Climate Change is a buzz issue. The opinion pages of Australia’s leading newspapers have been filled with claims, ripostes and counter-ripostes as the debate on the changing climate, humanities contribution to the change in climate and whether climatic change is a change at all rages with no set end in sight. This media coverage and debates over Australia’s reluctance to sign the Kyoto protocol, the release of the Stern Report, and Peter Garrett’s appointment as Shadow Minister for Climate Change have all positioned climate change as a central issue in the upcoming Australian Federal Election.
That the climate is changing is undeniable – just like it’s undeniable that a large portion of Australia is in the throes of a long running drought. I’m not going to argue with that. However, I may have been miseducated but I thought we expected the climate to change from time to time. We have these things called seasons, we have meteorologists who forecast changes in weather – We’ve been taught that an ice age wiped out dinosaurs. If the world was once covered in ice, and now is not, it makes sense that the ice caps continue to melt rather than stagnate. The world’s climate is so finely balanced that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in China is said to cause a hurricane in Australia (ok so that’s just poetic hyperbole but it makes the point). What I will argue, along with my friend Benny, is that climate change should not be an election issue.
Ben’s analogy when arguing about why policy on climate change should not be a central election campaign issue related it to running an election campaign based on which party had the best plan to defend against alien and UFO attacks. Not because the issue isn’t real but because the issue isn’t an election issue. If the planets climate is changing there is very little that our country of 20 million people can do. While our fossil fuel emissions are fairly high per capita we’ve got nothing on the US or other “developing” first world markets. Our emissions are a small drop in the global bucket. Climate change is not a local issue, it’s a global issue. Campaigning on Climate Change is easy point scoring for any opposition party who can easily take the moral high ground and point fingers at all the areas that can be improved. It’s a popular issue thanks to the left wing media’s desire to pander to the stupidity and gullibility of the average consumer and it allows the opposition to be lazy. If climate change wins the next election for either party the electorate will have been dealt a disservice when other issues like education, health, roads and the strength of the economy should be firmly on the agenda. Sure, we could all be looking after the environment better – and we all should be. But go plant a tree or do your bit individually. Culturally Australian’s have a habit of bignoting our global importance based on our performances in the scientific and sporting arenas. We’re better educated than most countries and we tend to punch above our weight – but we’re small potatoes when it comes to population and associated issues. The election should be about the goverment which will best manage the country – not who will blow the climate change trumpet the loudest. If we educate our people better individuals will be better positioned to think about climate change and other issues. If we have better infrastructure our industry will be able to consider better environmental practices. Climate change is a spin off issue – not a root cause. Having a minister for climate change is like having a Minister for Philosophy or a Minister for the Ocean. Dumb.