Prime minister Scott Morrison has deepened the connection between his climate change rhetoric and that of climate deniers by urging kids, and the striking school students to effectively adopt the mantra from the old song, “Don’t worry, be happy”.
Morrison’s comments came as right wing shock jock Alan Jones, and others, and even US president Donald Trump, launched extraordinary attacks against the 16-year-old Swedish school student Greta Thunberg after her galvanising speech in front of world leaders at the UN climate summit in New York this week.
“I do understand that people feel strongly about this, but I think we also have to take stock, we have to ensure we get a proper context and perspective,” Morrison told journalists accompanying him on his week-long trip to the US.
“I want children growing up in Australia to feel positive about their future, and I think it is important we give them that confidence that they will not only have a wonderful country and pristine environment to live in, that they will also have an economy to live in as well. I don’t want our children to have anxieties about these issues.”
Morrison also told reporters he was urging his two daughters to look at both sides of the climate change debate, and the science behind it. “I don’t allow them to be basically contorted into one particular view,” he said.
And, he noted – echoing the views of the Pentecostal church to which he belongs – that “the world was fully capable of solving vexed problems and responding to existential threats.” The only problem is that the Australian government has hitherto refused to take the advice of scientists and other experts, and lift its weak Paris targets.
It doesn’t even have a policy in place to meet those targets it has signed up to, and emissions are rising rather than falling, and, after a period of record investment in wind and solar through a policy (the renewable energy target) that the Coalition government tried to kill, there are no further long-term plans.
Morrison’s comments also show that his government remains in lock-step with the extreme right-wing commentary being channelled through Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News in the US and Sky News in Australia.
Trump drew an angry response with a sarcastic Tweet that claimed that Thunberg had nothing to worry about. “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”
Just to remind readers, this is not just a game-show host, but the US president and the supposed leader of the free world.
Online, and on air, it was even worse. Extreme far right commentators – including Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt – launched extraordinary attacks against Thunberg, and Jones also insisted that children should not worry about climate hoaxes, but just be happy. Fox News in the US called her a “mentally ill Swedish child.”
Bolt labelled Thunberg’s speech as “madness, applauded by hysterics”, and compared support for her to “child abuse”. He then went on to describe Thunberg as depressed, extremely anxious, and very unhappy.
And Australia’s prime minister, leading a Coalition that has similar views on climate change, has adopted the same line.
Meanwhile, coal loving backbencher George Christensen showed his class with this post on Facebook.
just quietly, i can’t wait for this era to be behind us. pic.twitter.com/XDbRWRDcVP
— ????simon holmes à court (@simonahac) September 24, 2019
As renewable energy advocate Simon Holmes à Court noted. It will be great when this era is over. But when?