Words matter: a politician tells the truth

“The land we call our home, the land owned by this sweet funny brave people is being transformed, as is the rest of the planet. And yes, since the late eighties I have been an unapologetic believer in the grim reality that human activity is changing the earth’s climate.”

These words were spoken by the new Australian Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, in the course of his first speech to the Australian senate last week. I felt a twinge of envy as I tried to imagine a New Zealand Minister in any portfolio, let alone Foreign Affairs, speaking with such directness and entirely appropriate emphasis.  “Grim reality” is exactly the right description, and one from which, once uttered, there is no easy evasion.

Carr well understands the basic science of global warming and the history of its development, as is evident in a video clip of a lecture he gave in 2008 in which he called climate change deniers “the present danger”. In his Senate speech he also made clear that his concern includes the oceans:

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