Yesterday, a number of my friends and I went to the Rally for Climate Action at Belmore Park. It was a great event with some good speakers, in-particular Simon Sheikh from Get-Up.
I was however very disappointed there were no ALP representatives there. This is, after all, their policy that they are trying to sell and they should have representatives ready to speak to a crowd of supporters. It may be because they are scared of being labelled hypocrites by the Coalition if there are extreme leftists holding up anti-Abbott placards. Or it could be because the ALP are the party of Government, and in the eyes of some who would have been in attendance, they have made some questionable decisions regarding asylum seekers, banking, etc. etc. so there is always the prospect of anti-Government feeling, which would then become the story.
But within that audience, there was a good deal of respect for the Government for launching a pragmatic environmental policy that has led to negativity and even attacks from some on the right-wing. Essentially, the left is displaying our martyr worship again.
Anyway, below is an incredibly short video, just to show the size of the crowd.
38 degrees has done it and now Get Up has apparently done it. The online campaigning by 38 Degrees has led to the Tory led Coalition in the UK overturning its decision to sell off hundreds of thousands of acres of public owned forest. Lots has already been written about the campaign and you can see a good overview here at Tom Baker’s blog.
But here in Australia, Get Up has had a similar win, or so it claims. The ALP Government has been lobbying the independents to pass its Flood Levy, however the Government’s other cuts, including cuts to education and green energy programmes have been sticking points. Obviously, these were always designed to be negotiation points, but after reinstating a number of the programmes in response to independent and Green demands, the Levy Bill passed the lower house and will probably get though the Senate. Get Up has taken a lot of credit for this, they got enough donations for a full-page ad in one of our leading papers, as well gaining 31,000 signatures in a week. That is all very impressive granted. However, when I say they are taking a lot of credit, I mean they are taking a lot of credit. No doubt a significant amount is internal PR, but I don’t they can take the credit that the 38 Degrees can take for getting the forestry bill overturned.
Get Up was praised by Greens Senate Leader Bob Brown and the Independents for their tireless work, although, this was at a Get Up press conference.
However, my point isn’t that Get Up isn’t a hard-working, succesful and worthy organisation, I just think 38 Degrees has pulled off something far more significant as a result of their actions. There were marches in the streets and petitions of over 500,000 people. At the same time though, even 38 Degrees’ success isn’t all thanks to them. They also have an increasingly popular opposition on their side. and I think it was an issue the Tories were willing to hand over so they could convince the public that they were reasonable people.
Also, there is still the NHS fight to be fought. That result will truly show the strength of the progressive grassroots campaigners.
After the debacle that was Copenhagen, the stalling of vital emissions trading bills in both the US and Australia, the IPCC chaos, climate gate and the public’s cooling towards the man made climate change argument, there is plenty of sceptically suddenly appearing in regards to climate change.
On top of that, the UK, the USA and parts of Asia have had record low temperatures and record cold-snaps. This is has inevitably led to further questions about global warming. The answer to that question is two fold. Firstly, scientists have always suggested that climate change does what it says on the tin, changes climate. That includes record cold as well as record hot. Rush Limbaugh has been caught out stating that the record snows in the US North East are proof that climate change is bunk.
The table below from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the scientific arm of the US Department of Commerce shows the second answer to the question of “what global warming?” According to this info, Russia, the US North East and Northern Europe and the UK have had significantly below average temperatures, but clearly, the surface temperature almost everywhere else has suffered from significant above average heat. In fact from the data underneath the image shows that January was the 4th warmest January on record.
Basically, it shows that people such as Limbaugh have an incredibly localised viewpoint. While that is no surprise for people of his ilk, it is important that Governments highlight this to the wider population. Just because it is cold here, doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be abnormally hot somewhere else. Australia had record setting temperatures over the summer and it doesn’t take much to turn on the television and watch all of the warm weather that is severely hampering the Vancouver Winter Olympics at the moment.
The data below comes from a BBC poll into the public perception of the causes of climate change. This was published on the 5th of February and has had reasonably extensive coverage, but what is extremely troubling is that it similar to a trend seen in Australia.
The BBC data shows a huge increase in the amount of confusion about the cause of climate change and this probably has a lot to do with the mess the IPCC seems to find itself in and the debacle of the leaked climate change emails.
This is a quote from Dennis Shanahan in the Australian Newspaper today, which shows that there is some scepticism occuring quickly in Australia also;
There has also been a fall in the percentage of people who believe in climate change. In July 2008, 84 per cent of those surveyed believed climate change was happening and only 12 per cent did not believe it existed at all. Last weekend, the number who believed climate change existed had dropped to 73 per cent, down 11 points, and those who did not believe in it rose 10 points to 22 per cent.
This is overall pretty worrying. Two nations who need to lower its carbon emissions will soon have governments running very low on political capital on the issue.