Coalition’s great big climate hoax turns to outright denial

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First, the Coalition sought to deny that its climate policies would ever evolve into something that actually reduces emissions. Now, it is seeking to remove evidence that climate change is having any impact at all.

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The far right of the Coalition has maintained enormous ideological discipline to insist – in the face of ever mounting evidence to the contrary – that climate science is a giant hoax.

That climate denial – still evident in most of the conservative rump of the party, even if Barnaby Joyce now wonders if “climate change might be real” after staring at a dry creek bed on his family property – has now seeped through to everyday government.

Two events this week highlight how this ideological intransigence retains its hold over the Turnbull administration.

The first came earlier this week when environment minister Greg Hunt was forced to deny the idea that Direct Action – once dismissed as a “fig leaf” for climate action by his boss, Malcolm Turnbull – would evolve into a type of emissions trading scheme.

The second event came when it was revealed by The Guardian that Hunt’s environment department had managed to have removed any mention of Australia in a UNESCO report on the environmental impacts of climate change and world heritage sites.

Hunt’s department defended itself, suggesting that such reports might be bad for tourism. They might as well have demanded that the Great Barrier Reef be removed from all maps in Australian schools.

It’s extraordinary stuff. The ANU’s Will Steffen, one of the scientific reviewers of the axed section on the reef, described it as astounding and said Australia’s move was reminiscent of “the old Soviet Union”.

Censored-GBR-RenewEconomy copy
Greg Foyster

The climate policy hoax was brought to a head when Alan Kohler wrote a story about the the Coalition’s “secret emissions trading scheme”, noting how Direct Action could evolve, through its “safeguards mechanism” into a baseline and credit emissions trading scheme.

None of this is new. That was and remains the case, but Hunt has two problems. First, he needs to attack Labor with an electricity scare tax campaign, at the same time as trying to hide from the public, and his own far right wing, that Coalition policy is designed to follow a similar course if it is ever to achieve anything.

Direct Action has already been described as a hopeless waste of money handing out funds to people largely doing things they were intending to do anyway, through the $2.5 billion emissions reduction fund.

The safeguards component is supposed to be a cap on emissions, but it is so generous it allows polluters to emit at their highest levels for the last six years without question, or even more if they can provide justification for doing so.

It is, as it stands, no restriction at all. But if the safeguards are tightened, then companies will then earn tradable credits and penalties – effectively morphing into a sort of emissions trading scheme originally favoured by the architects of Direct Action.

The fact that the Coalition is seeking to deny this is one thing, but the censorship of the UNESCO report is quite another. Remember how the Coalition bridled when Barack Obama brought the issue around the Great Barrier Reef to the world’s attention at the APEC conference in Brisbane? The Coalition would have liked to have censor the US president too.

Labor branded the censorship of the UNESCO report as the “Great Barrier to Truth”. Spokesman Mark Butler said “Turnbull is trying to bury the existence of climate change” by getting the Environment Department to eliminate mentions of Australia.

“Report after report, expert after expert, tells us that the biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef is climate change,” Butler said. “How could UNESCO miss this? They didn’t. The Government made sure it was left out.”

This is what the report wanted to say, and has been released by lead author Adam Markham, through his employer, the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“The biggest threat to the GBR today, and to its ecosystems services, biodiversity, heritage values and tourism economy, is climate change, including warming sea temperatures, accelerating rates of sea level rise, changing weather patterns and ocean acidification.”

This threat to tourism is the devil in the detail. While the Coalition and state Labor government have sought to welcome the expansion of the coal industry, the risks to the reef and its tourism and its 4,800 direct jobs have been growing by the week.

This was one reason why tourism operators feared rocking the boat on federal climate policy, although some have now broken ranks – in the midst of the worst ever bleaching event – and openly called on the Coalition to act.

Of course, this is not the first time that the Coalition has sought to censure information. One of its very first acts when elected in 2013 was to abolish the Climate Commission, which was providing updates on climate science. That has since re-emerged as a private-and-crowd-funded Climate Council.

Then the Coalition sought to abolish the Climate Change Authority, which publishes advice on how the government should act to address the climate change issue. Those reports, which constantly recommend a significantly more ambitious policy, are a source of embarrassment to the government.

