Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
Scientists have been making fools of themselves for some time. Yet they seem to pay no price.
You can read the full version of the above 10-year-old news story on the website of Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper by clicking here. Disastrous global warming didn’t happen five years ago, in 2014. It isn’t happening today, either. Yet Penny Sackett continues to chair a Climate Change Council.
Does anyone else see a problem here? You can be dead wrong. I mean, really bleeping wrong. About something really important. And still get described, on a government website, as a champion of evidenced-based decision making.
In the universe Sackett inhabits, there are evidently no consequences to getting important things wrong. You merely jump from one government sinecure to another. A few years ago you were Australia’s chief scientist. Now you run the capital city’s climate council. Ho hum.
The claim, in that decade-old news story, about Australians being “among the world’s biggest producers of carbon dioxide” is rubbish. Australia isn’t even in the top 10 of highest-emitting nations. It emits less than 1.5% of the grand total. Just four countries – China, America, India, and Russia – are jointly responsible for more than 50%.
Even if you believe there’s a direct relationship between carbon dioxide and global warming (I personally think there’s serious evidence to the contrary), Australia’s total emissions don’t matter. They’re trivial.
That entire country could shut down tomorrow and it wouldn’t affect the big picture. Australia could crash its economy, health system, and educational infrastructure overnight. It could plunge its population into misery and deprivation. And the effect on the climate would be irrelevant. There would be extraordinary pain for absolutely no gain.
It’s only if you look at emissions per capita, that Australia makes it onto the top 10 list of baddies, at position #10. This is due to matters beyond the control of ordinary people: Australia’s vast land mass, its sparse population (25 million), and its abundant natural resources.
If you’re producing less than 1.5% of total global emissions, and your country’s entire population is smaller than some cities, it doesn’t matter how many sacrifices you make. They’re meaningless.
Only governments, politicians, and bureaucrats – people who live in fantasy land and never pay any professional price for behaving foolishly – could imagine otherwise.
UPDATE, 5 Dec. 2019: This post previously said, regarding Sackett: “Now you run Australia’s climate council.” My smart and witty colleague Tony Thomas, in Australia, has called my attention to the fact that this Council isn’t a national body, but a regional one. It’s part of the Australian Capital Territory government, which is responsible for Australia’s capital city, Canberra, and its surrounds. The text above has been edited accordingly.