Word has it that Donald Trump and Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnball are not getting on well these days. But, on one issue, they are brothers-in-arms. Michael Mann and Christopher Wright write:
In an opening fortnight of controversial executive orders, President Trump has decreed the expansion of major fossil fuel developments including the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, and the neutering of long-standing environmental protections. In addition, he and his leadership team have made it plain they intend to dismantle many of the Obama administration’s climate initiatives and withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. All this runs in direct counterpoint to the rapid decarbonisation required to avoid dangerous climate change.
For Australian fossil fuel interests, President Trump’s war on climate appears particularly opportune. Just last week, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his senior ministers floated the idea of government backing for new coal-fired power stations as part of the government’s response to Australia’s “energy security” and expressed reticence over the country’s Renewable Energy Target.
For a country that has nurtured world-leading innovations in solar photovoltaic and other renewable energy technologies and that is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change – be it in the form of record heat, devastating floods, more widespread drought, coastal inundation from sea level rise combined with stronger tropical storms, or the demise of the Great Barrier Reef – doubling down on the traditional fossil fuel energy path is particularly short-sighted.
If there is one characteristic that both men share, it is shortsigthedness. Both have leveraged profits against the future -- much like the Tobacco Lords of two generations ago:
Like big tobacco before them, fossil fuel advocates have attacked mainstream climate science to confuse the public and policymakers about the reality and threat of human-caused climate change. As a result, we have seen a full-scale assault on a century and half of established science. For many climate scientists this has involved attacks from conservative politicians and rightwing lobby groups, orchestrated campaigns of harassment via mainstream and social media, challenges to job security and careers, and in some cases, death threats. Indeed, as recounted in The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, one of us (Michael Mann) has been subject to all of those things.
Beyond destroying our politics and corroding public trust in science, climate change denial also threatens the future of a habitable planet and a viable global economy. As a growing body of research has revealed, the maintenance of a “fossil fuels forever” mentality has real implications for the future of global food production, biodiversity, social functioning and geopolitical security. Leading economies around the world have recognised that the decarbonisation of energy and transport systems are key to the future prosperity of human civilisation.
No wonder Mr. Turnball isn't up in arms about Trump's phone call. They are Brothers-In-Denial.
Image: Free Malaysia Today