These shenanigans are rapidly gaining more widespread attention. In the New York Times this week, columnist wrote: “So it’s coral versus coal, the earth’s health against a big industry, and science versus the Abbott-inspired denial gang.”

But it’s not just Abbott. Turnbull has long known what is at stake. “Yet, Turnbull, beholden to Abbott’s right wing of the Liberal Party, has, as leader, done his best to forget what he said six years ago.”

More Greg Foyster cartoons can be found here.

 

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42 Comments
  1. howardpatr 3 years ago

    Cayman Turnbull being revealed each day as the ineffectual LNP Prime Minister, burdened as he is, by the right wing religious conservatives who continue dominate.

    His election will see the ghost of Mad Monk Abbott flourish unabated.

  2. suthnsun 3 years ago

    My additional problem is that tourism as it is currently practised is totally unsustainable and we can’t hang our hats on that to motivate.

  3. Glenda Jones 3 years ago

    Please explain how billions of Taxpayer dollars will cool the earth ??

    • Chris Marshalk 3 years ago

      You have got to be kidding??? Liberals really are narrow minded backward thinkers

      • MaxG 3 years ago

        I doubt they can think!

    • John McKeon 3 years ago

      A world wide effort to cease fossil fuel CO2 pollution of the atmosphere will ultimately stop the planet’s climate from getting a lot worse. The sooner this is done, Glenda, the better.

    • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

      it’s not about cooling, it’s about preventing 6-8ºC of average temp anomaly we’re on track for which is the end of civilisation as we know it and mass starvations (as in billions of people in NE/SE Asia) , resource and water access wars. Billions of dollars works out to less than a dollar a person whose life will be destroyed. That’s not even exploring the effects on future generations, which will be worse and worse for centuries (unless so amazing geo-engineering tech becomes available and that’s not even science fiction at this point) . If you have a problem with that please be the first to leave this planet if you are so selfish.

    • Chris Fraser 3 years ago

      Are you talking about the ERF ? We’re not sure really.

    • johnnewton 3 years ago

      Another one

    • solarguy 3 years ago

      Go away fool!

    • solarguy 3 years ago

      Sorry girl, but have to say, completely brain dead!

    • DevMac 3 years ago

      Your question sounds inflammatory. Changing humans habit costs a lot. Try using less electricity and gas and petrol and see how hard it is, and how much monetary convincing you’ll need to make the changes stick.

  4. des_reputable 3 years ago

    Okay……heres a piece written by Joanne Nova as regards ocean pH and coral, and after reading it, I had to ask, so how much has the ocean’s pH supposed to have changed? – it does look as though the fractional change is within the indeterminate band of measurement for the ocean.

    “The last time I looked, the oceans were pronouncedly alkaline, and even the mad IPCC says the acid-base balance has been altered by only 0.1 acid/base units in the direction of slightly reduced alkalinity. However, that estimate, like much else in the IPCC’s mad gospels, is entirely guesswork, because there is no sufficiently well-resolved global measurement program for ocean pH. However, elementary theoretical considerations would lead us to expect homoeostasis in the acid/base balance of the oceans because the buffering influence of the rock basins in which they live and move and have their being is overwhelmingly powerful. Acid/base neutrality is at a pH of 7.0. The oceans are at about 7.8-8.2 (no one knows, so that the IPCC’s alleged dealkalinization of 0.1 acid/base units is well within the measurement error, so that we cannot actually be sure that it has occurred at all; and, on the elementary ground I have described, it is unlikely to have done so). Besides, there is about 50 times as much CO2 already dissolved in the oceans than there is in the atmosphere, so that even if all of the CO2 in the atmosphere were to make its way into the oceans the pH would scarcely change even in the absence of the overwhelming buffering effect of the rocks. As for calcifying organisms, they are thriving. The calcite corals first achieved algal symbiosis and came into being 550 million years ago (you are too young to remember) during the Cambrian era, when atmospheric CO2 concentration was 25 times what it is today. The more delicate aragonite corals came into being 175 million years ago, during the Jurassic, when CO2 concentration was still 15 times today’s. “Ah,” you may say, “but it is the suddenness of the abrupt increase in CO2 concentration that the fragile corals will not be able to endure.” However, consider the great floods of the Brisbane River (eight of them from 1840-1900 and three of them since). The rainwater that pours into the ocean and meets the Great Barrier Reef is pronouncedly acid, at a pH of 5.4. Yet the corals do not curl up and die. “Ah,” you may say, “but what about the effect of sudden warming on the puir wee corals?” Well, the Great el Nino of 1997/8 gives us the answer to that one. Sudden increases in ocean temperature cause the corals to bleach. There have been two previous Great el Ninos in the past 300 years, and the corals bleached on both those occasions too. It is a natural defense mechanism against natural change. The corals continue to thrive. My brother and his three sport-mad boys dive on the reef every year and, like many others from whom I have heard, find the corals thriving except where the Crown of Thorns infestation has damaged small parts of the reef. Oh, and the Great Barrier Reef Authority, which has been moaning about the effects of rising sea temperatures on the corals, publish a dataset that shows zero increase in sea temperature in the region of the reef throughout the entire period of record. Don’t hold your breath worrying about ocean “acidification”: it can’t happen, even if all the CO2 in the air goes into the ocean.”
    https://climatism.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/shock-news-the-ocean-is-not-getting-acidified/

