How I wish you were here.
This was the sentiment expressed by many Australians in December as our Prime Minister Scott Morrison holidayed in Hawaii while vast swathes of the country were consumed by flames.
The ravaged landscape left behind is littered with blackened trees and the carcasses of animals. One billion dead animals by some estimates. Thousands have lost their homes and scores have died.
While the fires continue to rage, the debate over climate change rages too, but not in the corridors of power. Here it’s business as usual as spin doctors attempt to come up with a message to convey the impression the government is listening to people’s increasingly desperate concerns, while committing to doing nothing at all.
Morrison made the government’s stance very clear recently when he told Sky News that ‘hazard reduction’ is the key to managing climate change-induced infernos:
‘Hazard reduction is as important as emissions reduction. Many would argue even more so, because it has a direct practical impact on the safety of a person going into a bushfire season.’
This is wilful, brazen stupidity at its finest. Anyone labouring under the illusion this government can be pressured into taking action over climate change should be psychologically evaluated.
The only thing Morrison and his ilk will do is find a way to profit from the devastation by further weakening environmental protections in the name of ‘safety.’ There are already rumblings that expanding hazard reduction will give the forestry industry access to protected areas.
This isn’t to say that hazard reduction has no place. The original inhabitants of this land have been doing this for tens of thousands of years, and there’s evidence properties which use ‘cultural’ burn methods are better protected. But hazard reduction is a very small part of any realistic plan to address climate change. To suggest it’s on par with emissions reductions reveals the governments true intentions.
Now that it’s becoming nigh on impossible to deny that climate change is a thing, the plan of ‘Scotty from marketing’ (as Morrison is unaffectionately known in Australia) and his fellow fossil-fuel enthusiasts is to focus on minimising its impact through helping people ‘adapt.’ What this really means is that the fossil fuel industry has the greenlight to carry on unimpeded.
One of the reasons Morrison can so blithely ignore the smoke-filled skies and charred evidence on his doorstep is due to his religious beliefs. As a Pentecostal Christian, he is 100% certain he can tell heaven from hell, and that whatever he believes in must be God’s will. The skies are always blue and free from pain in his Pentecostal bubble.
These are the ghosts we traded our heroes for, and the reason, this summer in Australia we have hot ashes instead of trees, hot air for a cool breeze, cold comfort for change.
Did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a leading role in a cage?
And now here we are, like fish in a bowl, going over the same old ground, listening to the same pointless ‘debates’ while the same people do all they can to prevent meaningful change. But unlike goldfish, we don’t forget.
How I wish you were here.