So Pauline Hanson is back and this time she’s fighting the ‘Climate Change Agenda’ which apparently is this:
“Climate change has and will continue to be used as a political agenda by politicians and self-interest groups or individuals for their own gain. We cannot allow scare mongering by people such as Tim Flannery, who make outlandish statements and are not held accountable. Climate change should not be about making money for a lot of people and giving scientists money. Lets know the facts and scientific evidence to make a well-informed decision as to how best to look after our environment.”
Now like many (but not all) Australians Pauline Hanson does make me feel more than a little uncomfortable at times. I can’t believe that she can get this far with logic and rhetoric like this but she has and that has given her some legitimacy that I feel compelled to pay attention to. So what about this Climate Skepticism?
Well basically I’m not going to start an argue that goes ‘Global Warming is a thing and everyone believes in it so you should’ as that is childish and not entirely true. As a scientist I can get my head around the fact that pumping pollution into the air (that we breathe) and having it land on the ground (where our food grows) or in a water (that we drink) is a bad thing. That burning certain things releases energy in the way of heat and that heat can become trapped in the environment and warm it up. But that’s all I know for sure. The rest, the ‘what happens next’ is based on scenarios and modelling that may or may not turn out. Some parts of the environment might turn out to be more sensitive to this pollution and extra heat while others less so. Some areas might even thrive. Then there is the reality that nature its self can come out and surprise us and there is also the little matter of the sun and its solar energy which pumps out variable levels and intensities of radiation, none of which we can do anything about. So what am I saying? That while I am happy enough with the rationale behind the science of global warming, I am also happy to admit that there are forces larger than us (humans) with greater powers of influence than we have, that can undermine our efforts at any time.
But that’s just life!
I’d like to see the discussions about the environment moved from it being ‘Climate Change’ to ‘Environmental Health’ or something similar. I actually blame the likes of Al Gore for turning what should be an important conversation on manners, respect and human decency into a power struggle of THEM vs US (them being the polluters and US being the greenies). While I appreciate that concern over the state of the environment didn’t start and won’t end with Gore or his brand of Climate Change cowboys I do feel that something went terribly wrong when it all became a market opportunity. Oh how we love the sound of green tills ringing…..
Coming back to my idea of environmental health/ stewardship I see it like this. We don’t have to believe that our house is infested with super bugs and crawling with insects and rats before we take action and clean up after ourselves. We generally wash the dishes before they become a festering pile of muck, take our shoes off rather than tramp dirty mud across the carpet, wash our bed sheets before they start to stink of old feet and vacuum up the cat hair before we end up hospitalised with hairballs. Why should our outside environment be any different? Our environment is an extension of ourselves after all.
Unlike the 1970’s, 80’s or even 90’s we now have cleaner ways of doing things, ways that don’t put pollutants into the air, soil and water. Solar power is a good idea because it is clean, whether it STOPS GLOBAL WARMING or even slows it down a little doesn’t really matter and any belief either for or against that should not stop people giving it a go (in my opinion). Economically I understand that the big end of town are worried about things like electricity getting more expensive if we change anything, about noise or the appearance of things like wind farms or the shear wackiness of turning your own excrement into biosolids and burning them on your fire. But prices of these ‘alternative energy sources’ are coming down, right at a time when coal is becoming less viable and I can’t imagine any scenario where someone could make the burning of coal for energy cleaner and more environmentally friendly than harnessing the power of the sun. And for those saying ‘you can’t just rely on the sun, it’s not as reliable as coal or nuclear I’d say that storage technology is addressing that and in many cases it is now as reliable AND MUCH CLEANER.
So what I’m saying here is this, renewable energy is not called clean energy for nothing. Forget climate change and just focus on clean vs dirty and see how that feels.
Australia is the lucky country but I’d not like to see that luck run out because we couldn’t be arsed to grow up and start cleaning up after ourselves. We have a country full of smart engineering minds, hectares of space, thousands of hours of sun and wind and a country that would breathe a lot easier if the air was that little bit cleaner.
Let’s not let semantics get in the way of a cleaner future.