    • lin 3 years ago

      I would suggest that you read more widely on the topic than a sceptic blog. This is an interesting read.
      http://ocean.si.edu/ocean-acidification
      The rate of change we are seeing is the big problem, as it does not allow the ecosystems time to adapt.
      “The current rate of change is much more rapid than during any event over the last 65 million years. These changes in ocean chemistry are irreversible for many thousands of years, and the biological consequences could last much longer.”
      – The InterAcademy Panel, June 1, 2009

      • des_reputable 3 years ago

        Had a look – good for principles, but a bit short on actual field studies etc (unless I did not read far enough). For example, all kinds of marine carbonate-y things grow in ships ballast holds, etc, yet the iron being slowly dissolved around them (must affect local pH in the ballast) does not seem to inhibit them? I’ll bet ship owners wish they did!

        • Wayne 3 years ago

          Des.
          I’m not big on “shooting the messenger” but in this case, your reference using Jo Nova as a reference, needs to be countered.
          Have you checked her academic references. To ensure she has enough qualifications to counter the academic knowledge she should at the minimum have a doctorate in a field related to climate.
          Since she is presenting on Oceanography, she should have preferably a degree in that field. [advanced?]
          Jo Nova :- Credentials
          * Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology from the Uni of Western Australia.
          * Graduate Certificate in Science Communications from ANU

          I had a look at one of her referenced studies and found that it was not a reviewed science paper in a reputable science magazine. The referenced paper of “Takahashi, A. and Kurihara, H. 2013” contained no links. Dubious to say the least.
          CO2 Science website you reference through Nova.
          Chairman :-Dr. Idso :- is the former Director of Environmental Science at Peabody Energy in St. Louis, Missouri. Coal money.
          President :-SHERWOOD B. IDSO
          Vice President :- KEITH E. IDSO
          All the same family? Sound genuine to you?

          When your quoting people, might be worth having a look at the actual scientists telling you about AGW and oceans etc.
          Dr William Steffen – Researcher – ANU
          https://researchers.anu.edu.au/researchers/steffen-wl
          It’s all about how much books/articles in reputable peer reviewed high quality publications and how often they are referenced by peers.
          Bottom line, fringe authors writing in blogs unlinked and unreviewed by peers [Ph.D] don’t count.

