Morrison now demands we 'adapt' to climate change catastrophes

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Scott Morrison claps along at the Horizon Pentecostal Church in Sydney on Easter Sunday 2019 (Screenshot via YouTube)

It should surprise no one that a man steeped deep in an apocalyptic cult should demand that everyone else act as if his reality is the norm, writes Dr Jennifer Wilson.

IT'S REMARKABLE that the least resilient, most non-adaptive Federal Government in living memory should now urge its citizens, in the face of horrific bushfires, to prove our resilience and adaptability by learning to put up with weather conditions that are hostile to human life.

It will, in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s view, take resilience to learn to adapt to whatever horrors nature has in store for us as a consequence of anthropogenic climate change.

It’s difficult to argue against this. It will indeed take a resilience – previously unheard of within humanity – to withstand record-breaking temperatures, prolonged drought and catastrophic weather events such as the fires, floods and cyclones we’re certain to experience if more is not done globally and urgently to reduce emissions. The question is, why demand this resilience as the way forward, instead of committing to undertake mitigation and prevention?

Morrison’s latest tactic is a textbook example of behaviour typical of an abuser — also known as "gaslighting". In order to continue the pattern of abuse that brings gratification of one kind or another, the abuser must convince the abused that they have to adapt to the abusive conditions. In order to perform that adaptation, the abused must develop the resilience both to withstand the abuse, and to live an outwardly normal life. The abused party must not give any indication of the dysfunctional nature of their circumstances because the abuser must be allowed to maintain the illusion of normality for the eyes of the outside world. Resilience and adaptation are essential to achieve these goals, as many survivors of abuse will confirm.

We – our Prime Minister insists – must perform the normality of his reality, even as our country burns and even as we suffer, directly or indirectly. In order to do this, we must adapt to that reality, and accept it as normal.

It should surprise no one that a man steeped deep in an apocalyptic cult should demand that everyone else act as if his reality is the norm.

When Morrison sanctimoniously lectures the populace on the necessity for nurturing the moral virtue of what he describes as resilience, what he’s actually demanding is our obsequious acquiescence to the status quo. Morrison does not wish to consider reducing emissions to the extent required to slow down global warming. Indeed, it’s reported that were he to even mention the idea in his party room, the place would "blow up".

A senior Coalition MP told The Australian:

“If we go back to talking about climate or targets or anything, the only climate that will change will be the climate in the partyroom. It’ll blow the place up." 

So much for Morrison’s resilience. He will not tinker with the status quo, no matter how destructive it is. He will demand that everyone else adapt to it, in order to save him — and his masters. This is not resilience. It’s cowardice.

By focusing on resilience, Morrison shifts the attention away from governmental responsibility for mitigation and prevention and onto individuals and communities, who will be measured by their capacity or otherwise to adapt to prevailing conditions. The PM’s ideologies, both Pentecostal and neoliberal, preach in the first instance the individual’s relationship with God and in the second, with capitalism.

The concepts of resilience and adaptation are inextricably entwined with both ideologies. Both reward individual success, the resilience required to triumph over hardship and the individual’s capacity to adapt to their ideological conditions of existence. The fault will not lie with the Morrison Government should things continue to go seriously pear-shaped because of extreme weather events. The fault will lie with citizens failing in their moral obligation to develop resilience and adapt.

For the PM, climate change is not the issue. Morrison has reframed the issue as an individual and community capacity, or lack thereof, to adapt to the conditions climate change fosters.

Or, to continue the analogy, the abuse is not the issue. The abused individual’s failure to develop the resilience to adapt to the abuse is now the issue. Morrison is demanding that we join him in his dysfunction and that our resilience and our adaptive talents be put to the task of achieving dysfunctional and destructive ends.

Both resilience and adaptation are admirable human qualities without which we could not survive. It is sickening to watch as these qualities are co-opted by the Federal Coalition Government in the pursuit of self-interest and at the expense of the country and the planet.

You can follow Dr Jennifer Wilson on her blog No Place for Sheep or on Twitter @NoPlaceForSheep.

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