The Australian bushfires are a clear warning of the very dangerous future that lies ahead of us, if we don't act decisively against climate change and if we don't act decisively now.
AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER Scott Morrison won't be voted 'Mr Empathy 2020'. With Australia burning and leadership desperately needed, Morrison was holidaying in Hawaii with his family. While Australia was burning, Scott Morrison was at a New Years Eve Party, enjoying a few beers. And, at a press conference, Scott Morrison told the victims of the bushfires to be 'calm and patient'. Its little wonder that he was told he was not welcome when he tried to go walkabout in the devastated New South Wales township of Cobargo. 'You won't be getting any votes down here, buddy. No Liberal [party] votes - you're out, son.' one angry resident shouted at him.
But Morrison's conspicuous lack of empathy is not the real problem and those who claim that Australia need someone like Jacinda Ardern to turn things around, are missing the point.
While the bushfires have raged on, Morrison has continued to downplay the impact of climate change. Morrison is, at best, a climate change sceptic and he has been backed by a cabal of climate change deniers in the Australian corporate media. Sky News Australia has been particularly prominent in trying not to talk about climate change. One of its pundits, climate change denier Chris Smith, has even suggested that all the talk about climate change is just an attempt by Morrison's political opponents to attack the Prime Minister. 'We have never seen a natural disaster so horribly and unfairly politicised' he tubthumped.
The climate change deniers in the Australian media have joined with representatives of the Australian political establishment in the attempts to deny the impact of climate change. In November New South Wales Liberal premier Gladys Berejiklian said that she thought it was 'inappropriate that people were trying to talk about climate change yesterday when people wanted to stay alive'. National Party leader Michael McCormack said that warnings abut climate change were 'the ravings of woke capital-city greenies'. You can easily imagine climate change deniers like Magic Talk's Peter Williams or Sean Plunket using similar language in this country.
Even with fires licking at the edges of Sydney, Morrison has continued to put the interests of the capitalist economy first. He won't change his government's climate change policies because he fears it will impact on an economic model that puts growth and profit above all else, even the interests of the environment. He told ABC News that "What we won't do is engage in reckless and job-destroying and economy-crunching [green] targets which are being sought".
In November Morrison threatened to outlaw boycotts aimed at Australia's fossil fuel industry. He told the Queensland Resource Council that “We are working to identify mechanisms that can successfully outlaw these indulgent and selfish practices that threaten the livelihoods of fellow Australians.'
|Scott Morrison: Having a beer on New Years Eve as Australia burns.|
In other words, the government of Scott Morrison is not only going to do nothing more in the fight against global temperature rises, he has every intention to make life easier for the fossil fuel industry by trying to suppress climate activism.
The evidence overwhelming tells us that our economic system is the main driver of environmental destruction. But what Morrison is telling us is that, regardless of the destruction, the interests of our planet remain subservient to the interests of capitalism. This is in the face of uncontestable facts that nine of Australia’s 10 hottest recorded years have occurred since 2005 and that the length of the fire weather season increased by nearly 19 percent between 1979 and 2013.
In December Greta Thunberg, reacting to the bushfires, tweeted: 'Not even catastrophes like these seem to bring any political action. How is this possible? Because we still fail to make the connection between the climate crisis and increased extreme weather events and natural disasters like the Australian fires. That has to change. Now.'
There can be no tinkering with the very economic system that is destroying the planet. We either destroy capitalism or it will destroy us. The third way, the so-called 'green capitalism' of people like that of the corporate-friendly Climate Change Minister James Shaw, is a dangerous fantasy. We must build a more humane economy before its too late. Let the Australian bushfires be a clear warning of the very dangerous future that lies ahead of us if we don't act decisively and if we don't act decisively now. In New Zealand's case, supposed carbon neutrality by 2050 is a woefully inadequate response to the dangers that we now confront.