Climate change, as has been remarked before, is complicated. Far too complicated, in fact, for ordinary, everyday, busy, stupid people like you or me to fully understand.
That’s why we need others to do the heavy scientific lifting for us and impart the information we need in order to make up our minds. And so, rather than do all the research ourselves, poring over the raw data, making interminable observations all day, sitting around building computer models like a bunch of losers, we simply rely on a qualified community of climate scientists, palaeontologists, geologists, zoologists, psychologists, numerologists, journalists, authors on book tours, semi-senile letter-writers, well known actors, and perhaps most importantly, News Ltd opinion columnists, to give us the facts.
So much of the climate debate is about spin, about political expediency. Everywhere you hear Australians shouting, "I cannot trust politicians on this issue! Why is there not a reliable crazy English lord who can give me the straight dope?"
Coincidentally, this week saw a visit to Australia by Christopher Walter Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, or "C.Mo" as he is known to his fans.
Lord Monckton has been studying climate science for over 20 years — which in Viscount years is well over a century — and his qualifications are impeccable. To wit:
He has a diploma in Journalism Studies;
He is a qualified Day Skipper with the Royal Yachting Association;
He has an English accent;
He once invented a very difficult puzzle;
He is relatively conscientious about taking his medication.
Some may scoff at this, but he is at least as qualified as, say, Professor Tim Flannery whose only real credentials are a scraggly beard and a generalised hatred of mankind.
Lord Monckton’s message, which he has graciously brought to us for a very reasonable price, is that climate change is not happening. Compelling in its simplicity, isn’t it? If only the pro-global warming crowd could sum up their arguments so succinctly, they might be able to convince us all in the way Monckton has.
Unfortunately, they choose to deliberately crash their own satellites rather than give us the truth — luckily we have Lord Monckton to let us in on this. What else are they hiding? We already know that the IPCC lied to us, saying it had compelling scientific evidence of global warming, when actually its entire report was based on a short story about burping sheep from the Dandenong Library’s Teen Writers competition. We already know they lied by telling us carbon dioxide is a "pollutant" when actually it’s what trees eat.
How does Monckton know that climate change is not happening? Through mathematics, "the language of science". Basically, the climate scientists haven’t done their sums right. It’s the old, old story — you’re meticulous with your telescopes, take the greatest of care with your weather stations, but you forget to carry the eight, and suddenly you’re publishing papers with titles like "Catastrophic climate change imminent", rather than the more accurate "Science proves everything’s fine!" A similar thing happened with the theory of geocentrism, where for centuries the Catholic Church believed the earth revolved around the sun due to an inability to do long division.
Now, some people might call Lord Monckton a tad eccentric, seeking to slur him with words like "crazy", words like "insane", words like "brain-damaged", or "out of his frigging mind", or "utterly f-cking demented", or "mentally ill to the point of public danger" or "considered to be on the fringe even by Barnaby ‘Tassels’ Joyce", and other such smears but it would be well to remember that they called Galileo mad. They called Darwin mad. They called Lindsay Lohan mad. And who’s laughing now?
Bear in mind that back in the 1980s, we ignored Monckton when he warned us that we needed to quarantine all AIDS victims to prevent the spread of the disease. We didn’t, and look what happened — everyone has to wear stupid little ribbons and Freddie Mercury’s dead.
His visit to Australia is particularly timely as it coincided with the release this week of the Coalition’s climate policy, leader Tony Abbott pointing out that it will achieve everything the Government’s emissions trading scheme will, without any cost to the Australian public, except in the sense that they will have to pay for it.
Essentially, the Opposition policy boils down to an annual $1 billion fund to be accessed by businesses who take action to reduce their emissions. For example, an electricity generator who adopted low emissions technology would get some of the dosh, as would a farmer who planted lots of trees, or a company that switched its vehicle fleet to hybrids, or a cow who held it in a bit.
This is a classic example of the difference between the "carrot" and the "stick" approaches. Where Abbott seeks to mould industrial behaviour through a "carrot" of cash handouts, Rudd is looking to shape the actions of business through the "stick" of a price on carbon. It’s a bit like two different parents with varying views on child-rearing. The Opposition is the parent who says, "Eat your vegetables, and I will give you some ice cream"; whereas the Government is the parent who says, "Eat your vegetables or I will slam your head in the car door."
