Climate change and political leadership

Even though the media, I guess in an attempt to present “balanced reporting”, gives high prominence to climate deniers, there is a very strong consensus in the scientific community that climate change needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. A small group of deniers are given disproportionate exposure so it appears as if there is more debate than there is in the science field. (There is certainly scientific debate about climate change, but not in terms of whether or not it is real and needs to be addressed immediately.)  We no longer expect the media to provide “balanced reporting” by providing an alternative view when saying the world is flat or that smoking harms the health. (As an aside it is interesting to see how many prominent climate deniers were previously associated with the battle to counter the scientific evidence that smoking is harmful. You can read more from the Guardian here.)

In the face of the disinformation circulated about climate change we are in desperate need of strong political leadership. Unfortunately there is little evidence that we are receiving it. The ALP has finally decided to introduce a carbon tax after clearly receiving a mandate to act on climate change, Kevin Rudd abandoned his commitments and this appears to have led to his demise. Julia Gillard foolishly committed to no carbon tax, but has since change her mind again.

On the other side, John Howard refused to take the issue seriously, Malcolm Turnbull took a strong stand (but was too progressive for his party) and Tony Abbott appears to see it as nothing more than a political football.

Watching both sides trying to score political points is sickening. We need bipartisan leadership and we are getting school yard fights.  For a while we appeared to have strong community support for action (or support was at least developing) but it has been whittle away by misinformation, lack of leadership and concerted campaigning. I can only hope that our leaders (both political and media) will come to their senses and start taking climate change seriously. For now, I guess we will have to rely on people power.

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), environmentalist, Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace & sustainability.
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