In light of Charles Chauvel’s parliamentary question — brought to our attention yesterday in a comment — I thought I should buy a copy of Investigate magazine (against the grain though it goes) and have a look at the John Key interview.Â
Investigate‘s question, was, as might be expected, heavily loaded, talking about the “fast becoming…open revolt in the scientific community about whether humans are contributing significantly to global warming at all,” and asking what care is being taken “to ensure that climate change theory is accurate and how New Zealand is going to be affected if it is wrong?”
Key’s reply settles on “flexibility built into the system so that if the science either firms up considerably more or deteriorates, and the climate change sceptics are right, we have an ability to alter the impact on our economy.”Â
He continues the having it both ways theme by adding that it would be irresponsible of us not to play our part when it comes to climate change but we should also not be prepared to “completely sacrifice our economy” in the name of climate change when other countries are just not prepared to do that.Â He finally refers to Australia as having said they are willing to support a 5% reduction in Copenhagen for Annex one countries when people have been talking about a reduction of 25 to 40%.Â He doesn’t say whether he regards Australia as a reliable guide in the respect or as a delinquent trying to escape the rules by which every one else has to live.
It may sound reasonable, but it doesn’t make sense in the light of the science.Â What does he mean by the science firming up considerably more?Â Does he think it is tentative and unsure in its basic thrust?Â Is the problem for him that its warnings are of necessity predictive?Â Does he think we should wait until Greenland has shed enough ice into the sea to raise sea level by a metre or two?Â Until the Himalayan glaciers have disappeared completely and hundreds of millions are suffering the consequences?Â
I assume that in fact he has little idea of the science himself and instead of enquiring of the appropriate people he falls back on the notion that it may all be a big fuss about nothing.Â Not siding with the so-called sceptics, but making a big allowance for the possibility of their being right. Which is about all the organised denialist industry is seeking at this stage.Â
The complete sacrifice of our economy is a myth propagated by those who have a vested interest in business as usual.Â (Or think they have a vested interest in it – their children and grandchildren will suffer its consequences along with everyone else’s, but they don’t seem to find time to contemplate that.)Â Decarbonising an economy does not mean sacrificing it. It is deeply disappointing to hear Key suggesting that it does.Â Admittedly we need the world to move in concert on this, but some things can already be done without serious harm, and countries which get things under way are in a stronger position to lobby the international forums for adequate reduction targets.Â The Australian government’s response at this stage is risible and one hopes Key wasn’t suggesting we should be guided by them. Â
Political leaders who juggle science and denial are not taking science seriously.Â In the case of anthropogenic global warming the science matters deeply for the human future.Â John Key should have replied to Investigate that there is no revolt in the scientific community and that the NZ government’s policies will be determined at very least by the findings of the IPCC, with the recognition that some of those findings are already being revealed as too conservative.