It's Time To Fight Global Yawning


So it looks like climate change is in the news again. Well, isn’t that a novelty. This must be the most exciting time in Australian politics, since the last time climate change was in the news, which I’m pretty sure was, like, last week, and the week before that, and oh my god pretty much every week since forever.

Of course, on this occasion climate change is a “hot topic” (it’s a pun) because of Kevin Rudd’s decision to bring forward by one year the date on which Julia Gillard’s carbon tax, which you probably remember as the reason we don’t have an economy anymore and most of us are dead, becomes an emissions trading scheme, which you’ll probably remember as the thing that Labor MPs like to use as an example when for some reason they want to stand up in parliament and tell everyone how great John Howard was.

And of course this is a massive development, because it means that the Opposition’s attacks on the carbon tax have been blunted, except that they haven’t: Tony Abbott hasn’t stopped bitching about the tax, it’s just that his bitching has become less coherent. And it’s also a massive development because it means Christine Milne has something to complain about, which should make her happy, if that’s even possible.

Maybe I sound a little cynical, or aggressive, but if so it is because I am being driven to distraction by the fact that climate change seems to be constantly discussed, but what is never discussed is the elephant in the room of the issue. And in the case of climate, it’s a very big elephant, and it’s a very small room. It’s more like an elephant in a crate. And that elephant is this:

Climate change is boring.

OK? It’s out there now, let’s all just admit it. Climate change is a boring, boring subject, and it doesn’t matter how Tim Flannery trims his beard, it’s never going to be not boring.

What’s more, it’s one of those subjects that gets more boring the more you learn about it. It’s not like history, where it just seems boring on the surface but then you find out about all the sex and disembowelling: in climate change there is no sex and no disembowelling. And so at first you’re like, “Oh climate change, that sounds dull”, and then you start reading up on radiative forcing and parts per million and feedback mechanisms and you realise that when you said it was dull you were making an understatement of a magnitude roughly equivalent to saying “Simon Crean lacks charisma”. It would be unfair to say that climate change is as boring as watching paint dry. It’s more like watching paint host “Inside Business”.

OK, I hear you say: so climate change is boring. That doesn’t mean it’s not important, does it? I mean, we have to deal with the big issues, even if they are boring or annoying or make us want to drown ourselves. We can’t just flip the bird to the planet and tell it to stick the Great Barrier Reef up its arse because we find the subject matter a little dry, can we? As citizens of this earth, and custodians of our species’ future, we can’t devote our time only to the things that interest us, surely?

Well, here’s the thing: yes we can. In fact, we have a duty to.

You see, I don’t know how it works in whatever godforsaken hellhole you lived in before you destroyed your papers and came here to vote Labor, but here in Australia we have a thing called “democracy”. And that word democracy comes from the Greek: “demos” meaning “people”; and “cracy” meaning “can do what they like”. In a democracy, the people rule. Society is to be governed according to their desires. And what people desire more than anything else is to not be bored.

The people are sick of climate change. They’re sick of the lectures, they’re sick of the warnings. They’re sick of being told to turn off their lights and install solar panels and stop filling their houses with black balloons. It’s a tedious life, forever worrying about the climate. It sucks all the joy out of existence. And last time I checked, the Constitution specified that existence has to have some joy in it. That’s the law.

The point is, a government has no right to force its citizens to think about an issue against their will, and it certainly has no right to force them to do anything about it. A government that imposes an issue on the nation, even when the nation finds it extremely boring, is a dictatorship. Yes I said it. It’s time more of us said it. This government is engaging in the fascism of boredom and we need to speak up before our right to entertaining stimuli is eroded altogether.

In practical terms, this means: no more climate change debate, no more climate change legislation, no more attempts to educate the public or encourage collective action to ameliorate the effects of global warming. Instead we will focus on debating more interesting, colourful issues, like same-sex marriage, unlicensed sex workers, and Mel Doyle; and we will concentrate on legislation on more compelling matters, like the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia and/or human organ trafficking.

Oh, say the hand-wringers and the soppy wet bleeding kidney hipsters, but the environment. If we keep ignoring it, it may be damaged forever. The environment won’t stop being degraded, claim these insufferable squawkers, just because we decided to stop worrying about it.

Won’t it? This is a democracy, remember? Are you saying that our democracy is NOT important enough to take precedence? Are you saying that the environment can OVERRIDE democratic principles? Are you saying that the planet earth is going to VIOLATE our Constitution in its sad, desperate bid for attention?

Well well well. So the Greens admit it: the environment is anti-democracy. And it’s when we discover that nature is actively working to undermine the foundations of our freedom that ignoring climate change becomes more than just a choice: it becomes a duty.

Say no to boredom. Say no to totalitarianism. Say yes to democracy. Say yes to fun. And most importantly, shut up about climate change, from now till forever.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.