Tony Abbott and his headless chooks: Environmental abusers

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Abbott and his cronies aren’t just climate deniers and skeptics — they're headless chickens pushing us all towards the precipice. Lyn Bender lists 30 acts of environmental vandalism by the Abbott Government so far.

Speaking in London in late January of this hot Australian summer, Prince Charles pronounced climate change deniers to be the “headless chicken brigade”.

In other words, those in denial are running around in circles, agitated, separated from any form of useful cognition and already doomed. Their hapless subjects, we in today’s Australia, are also doomed to pointless activity that will get us nowhere fast.

But the Abbott Government does not merely have its collective head in the sand about climate change — it is, in the words of our future monarch, “headless”.

Abbott and his team of self-avowed deniers have tried to shoot the messenger, but the message is still being delivered loudly and clearly.

The Climate Council (originally the Climate Commission) was axed by the Abbott Government in one of its first acts. But it rose from the ashes and has just delivered its latest report on the state of the climate in Australia.

Here in Australia, we have just experienced a very angry summer. We should be mad as hell and screaming that we are not going to take it any more, but largely we are going quietly to our terrible fate.

The Victorian Labour Day public holiday in Melbourne on Monday this week was a very warm 32° Celsius on what seemed a typical Melbourne summer’s day — except for the fact that it is actually early Autumn. Moomba festivities were in full swing by the green lush banks of the almost blue, usually brown, Yarra River. It was the kind of day to lie under a tree and read a novel. What better choice than one that will aid the imagining of a future life, in the ‘Anthropocene’ age — the age we are now living out?

A by-product of the industrial age will be an irrevocably changed planet earth. This has been dubbed the Anthropocene recently and the outlook is very bleak and catastrophic. If we continue on blithely destroying our atmosphere, climate and habitat, we are facing the prospect of a fundamentally unliveable planet.

Life in the Anthropocene is largely viewed ‒ by those who care to confront its reality ‒ as death in the Anthropocene.

Long story writ short: we will be extraordinary ‘lucky’ to, yet we are highly unlikely to, cap global warming to two degrees, by the middle of this century. Two degrees will not be a good look in any case. The respected Potsdam Institute forecasts significant sea level rise that would severely impact coastal communities and cities.

So, given all this horrible news, I decided to relax and recline in my tiny urban roof garden and read a fable of the future.

In her 1999 book, Mara and Dann, recently deceased Nobel Prize winning author Doris Lessing imagined life for humans, a few generations hence, in a dystopian world devastated by climate change.

In her future vision, life has become a nomadic search for food, shelter and for liveable land above the waters. The great cities are submerged and the knowledge of the enlightenment has largely been lost. Marshes and deserts abounded, while some rare lush ‘islands’ survive. But these too, are doomed eventually to sink beneath the encroaching waters.

The central characters ‒ General Dann, Griot, the snow dog and a child ‒ are caught between what they imagine of the past and the drive to survive. Life expectancy is now 40 or 50 years. Refugees overrun the world. In this environment, Lessing tries to imagine what would remain of love and attachment, kinship and loyalty.

In this world, with its endless wars, some attempt to understand and unravel the past. Perhaps the worst of it is that while many glimpse a world of past richness and abundance, no one seems to know how this world was squandered and lost through human folly.

As Lessing writes of us, the forebears, in her novel:

These were peoples who had no interest in the results of their actions. They killed out the animals. They poisoned the fish in the sea. They cut down forests, so that country after country, once forested, became desert or arid. They spoiled everything they touched. There was probably something wrong with their brains. There are many historians who believe that these ancients richly deserved the punishment of the (melted) Ice.’

But do the children of the third millennium deserve this punishment?

For this is what our headless chook brigade blindly strive to impose on our descendants. They have been working tirelessly to do this ‒ to destroy our environment ‒ since the day of their election.

