"Don't talk about Politics"

At a family BBQ last weekend the conversation tentatively moved to politics. There were a few assertions about how deceptive various politicians were, but the conversation quickly moved to safer ground.

Some cultures talk a lot about politics, but Australians tend not to - it’s seen as a private matter and not good BBQ-time conversation.

But with an election around the corner, I’m going to break that taboo! I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, but I would suggest that climate change needs to be front and centre as we decide who’ll get our vote this Saturday. If climate matters to you, see this scorecard for the major Parties, put together by the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Why? Because climate change is, in ARRCC’s view, the biggest issue of our generation. If we continue with ‘business as usual’, being so dependent on fossil fuels and animal agriculture, and we continue with the current moderate (or no) levels of intervention, climate change is likely to:-

  • Increase the frequency and severity of heatwaves, storms, droughts and floods. (IPCC, 2018, here);
  • Cause the Great Barrier Reef (and most other coral reefs) to die. (Attenborough, D. 2016, here);
  • Lead to 500 million refugees by 2100 - losing their homes to rising sea levels. (Leutz, J. 2013, here);
  • Cause world food production to decrease by 2080. (Cline, W. 2007 here);
  • Lead to a huge number of species becoming extinct. (Drake, N. 2015, here).

These effects are, to some degree, already ‘locked in’, but with bold action to reduce our use of fossil fuels and animal agriculture over the next decade, we can significantly minimise these effects and make life considerable better than it might be for the next generation.

So where do the major parties stand on climate change? It’s difficult to know sometimes, because if politicians sense that an issue is important to us (as they are sensing with climate change), many will say what they need to, to get our vote. But what are their actual policies? The respected environmental group, Australian Conservation Foundation (www.acf.org.au) assessed the major political parties recently with a comprehensive survey. Compiling their results, the ACF came up with the following assessment of the three major parties’ track record (source here).

This is indeed stark. For those of us who are sceptical of such assessments, you might like to look at the details of the ACF’s questions, scores and sources here to see that this was no cursory exercise. It is serious analysis.

And some folk will no doubt point to other policies of the various parties on the economy, security, or refugees that they either like, or don’t like. But in this particular election, at this time in history, I’d invite all of us to ask the question: “Is there a more important issue in the world today than combating climate change?” 

But I’m not going to tell you who to vote for. You make your own call!