I had just bought eight large silver balls for the new 2.3 metre (7ft for you who haven’t caught onto metric) Christmas tree when I heard Tim Flannery on the radio warning that we were doomed, again.
What struck me about this report, and all the discussion with climate change specialists and professors who teach this stuff, is the continual use of the word “we”.
Me. It’s me. It’s my fault.
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Psychiatry professor Patrick McGorry is an Australian of the Year who has made a difference.
After being awarded the honour in 2010, McGorry became one of the chief ambassadors of a campaign to get the federal government to reform the mental health sector. It paid off big time: In the 2011 federal budget $2.2 billion was invested in mental health reform.
Onya, Pat. Now McGorry’s saying the title he won shouldn’t just be awarded to someone who has done valuable work, but someone who wants to leverage the title’s power into continuing to change the world. He’s got a point.
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It’s official. The climate change dialogue is getting loopier. Maybe the weirdness has been been brought on by heat-stroke.
Yesterday’s Daily Telegraph reported that Tim Flannery and the Climate Commissions’s Professor Lesley Hughes warned that mental illness and all kinds of other maladies would increase with a few extra hot days. For those of us who believe the consequences of climate change could be catastrophic on a global scale, these kinds of statements are trivial to the point of public nuisance. They are like prank calls to 000.
So here’s the real news. Scientists don’t actually believe heatwaves will send us all mad. They’re just saying stuff like this because they’re desperately fumbling for new ways to grab the public’s attention. How do I know this? Because Tim Flannery himself told me (and a small room of other people) pretty much exactly that this very weekend.
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Every generation has its doomsday scenario. When my mother was studying for what she quaintly calls her “matriculation” in 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis broke out. She downed her pen in protest. What was the point of studying, she told her unimpressed immigrant parents, if nuclear war was about to break out?
By the end of that decade, concerns over nuclear bombs were defused by The Population Bomb, the explosive book by Stanford University Professor Paul Ehrlich which warned of mass starvation and all kinds of chaos due to over-population.
That threat waned too, at least in the public mind. As eventually did the Y2K bug, mad cow, mad bird, mad pig and mad everything else. And now, it seems, climate change is waning as a serious threat in the public estimation.
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The recent revelation that new Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery has a contract with Meat and Livestock Australia shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody who read his 2008 Quarterly Essay Now or Never: A sustainable future for Australia.
But I think both the relationship and the essay demonstrate that Flannery is not the right person for the job.
Flannery’s advocacy in Now or Never of abundant meat as the answer to global food problems is like suggesting private jets to solve transportation problems.
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