Both approaches have their pros and cons, and many people believe the best approach is a combination of carrot and stick — that a responsible government will fatten the child up and then bash its head in. Or, if we are assuming this is still a metaphor, offer incentives to lower emissions while also putting a price on carbon. But then, both Rudd and Abbott are all-or-nothing-type guys: it’s why they are known around Canberra as "the wild gunslingers of policy" because they don’t leave anything in the tank when it comes to devising mild solutions.
Rudd, naturally, seized upon Abbott’s plan and went immediately on the front foot, denouncing this "direct action" approach as a "climate con" and a "magic pudding" policy. This latter, indeed, looks to have become the Government’s catchphrase of choice on this issue and so we can look forward to many blissful months of hearing Labor politicians repeat the phrase "magic pudding policy" over and over and over and over and over and over until a) the election, or b) we start to decompose from the inside out. The two may in fact occur at the same time. In essence, "magic pudding policy" will be just like "working families", but better illustrated.
There is a danger in choosing such a catchphrase, of course, which is that it actually makes the Coalition policy sound pretty attractive. "Hmm," the average voter may start to think, "a climate change policy that magically renews itself, makes sarcastic quips, occasionally bursts into song? And you can eat it? Sounds pretty alright". Remember when Kim Beazley dubbed the GST a "Snugglepot and Cuddlepie tax reform", and Howard was re-elected on the tide of the "cute vote".
Naturally, what Rudd is actually trying to do is emphasise the negative side of a magic pudding policy, which is that it would constantly be trying to run away. "Vote for an ETS — it stays in one place": that’s the Labor slogan.
And at least it’s better than the Liberals’ own attack motto: "Great Big Tax"; which has developed to the point where it’s less a sound-bite than a kind of involuntary anatomical reaction to the stimulus of someone mentioning emissions trading. "Great Big Tax!" the Liberals scream, a look of frantic desperation in their eyes, like someone with their sleeve caught in the door of a moving train. "Help me," their eyes plead. "I can’t stop saying it … oh God here we go again!" And sure enough, a reporter will ask something like, "Do you then reject the school of thought that says market-based solutions to climate change are the most cost-efficient for society as a whole?" and the Liberal, swallowing frantically, will shriek, "Great Big Tax!" and everyone will have a hearty laugh.
But politicking aside, the good news is that no matter which policy prevails, we are guaranteed a whopping 5 per cent reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2020, which by my calculation is equivalent to taking 43 cars off the road for a year or suffocating John Singleton. Big cuts, anyway — the kind of cuts that will make the world really sit up and take notice and say, "Australia? Do they even have electricity down there?"
Five per cent! Just imagine that! Imagine the clean air, the sparkling seas, the resurgent glaciers, the thriving polar bears that will surround us in 2020 after that 5 per cent cut has been made! Relief is hardly the word! If ever there was a win-win situation, it was this, where we know that no matter who we vote for, there will be emissions reductions of a magnitude easily great enough to be described as "happening". The only choice we have to make is whether to go with Abbott’s costs-nothing policy, or Rudd’s costs-a-lot-but-we’ll-give-it-back-to-you plan.
And whichever way we leap, isn’t it great to know we have a genuine choice? Isn’t that what democracy is all about? Not the grey, vanilla pseudo-choice of Kevin Rudd vs Malcolm Turnbull, Kevin Rudd’s wingman. Not the depressing sameness of the last election, when Rudd actually went so far as to don a John Howard bodysuit and sneak into the Lodge to sleep with Janette during late parliamentary sittings. Finally, we can really engage in our system of government, with a clear and distinct choice between Labor and Liberal, Left and Right, carbon trading and direct action, savage, obscenity-filled tirades and disturbing, Abbott-filled swimwear.
Thank God for climate change for it has brought democracy back to the people.
Really, it’ll almost be worth the one-world government.
Donate To New Matilda
New Matilda is a small, independent media outlet. We survive through reader contributions, and never losing a lawsuit. If you got something from this article, giving something back helps us to continue speaking truth to power. Every little bit counts.