It would be legitimate to say the environment is being ‘screwed’ by Abbotts and his henchman, the Environment Minister Greg Hunt. My thesaurus provides synonyms for ‘screwed’ as being — gipped, cheated, swindled, ripped off, bamboozled, conned, duped fooled and stiffed. In other words, the Abbott government has embarked upon, rape and pillage of the earth, where massive preservation and repair needs to be undertaken.

(Image via uknowispeaksense.wordpress.com)

These are but a few of the known, or declared, environmentally destructive acts, of the last six months.

  1. Discrediting of and intent to axe the price on carbon. The repeal has been passed in the lower house.
  2. Approval of Clive Palmer’s China First mine in the Galilee Basin.
  3. Approval for Gina Rinehart’s coal mine expansion in Galilee Basin.
  4. Approval of expansion of coal port at Abbott Point.
  5. Allowing dumping of dredged toxic material perilously close to Great Barrier Reef.
  6. Enabling shark killing in Western Australia by exempting WA from protected species legislation.
  7. Breaking an election promise to send a vessel to the Antarctic to monitor Japanese whalers.
  8. Approving grazing trial of cattle in Victorian Alpine National Parks despite flawed science supporting it.
  9. Appointment of out and proud climate skeptic/denier and former oil executive Dick Warburton to head a ‘review’ of renewable energy targets.
  10. Fast tracking of environmental approvals; that is cutting “green tape” and thereby jeopardising environment approvals.
  11. Attempts by the Coalition to dismantle the Climate Change Authority, which have recently ‒ thankfully ‒ been rejected in the Senate.
  12. Plans to formally apply to wind back heritage listing of Tasmanian Forests.
  13. Declaration by Tony Abbott that ‘we have too many locked up forests’ and National Parks.
  14. Denial of a link between wild fires and extreme heat, leading to the non-implementation of protective or adaptive responses.
  15. Failure to listen to the science of climate change regarding Queensland droughts so that no real adaptive action was taken.
  16. Abbott’s responding IMF head Christine Lagarde calling for the G20 to include climate change on its priorities as not wanting the “agenda to get too cluttered”.
  17. Ignoring report of CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology on state of Australia’s climate.
  18. Pointless and costly review of wind farming and its health issues, despite 20 previous investigations having cleared wind farming of any health concerns.
  19. Failure by Abbott to show concern about the health risks of coal despite the recent ongoing polluting coal fire at Morwell.
  20. Federal cuts to all environmental legal aid.
  21. Rephrasing and renaming ‘clean energy’ as dirty words, while cleansing dirty coal language.
  22. Mounting concerted attacks on renewables.
  23. Axing of COAG (Council of Australian Governments) Environment Ministers Forum after 41 years.
  24. Scrapping the Biodiversity Fund and Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
  25. Cutting $6.7 million funding to the: Caring for our Country Program.
  26. Abolition of the Low Carbon Communities Program.
  27. CSG approvals fast tracked despite concerns and evidence of the contamination of aquifers.
  28. Promotion of the sham of “Direct Action” on climate, which features financial  compensation/incentives to big polluters.
  29. Refusal to heed the Climate Authority about increasing emission reduction targets.
  30. Not having a science minister.

But the ultimate over-arching crimes of these headless chooks is their assault, denial and crusade against any meaningful action on climate change.

All of these measures are part of Abbott’s war upon mother earth.

The earth has been a mother to us all. She has provided and nurtured us with, an almost perfect environment, of arable lands, forests, air water, and ecosystems. These have evolved over millennia and we have adapted to this abundance. But now we are changing the atmosphere and these true fundamentals are being destroyed. Tracy Chapman’s song  Rape of the world speaks truly:

Mother of us all

Place of our birth

How can we stand aside

And watch the rape of the world

It is, indeed:

… the most heinous of crimes.

And Abbott is relishing his part. After all isn’t this ultimate misogyny: to attack our mother earth?

Follow Lyn Bender on Twitter@lynestel.

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John Graham's art is available for purchase by emailing editor@independentaustralia.net. See a gallery of John's political art on his Cartoons and Caricatures Facebook page.

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