The other day I had the (mis)fortune of getting into a protracted conversation with an evangelical Christian friend about climate change. Walking to our cars’ from the train station after work, we innocuously stumbled into the conversation as we rattled on about the large storm that hit Sydney over the weekend just gone.
We both noted the intensity of the storm, our personal experience whilst it was happening, and the damage that was done. Then as an off-hand comment I stated that the “weather is going crazy these days, eh?” – more a rhetorical question than anything else. But also, deep down I was seeing if he would take the bait. You see, I wanted to know if he took the threat of climate change seriously. I remember this individual being a wiz in our science class back in high school, but I also knew his deeply-held religious convictions. What I wanted to test was my hunch that evangelical Christians don’t give a shit about climate change, or worse, they actively challenge the science.
You might have missed it the other day, but someone in our Parliament’s Question Time actually put two-and-two together and queried something that I thought was painstakingly obvious. Greens Senator Larissa Waters questioned whether our ‘mad monk’ Prime Minister Tony Abbott (and other Catholic ministers like him) should pay attention to their most holy of bae’s when the Pope says it’s their moral duty to act on climate change.
The response to her queries went a little like this:
– Firstly, nobody even attempted to answer her question
In the same week that Sydney was hit with the equivalent of a ‘category 2 cyclone‘ and a once-in-a-generation hailstorm, something else was happening over the other side of Australia. Powerful sections of society – the scholars, the political elites, the media and the corporate sector all weighed in to the debate over the funding of ‘climate contrarian’ Bjorn Lomborg’s climate ‘think tank’ at the University of Western Australia by the Australian government. All parties involved, unsurprisingly, had different views on the highly contentious matter. Despite the furore over the think tanks’ $4m price tag (juxtaposed against the slashing of science funding across the board) and the inconsistent message from the government as to who’s idea the whole thing really was, the main focus is just how seriously the Abbott government takes the threat of climate change (the answer: not very). According to James Hansen (a previous Director of NASA) the threat of climate change is so severe that the Earth might suffer what he calls the ‘Venus Syndrome‘. He describes it as an energy imbalance so great as to heat up the earth to something like Venus – which is too hot to sustain any form of life, at you know, about 400°C. For him, the end-game of climate change is potentially apocalyptic, rather than simply fucking disastrous – that’s if mankind proceeds to burn all available fossil fuels (which we’re on track to do). So if the threat is so bad, why aren’t we really doing anything about it? (more…)