Ten years ago today Clive Hamilton and Ian Lowe were at the Queensland Irish Club in Brisbane, as part of the launch publicity around Hamilton’s book ‘Scorcher: The Dirty Politics of Climate Change,’ in an effort “to thrash out fact from fiction in an effort to dispel the myths and embrace the realities of our changing climate.”
Scorcher is a good book (still worth reading), full of horrifying stories of complacency, stupidity and outright denialism. It was written at a time when it was hoped we could get smarter, could escape the mess we had made for ourselves. Now? Not so much…
The climate issue had broken out in late 2006. Until then a cabal of bureaucrats and trade association actors had,for about ten years, kept a tight rein on Australian climate change (and energy) policy. The key book on this is ‘High and Dry’ by Guy Pearse, who had done a PhD on the very subject. In early 2007, after the Howard Government had finally been forced to consider an emissions trading scheme (the ‘Shergold Report’), the State Governments of Australia (all Labor at the time) and the Federal Opposition (led by Kevin Rudd) asked high-profile economist Ross Garnaut to write a report about ‘what should be done’. Garnaut set to work, but by the time that Guy Pearse made this submission–
the sidelining of Garnaut – who didn’t think there was a justification for stuffing the pockets of generators and coal-miners with ‘compensation’ – was already underway…
Also on this day
On his 2GB program, Alan Jones, having berated Julia Gillard for being late to his studio less than a month before, continues in his fine form with these comments about Ross Garnaut.
“What do you make of this galoot Garnaut, the Federal Government’s climate change head-kicker?…‘The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence is telling us climate change is happening’ – well of course it’s happening, ha ha of course climate change is happening ya dunce, but is it being created by manmade carbon dioxide emissions? They don’t want to face that question. (Cited in Barry 2011a)
(Ward, 2015: 235)
On this day in 2006 the executive director of The Australia Institute, Clive Hamilton, delivered a blistering speech at the Hilton Hotel, in Adelaide. In it he named names, listing ‘The Dirty Dozen’ – the top 12 opponents of effective climate change action in Australia. . You can read it here. Since then the names have changed, but the tactics and arguments have largely stayed the same, with some necessary modifications….
As Liz Minchin reported –
Dr Hamilton had been thinking about making the allegations for months, and said he was not worried about being sued.
“I doubt that anyone I’ve named would want their involvement in this issue dragged through the courts,” he said.
See also Minchin, L. 2006. ‘Dirty dozen’ accused over fossil fuels. The Age, 21 February.
Also on this day-
In 1995, having defeated the proposal for a carbon tax/levy, the miners and their friends showed ministers what their voluntary measures would do. And so was born the ‘Greenhouse Challenge’…
2006 the excellent journo Rosslyn Beeby had a front page story at the Canberra Times
Beeby, R. 2006. CSIRO appointees drawn from oil, coal industries. Canberra Times, 21 February, p.1.
The Federal Government’s appointment of two new CSIRO board members with strong links to the coal and petroleum industries was ”a tragedy” for the national science organisation, Tasmanian Greens Senator Christine Milne said yesterday
The ABC investigative journalism programme Four Corners broadcast a hair-raising documentary on “Greenhouse Mafia,” the network of focussed and determined industry lobbyists who had taken over the policy advice system of the Howard government on climate and energy issues. This documentary was based on the extraordinarily good PhD thesis of Guy Pearse, whose ‘High and Dry’ should be compulsory reading, in my opinion. The programme also looked at what happened to CSIRO scientists who tried to do their job – of studying and explaining the impacts of climate change.
You can read the full transcript via here.
Also on this day–
1995 – Environment Minister John Faulkner announces on 2GB radio (Sydney) that the proposal for a carbon tax/levy is toast-
“I’ve indicated that it’s just not going to go forward…. As far as I’m concerned a greenhouse levy is off the agenda.”
Anon, 1995. Australia govt drops plans for carbon tax-minister. Reuters, 14 February.