T.Former Prime Minister John Howard remains a senior conservative statesman, so when asked on prime-time television if he doubts climate change is happening, his answer is revealing.
That moment happened Tuesday night on ABC during an interview with actor David Wenham, who asked, “Aren’t you disputing the fact that there is climate change?”
Given the decades of scientific investigation into the subject, the most obvious answer to this question would have been a firm and declarative “no”.
But instead, Howard offered this.
“Well … well … I think some aspects of the debate have gotten very over the top,” he said. “Whenever there is any kind of disaster it is always due to climate change. In some cases it is right and in others it is not right ”.
Howard didn’t say what disasters he was referring to, but the freshest ones on Australians’ minds are the devastating east coast floods and the horrors of the black summer bushfires.
Climate scientists prefer to conduct studies to carefully attribute the role of increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to natural disasters. It is not a simple task.
Studies on those 2019/2020 forest fires showed that climate change increased the risk of those fires occurring and their severity (which according to an assessment killed or displaced about 3 billion animals).
Professor David Karoly, one of Australia’s leading climate scientists, said the devastating floods earlier this year were an example of how burning fossil fuels put the climate system “on steroids” and amplified rainfall. .
Burning fossil fuels and clearing forests loaded the atmosphere with 50% more carbon dioxide than before the industrial revolution.
Some climate scientists will point out that by changing the composition of the atmosphere so fundamentally and adding heat to the ocean, the influence of the climate crisis on all times is now inevitable.
Even without details, Howard’s position tells us a lot about his understanding of science, his consideration for the risks of global warming, and how he wants to frame the problem.
During the interview, Howard made a philosophical point about the state of political discourse saying that there was “too much obsession with identity politics and single issues like climate change”.
Expressing skepticism about the causes of climate change, its impacts or the reasons behind calls to action has become part of the political identity of many conservatives, particularly in the United States and Australia.
Howard was trying to pin the “identity politics” label on progressives.
But continuing to express skepticism about climate change only seconds later shows how critics of “identity politics” like Howard can still engage in it.
The IPCC’s hidden agenda?
Howard’s public stance on climate change has changed over the years.
In late 2006 and under political pressure ahead of the elections, he claimed he was not a climate science denier and cited scientific evidence that the increase in greenhouse gas levels was “significant and harmful.”
But in a speech in London in 2013 to a contrarian climate think tank, he said he had always been “agnostic” on the issue which, given the overwhelming evidence gathered over many decades, is a bit like saying you are gravity agnostic.
During that 2013 speech, Howard quoted Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, one of the lead authors of a United Nations climate assessment at the time.
“We must free ourselves from the illusion that international climate policy is an environmental policy,” Howard said, quoting Edenhofer. “This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.”
Revealing his “real agenda”, Howard said Edenhofer went on to say: “It must be clearly stated that we are de facto redistributing world wealth through climate policy.”
This quote has been used over and over again by climate science opposites for years as proof that the United Nations Climate Convention represents a hidden socialist agenda for redistributing wealth.
Just last week, Maurice Newman – a business adviser to another former Liberal Prime Minister, Tony Abbott – used the exact same quotes to make exactly the same point in an article in the Spectator.
“At least Professor Ottmar Edenhofer of the left-wing Potsdam Institute has the courage to say aloud what is becoming more obvious every day,” Newman wrote, not to mention that the quotes are 12 years old.
The source is an English translation of an interview given by Edenhofer to the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung in 2010.
Edenhofer told Temperature Check that the quotes were taken “completely out of context” and were circulated by climate action opponents “again and again”.
“Fortunately, the full version of the interview is still available on the Internet,” he said.
“As usual, context matters: my point was that climate policy is, by its very nature, economic policy. Economic policy includes setting rules in the struggle for the distribution of scarce resources, and in such a struggle for distribution there are always winners and losers. That is why it is important to always consider climate and development policy together.
“That climate protection is just a pretext and that it actually involves all redistribution from the rich to the poor is total nonsense.”
He said that pricing greenhouse gas emissions should effectively penalize the use of fossil fuels and any redistribution of wealth “is simply a consequence of the need to stop using fossil fuels to limit global warming and avoid dangerous climate impacts. “.
Climate of guilt
In the Netherlands, farmers and their supporters protested the new rules proposed by the government to radically reduce the use of ammonia, nitrogen oxides and nitrous oxide.
They are dumping manure on the roads and blocking the routes, saying the government cuts are unrealistic and will see many farms having to close.
Like many other conservative commentators around the world, Sky News host James Morrow wanted to blame climate change policies.
“[Farmers] they are told they will have to cut production at a time of global food insecurity to substantially follow climate mandates, ”Morrow said.
There is no doubt that reducing nitrogen use would benefit the climate, but that’s not what the rules are about. The Dutch government’s efforts to reduce nitrogen are aimed at cutting out habitats that threaten localized pollution near agricultural operations.
The head of programs of the Dutch environmental group Natuur & Milieu, Rob van Tilburg, told Temperature Check: “The reason for the necessary intervention by the Dutch government is the continuous loss of nature that has arisen due to the exceeding of nitrogen standards. For years. It is definitely not the climate ”.
He said three quarters of the Dutch nature reserves have been affected by nitrogen pollution and the country’s intensive agricultural industry, which keeps 115 million pigs, cows, chickens and goats in a country with only 17 million people.
Nitrogen regulations applied to all European countries, but the country’s supreme court declared government policies invalid three years ago.
Van Tilburg said: “As a result, it is no longer allowed to issue permits for activities and projects that cause nitrogen emissions. Nitrogen pollution is making the soil acidic and we are rapidly losing nitrogen-sensitive plants and animal species. “