When you see the trajectory of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions over the last decade or so, the pattern is a storyboard for the country’s political journey.
There was the ‘biggest moral challenge of our age’ in 2007 when a long period without emission reduction was obvious.
The carbon price that actually started to slow and then reverse emissions through the late 2000’s to the point that the country was tracking to meet its internationally agreed targets
Then the trashing of that ‘great big tax’ in 2014 to send the numbers upward again, and most recently, the apathy that has kept them climbing.
Here are the numbers as graphed.
The current numbers would have Australia with a cumulative failure to meet Paris commitments target by at least 40 million tCO2e a year or 7% of the annual emissions.
Not a good look. Arguably a renege.
It feels like right of centre governments can only understand graphs that project from bottom left to top right and so they create them, whatever the metric. And when it comes to emissions we have seen before how easy it is for them to have Lost the plot. So here we are with a government apparently unconcerned or oblivious to the combined facts that emissions are rising again, despite the growth in renewables, and the country is about to fail badly on an international commitment. Meantime the evidence continues to pile up that the planet is indeed warming and there are very tangible consequences for the people who live on it.
There are many Australians concerned about this tendency to abdicate on the issue of greenhouse gases. Even the medical profession who presumably have little interest in atmospheric physics are talking about the consequences of a warming world for health and safety.
So on the one hand there is evidence that denial has won and policies that do little and still question that there is even a climate problem, have won out, notwithstanding the rhetoric from podiums.
On the other, there is a growing sense of urgency that the problem is not only real but is with us in our daily lives, affecting our health and wellbeing.
This schizophrenic state is confusing to the majority of people, who, let’s face it, are not thinking much beyond their next Maccas or chai latte. And the handful of folk with part of an eye peering up from their screens toward the periphery of their personal bubble, don’t think with numbers.
So the coolaid speeches easily distract them.
Coolaid, the product of a tendency to spout excessive praise so as to massage the egos of anyone close enough to hear and in doing so ignore or deny any negativity
It is much easier to drink in the rhetoric than to question it. Especially as all the subtext is aimed at making you feel safe and eager to spend your money. Why else would you “vote for me”.
Instead the majority are able to ignore the reality of the numbers and the specifics that happen every day, even as we watch streaming shows like Homeland, The Handmaids Tale, and, ever so gently, Designated Survivor, that try to show us what is around the next corner.
It is actually rather sad. The human condition is so prone to being duped that almost anyone can do it. We can even believe the real housewives.
Unfortunately, sadness is an emotional blink from despair.