Yesterday, around this fair land of Oz, various people grabbed their best set of dentures or cleanest singlet and set out against “The Man” – who just happens to be Australia’s first female prime minister. Egged on by hack science miscommunicators and a prime minister wannabe with nothing much going for him but for appealing to the lowest common denominator, these angry people headed to parliament houses around the country to say, “No to CO2 tax!”
I had the shock of my life when heading into work that morning, I passed a group from CSIRO under umbrellas, holding coffee mugs in one hand and signs in the other by the road side. “Surely”, I thought, “these people are smarter than that!”
It turned out to be a coincidence – some protest about internet connectivity or something (I failed to get the finer points as I drove by).
A few day’s ago, Mike of WtD had this to say about the CO2 tax protest;
I’ll drop by the Melbourne protests out of curiosity.
Seriously, my prediction for the day’s turnout?
A few hundred mostly elderly, white, lower-middle to middle class “protestors” who are also angry at a range of issues like “refuges” and “speed cameras” and “the Family Court”…
The usual intellectual fringe dwellers that flock to causes such as “climate change scepticism”
I see a veritable sea of sensible cardigans, leisure wear and socks worn with sandals.
Unfortunately (or possibly fortunately) I didn’t have a chance to see Adelaide’s version of the insanity, but I managed to catch Triple J’s Hack coverage of the fun in Canberra (first 10mins of this podcast). The sea of grey hair was ever present – 3000 people strong.
Reporter, John Barrington asked, “People here today are saying that they’re not convinced about science about humans contributing to climate change, are you convinced?”
To which Coreena, one of the few young protesters, replied, “No I’m not convinced. Yeah, I think they need to present the facts to us. Give a website or send out some pamphlets or, you know, maybe some third party opinions so that we can read the information ourselves…”
Some counter protesters were angrily drowned out. “…if you want to protest, go over there, this is the protest against the carbon tax. So if you’d like to do your own, go over on the street or somewhere please. Because, at the moment, the people over here are dedicated hard workers and all’s they care about is their families and making sure that they can bring in money to pay the bills.”
Ellen Sandell, the national director of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition commented on the protest, “…the average age was about 65. It wasn’t representative of the community. I think the 8000 people who showed up in Melbourne two weeks ago… which was people of all ages and all walks of life was much more representative of the community and I think the community does want a tax on pollution.
It does seem very reflective of the denial movement. It’s not as reflective of the general public as it would like to think. It uses ignorance of the information available, as Coreena demonstrates. Instead of a reasonable argument, it drowns out the evidence and hypocritically demands it’s room to say what it likes, while refusing as much from those how don’t agree.
And Mike seemed to be on the mark regarding the age.
No other generation profited so much as the babyboomers from the fossil fuel era, so it’s only reasonable that they’re the most vocal in denying that the they profited at the expense of future climate stability (of course they weren’t to know, obviously). The true tragedy however is that there is an obvious age difference on this issue and the most vocal are not those who will witness the worst of business-as-usual.
A day on and the political talk has began.
Ellen Sandell also stated, “Some of the slogans were pretty offensive… it’s a bit irresponsible for people like Tony Abbott be to associating with those groups.”
Sure, no-one would argue the right to protest, but should a PM wanna-be support a protest, standing by a sign that reads, “JuLIAR… BOB BROWNS BITCH”, a protect with complete careless disregard of Godwin’s law?
It’s no secret that I have no respect for Abbott that goes back to his days as health minister under Howard, but you’re not likely to see me resort to such language – I’d argue that every time the man opens his mouth he discredits himself more than any slur that could be hurled at him.
Every time the political point has been, “it’ll ruin the economy!” and yet the policies have been implemented it’s failed to achieve such prophecies. As Dr Dessler states (in the interview mentioned in the previous post), “it’s kind of an amazing argument. They always make this argument before every environmental regulation. Before ozone depletion, that’s what they said. Before acid rain, that’s what they said. And you know, every time it turns out to be wrong and they never seem to lose their credibility on this argument.”
Lord Stern in A Blueprint for a safer Planet, constructs a compelling argument for expecting the worst case scenario of 2% of the global GDP over the next 40yrs to keep the probability of temperature increase of above 3oC relatively low. It seems a small price for insuring long term security. Properly addressing innovation and development could see new industries open up, reducing the cost further and stimulating job growth – but of course that would only occur where we ambitiously face the problems facing the coming century. That we have rallies to protect an energy source that is increasingly insecure cannot logically be explained except to protect certain industrial interests.
The older protesters have only known the good times and done very well from them. The younger, in my opinion, have bought into an old fear tactic that deserves no logical basis. They’re throwing their support in technology that is increasingly outdated. I just hope the the majority of Australians come to a simple conclusion; Tony Abbott is simply unfit to be Prime minister. No only are his view outdated and against Australia’s long term prosperity (Ellen also mentioned that in discussions with him, he accepted the science behind climate change, but his belief was that it wasn’t a big concern – would you trust the man to diagnose your illness?), by supporting such a rally, he supports the slogans being hurled around.
Something that Abbott made no apologies about, “When it comes to strong language, I think the Prime Minister has used some very strong language in the Parliament and there haven’t been any apologies for that strong language in the Parliament.”
Something which is arguably somewhat different to the anti-semitic behaviour noted by Ellan Sandell and the extremist and conspiracy theorist groups noted by Greg Combet and Nick Champion.
If people like Coreena would like a website on climate change, there are many run by actual working atmospheric scientists. If people are worried about their finances, they should first note that, “it’ll ruin the economy!” hysteria is about as prophetic as the biblical Armageddon and then read up on the subject – I’d suggest Nicholas Stern’s book above as another person who hasn’t got a strong economic background, I’ve so far found it easy to follow and very informative. If people want to entertain conspiracies and indulge in Godwin’s law – I’d suggest you look up Pete Ridley and start a club for the half-baked ideas.
The rallies did serve a purpose and I’d argue that it was contrary to the point intended. It wasn’t concerned about the science and it wasn’t concerned about security of long term prosperity. It was a collection of people voicing incoherent and assorted angers, urging to keep things just as they are. It was a protest for stagnation.