that they are now gun-shy. As a consequence of this, they have become addicted to being a small target.

  • JON says:

    “And I am at end of patience with semi-literate or unenquiring voters in some places. Above all it’s just the dumb status-quo of this rather comatose land that sticks in my craw.”
    Couldn’t agree more Russell. Made a similar comment to my daughter overseas the other day. We can point the finger at corrupt and incompetent politicians and their fawning mates in the media but in the end it’s the willful complacency and ignorance of the hoi polloi which has made this country second rate. And, judging by his public utterances so far, electing an Albanese-led Labor govt will make sfa to that situation unfortunately. I can’t think of one politician in this cuntry who has spoken about the medium to long term future when most of our resources will have been dug up or tapped and shipped overseas.

    • admin says:

      Jon,
      I tend to agree with you. I don’t see any politicians worthy of consideration either. I think we are headed for an insurrection.

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