          • des_reputable 3 years ago

            Yes – there are good reasons that the peer-reviewed system exists, – I read it is there for “standards of quality, improve performance, and provide credibility” according to wikipedia. However, the process has its doubters:
            “Peer Review, a flawed process”
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1420798/
            Another example: being slavish about peer-reviewed papers, will probably mean no novel work will be adopted mainstream, as none of the peers thought of it first!
            It also means the deck can be stacked in favour of the status quo – food manufacturers can fund paper after paper supporting their product – eg I’ve heard Coke has funded a lot of papers regarding positive nutritional aspects of sucrose. And so on. It is narrow in the extreme to not question a fundamental assumption simply because too many papers state otherwise? Of course you would need good reason, and “something about it doesn’t sound right” is a good start, if you have some real-life example.
            In this case, certain statements have been made by someone who would have a good idea about effects of pH on organisms. Doesn’t matter who they are funded by – if the question is on the level of a basic assumption, it can either be defended or overturned successfully, even if eventually.
            Looking at real life, I find it ridiculous to compare the 0.1 change in pH in the human bloodstream as causing problems, to say that same level of change in something as diffuse and varied as the ocean has a similar level of effect! Consider things like currents, deep-sea vents, ship graveyards, magma outflows, rock weathering in diverse places are just some examples of how currents of + or minus 0.1pH could be created and flow in the complex multi-level structure of the ocean, also with regard to temperature, suspended solids, diatomaceous and algal blooms, etc, etc. Beggars belief that it all remains consistent within 0.1pH resolution for hundreds or thousands or years at a time!
            I gave a small example of calciferous marine life that loves to live in ballast tanks of ships, or even on the hull – the metal *must* cause localised pH changes, surely?
            Here is a paper (link at bottom) regarding conservation of a wreck in about 1.8m water in WA – quotes things like local pH on average was 8.25±0.04, iron surface pH 6.85±0.27; and pH of seawater at site was as follows for the given dates: [email protected]/11/01; [email protected]/11/01; [email protected]/11/01; [email protected]/1/02 – thats a variation of 0.32 from max to min!
            Now I doubt the authors of this paper are either climate scientists or oceanographers, but the information contained therein gives us real-life examples of what does and doesn’t happen with pH in the sea. We can use this to ask common-sense questions when we are told that 0.1pH variation is causing coral bleaching – now I could only guess at what does cause it and when, but it sure doesn’t sound as simple as an overall drop of 0.1pH

            https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjcwb7-7_7MAhWF5KYKHZPiDTQQFggtMAM&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nma.gov.au%2F__data%2Fassets%2Fpdf_file%2F0007%2F346039%2FNMA_metals_s1_p6_corrosion_cathodic_protection.pdf&usg=AFQjCNHxQnLVccj7scBkzxzdeIcEGtlpvw&bvm=bv.123325700,d.dGY

    • Carl Raymond S 3 years ago

      Ifleavingoutcarriagereturnsisaploytomakeyourtextlookmoreintelligent, thenleavingoutspacesmustsurelymakemeagenius. Orperhapsacompletefool.

      • DevMac 3 years ago

        I upvoted you, however the carriage returns seem to disappear as a result of how Disqus processes the text. They almost always get removed from my comments, forcing me to Edit to put them back – and when I do that, they stay there. Weird
        New Paragraph.
        Another New Paragraph.
        Yet another new paragraph. I’ll leave this post unedited, which will probably have the CRs removed.

    • solarguy 3 years ago

      A few years ago I needed some chlorine free water for my aquarium during a water change, which also needed to be at least PH 7 and no lower. So I collected some rain water, guess what the PH was? It was PH 6.3
      Now that’s concerning!

  5. lin 3 years ago

    The current government have proven themselves many times over to be untrustworthy, deceitful, and economical with the truth. They are very willing to spend our taxes to subsidise their backers from the fossil fuel industries. Their worldview is incompatible with action to reduce our carbon emissions. They are dangerous idiots and must be removed from power.

    • solarguy 3 years ago

      Why would any one with brains and who hasn’t been living under a rock disagree with that statement.

  6. Askgerbil Now 3 years ago

    There was a third event on 13 May when the Coalition effectively denied its commitment in December 2015 at COP21 to a target of carbon emissions to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

    Josh Frydenberg gave a speech on 13 May 2016 in which he described the collapse in demand for coal as “We’ve returned to more normal, cyclical patterns of demand” and also said India is forecast to become the world’s largest coal importer by 2020, seeking to almost treble its coal fired power generation between now and 2040.

    For the December 2015 committment – to achieve carbon emissions to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius – the Australian Government projects India’s demand for coal will rise just a little to 2020 then decline steadily to 2040. See http://blog.gerbilnow.com/2016/05/how-many-climate-policies-does.html

    • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

      +1.5º C temp anomaly would most likely occur even if we stopped all human sourced GHG emissions at 6PM tonight. This is because of the lag (at least ten yeas) between emissions and full ‘equilibrium’ effect (and positive feedbacks may take up to 100 years to play out). Already at 1ºC, and ceasing all anthropogenic GHG emissions then the cooling particulates that are short lived would stop entering the atmosphere, there’s approximately +0.3º C of warming there alone.

