Australia in desperate need of science – but Tony Abbott is gutting it

Grandees such as John Howard and Cardinal George Pell parade cynical climate denialism before international audiences, putting more peer pressure on the current incumbents to toe that line and providing rare insight into the widespread denialist groupthink within conservative ranks.

Literally and figuratively, we are witnessing a “burning of the science books”, the like of which has not been seen since medieval times.  It did not work for the Catholic Church in the days of Copernicus and Galileo, nor in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.  It will not work today.

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmTony Abbott is gutting science just when we need it most, SMH, Ian Dunlop, June 1, 2014 Australia has an enviable reputation for scientific research, extending long before the heyday of the CSIRO in the 1950s under the visionary leadership of Sir Robert Menzies and Sir Ian Clunies-Ross. On the hottest and driest continent on Earth, our prosperity would be non-existent had it not been for the enlightened application of science. So it has been of mounting concern over recent years to see governments of all persuasions adopt increasingly anti-science agendas.

The federal government is taking anti-science to new heights. Its scorched earth approach discards virtually everything not in line with narrow, free-market ideology, centred on sustaining Australia’s 20th century dig-it-up and ship-it-out economic growth model.  

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s supposedly visionary address to the World Economic Forum in Davos last January, outlined this agenda. Free-markets create prosperity, but their full costs have only become apparent in recent years. Over the past two decades, those costs have negated the benefits – we are actually getting poorer not wealthier. The PM’s “vision” ignored such costs, along with the disastrous outcomes that the short-termism, inequity and corruption of free-markets delivers, witness the 2008 global financial crisis, and the Independent Commission Against Corruption closer to home. Markets are important but they must operate within sensible rules and continual vested-interest lobbying has got rid of those rules.

Official orthodoxy decrees that conventional economic growth take precedence over all else, without understanding that such growth is no longer possible………

Science has disappeared from the government’s priorities just at the time we need it most.

Greg Hunt’s Direct Action white paper has no scientific and economic grounding at all, whether from our own Institutions, the IPCC, the Garnaut and Stern climate change reviews or numerous other global bodies such as the World Bank, IMF and the OECD.  It is the climate policy you have when you don’t want a policy.

The work of the former Climate Commission, providing independent, objective explanation of the climate science, has been archived away from public view. Scientific illiterates have been appointed to key climate and business policy advisory positions. The budget has gutted science funding in general, further emasculated the wholly inadequate Direct Action policy and rendered the CSIRO impotent. ………

Grandees such as John Howard and Cardinal George Pell parade cynical climate denialism before international audiences, putting more peer pressure on the current incumbents to toe that line and providing rare insight into the widespread denialist groupthink within conservative ranks.

Literally and figuratively, we are witnessing a “burning of the science books”, the like of which has not been seen since medieval times.  It did not work for the Catholic Church in the days of Copernicus and Galileo, nor in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.  It will not work today.

Ian Dunlop was formerly an international oil, gas and coal industry executive, chair of the Australian Coal Association and chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He is a member of the Club of Rome.

[5] The Lucky Country: Australia in the Sixties, Chapter 9, Donald Horne, 1964: http://www.penguin.com.au/products/9780143180029/lucky-country

http://www.smh.com.au/comment/tony-abbott-is-gutting-science-just-when-we-need-it-most-20140601-zru3j.html#ixzz33WgNL74j

 

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