Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Climate Change: What Australia Knew – and Buried

Taylor’s book shows how Australia could have acted on climate change a quarter of a century ago, but how corporate interests and economic ideologies not only stopped the clock on action, but wound it back

Australia was ready to act on climate 25 years ago, so what happened next?, Guardian, , 7 Aug 15  New book investigates how corporate interests and ideologues worked to make Australia doubt what it knew about climate change and its risks. 

book Global Warming & Climate Change

There’s something about climate change that almost everyone in Australia has either forgotten or never knew in the first place.

In 1990 Bob Hawke announced his government wanted the country to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by the year 2005.

For a fleeting moment, it seemed the Australian public, politicians and the media were in agreement with the science.

But a new book investigates how the industries that stood to lose the most worked to undermine the science and entirely reshape the story being told to the public.

“We have been propagandised,” says the author, Maria Taylor. 

Hawke was ready

In 1989 Hawke described a “growing consensus amongst scientists” showing there was a strong chance that major climate change was on its way, that this change was linked to human activity, and this could have “major ramifications for human survival” if nothing was done.

Public statements by scientists in Australia and around the world, backed by government reports and research, had established unambiguously that humans were causing climate change. Bold steps needed to be taken if the major risks of catastrophic climate change were to be mediated.

The UN’s intergovernmental plan on climate change delivered its first blockbuster assessment of the climate science in 1990.

Taylor’s book recalls how Australia was working its way towards a detailed plan to deliver Hawke’s proposal. State governments had response strategies in place. Politicians were largely on board. So was the fourth estate. The public understood the science and the huge risks of not acting.

Now, a quarter of a century later, climate change has been turned into a toxic political football. Scientists have their integrity attacked on a daily basis……….

In the book Taylor explains how from the late 1980s industry groups, free market advocates and climate contrarians got to work to reframe the issue from the science to the economics.

By 1996 much of the damage was done. The advent of John Howard’s government ensured there would be no more genuine progress.

Taylor charts how opponents helped reposition environment groups as being anti-jobs and against the national interest. The book documents how climate science deniers were promoted by “free market” thinktanks to push uncertainty instead of risk.

She explains the shift to policies driven by “economic rationalism” meant that imposing regulations on polluting industries became close to impossible……..

Taylor also leans on the findings of two 2001 books that revealed the influence of industry and free-market ideology on Australia’s greenhouse gas policy – Clive Hamilton’s Scorcher and Guy Pearce’s High and Dry………

For me, Taylor’s book shows how Australia could have acted on climate change a quarter of a century ago, but how corporate interests and economic ideologies not only stopped the clock on action, but wound it back.http://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2015/aug/06/how-australians-were-ready-to-act-on-climate-science-25-years-ago-and-what-happened-next?CMP=twt_environment*gdneco

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August 7, 2015 - Posted by | climate change - global warming, Resources

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