      And that’s if we stopped all emission tonight, what about the protracted denialist of CC in most major Governments around the world and corporate pressure to go for incremental solutions? What of the fact that we don’t even discuss seriously the ag sector emissions in this country which are 54% of national inventory using 20yr GWP and soon will be 50% using 100 yr GWP?

      Libs are climate criminals taking bribes from the main sources of ecosystem and life support destruction. ALP also on the take and trying to look like the business when MPs like Martin Ferguson prove just how deeply corrupted they are also by the FF dollar.

      • Cooma Doug 3 years ago

        Your knowledge in this area and the details are very interesting and helpful to this duscussion. Please continue.

      • solarguy 3 years ago

        Well Alistair, Martin Ferguson was on the take I reckon and is disliked by certain people in the Labor Party, including me, I hate the weak head prick personally and I can assure you that Labor is glad to be rid of him.
        If you want an anti RE government then vote for Turnbull. If you want action on Climate change vote Labor !

    • Ken Dyer 3 years ago

      You would think the Coalition would be charging off down to Morwell to help prop up the workers ever since the French Government flagged the closure of Hazelwood, and not before time either. But no, Hunt, Frydenberg, et all live in their own little world, ignoring the realities of the demise of coal. At the moment there are over 91,000,000 tonnes of surplus coal in India. The Adani coal mine will never go ahead; Adani is seeking solar opportunities in Australia. Meanwhile, it gets hotter and the coral gets whiter. But as far as the COALition is concerned it is the opposite; coal is the great white knight; and the GBF is bursting with colour. The answer is simple, don’t vote for liars and fools.

      • solarguy 3 years ago

        How could I or anyone with brains disagree Ken!

  7. Alastair Leith 3 years ago

    when the maldives coral bleaching destroyed much of the reef systems tourism operators were still able to exploit the 1% of the reef intact. they actually are pretty useless as campaigners to save the reef as a general rule, with some obvious exceptions.

  8. Alen T 3 years ago

    Giles, I think you were referring to Obama’s comment about the Great Barrier Reef at the G20 summit in Brisbane not the APEC summit.

  9. solarguy 3 years ago

    Lies, misinformation, hiding or bending the truth, sounds similar to how Nazi Germany came into being.
    The LNP sound just like this and need natural justice to be effected on them this coming election. Out, out ,out on their collective arses.

    • lin 3 years ago

      Not to mention demonising minorities and using the police to attack political rivals, These guys are ticking off the attributes of authoritarian government at an alarming rate.

      • solarguy 3 years ago

        Too right mate!

  10. Suburbable 3 years ago

    Censorship is hardly suprising when we have a Socialist government. Democracy was thrown out of the window as soon as this lot got into power. Remember the outright lies and denials about election promises in their early days. Even people protesting against development could be detained as terrorists. What else are they censoring?

    • solarguy 3 years ago

      Ah, mate a right wing government can hardly be seen as socialist. Perhaps you meant Fascist!

      • Suburbable 3 years ago

        Fascist is a simplification of what they are up to. I wish they were that simple. The truth is that they are clever bastards, distracting us with idiotic climate change policies while they gut welfare, distracting us with welfare cuts while they kill refugees…the list goes on and on.
        Socialism as we have seen it fail globally seems the best label for their actions.

        • solarguy 3 years ago

          I agree with what your saying here subbie old mate, but please google what socialism is please, for f..k sake.

          • Suburbable 3 years ago

            I would point out though that we are technically living in an oligarchy (could be an OILgarchy) and people are responsing on a shallow view of both fascism and socialism. If you’ve ever lived in a socialist country you could be aware of the points of confusion between socialism and fascism.

          • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

            i’m guessing you live in North America, where words can mean whatever you’d like them to mean for any given sentence. You have no idea what socialism means, irrespective of what has been done in it’s name.

    • DevMac 3 years ago

      Socialist. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  11. Mark Roest 3 years ago

    While we are on the subject of hoaxes and denial, consider this story: http://forhumanliberation.blogspot.com/2016/05/2337-australia-fearing-fewer-tourists.html Coalition policies help trash the Great Barrier Reef, then Coalition envoys do whatever they did to force UN to delete the news to prevent tourists from turning away from Australia in revulsion over its actions.

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