Flat White

I can’t face the cesspool so will someone tell the Twitter loons: wise up – and chill out

13 January 2020

5:18 PM

13 January 2020

5:18 PM

As you can see from the above illustration, Scott Morison causes bushfires.  

So egregious is the culpability of our arsonistinchief that over 190,000 people on Change.org are asking the Governor General to remove him; some asking the Queen specifically with a video DearYourMajesty getting 45,000 likes. Dear monarch, I know I’ve been saying for years that you’re redundant, but please ride in on your grand aristocratic horse and rescue us from ScoMo.  

She’s had a fairly easy year so far; I’m sure she can squeeze that in. 

I’ll bet you regret voting for him, don’t you? If Labor had gotten in, they would have prevented climate change by now and bought a whole lot of additional fire-fighting aircraft as well! But no, you believed the LIES that the Murdock (sic) media shoved down your naïve gullet; you never guessed that within nine short months he’d ignite the country and chuff off to Hawaii to learn the violin so that he could make a real Nero moment out of it. 

There are so many useful lessons in this. Like, next time you try to shake someone’s hand and they refuse, just remember: you are the jerk in that situation, not them. In fact, they are showing leadership qualities that the whole of Australia should emulate, unlike you 

When did Australians become like this? Every time I browsed my newsfeed over the last two weeks I could hardly resist tearing my hair out 

What did ScoMo do wrong? Seriously, what? He took a holiday? In the middle of the bushfire season? Oh well. He was asking for it, then. Everyone knows that only hypocrites take holidays. Of course, in a normal year, this wouldn’t have been the bushfire season. And it was also Christmas (I don’t think a single news report mentioned that), and he has a young family, and he went before the bushfires became really severe. And he came back. 

An unbiased observer would notice, however, that ScoMo was not really judged for his actions. The verdict was already written, his actions just provided something to pin it on. It all came back to this government’s inaction on climate change. 

If you could just put down that spraycan and resist glueing yourself to the pavement for a few minutes, you might realise that there’s a rational, respectful conversation we could be having on this topic. Our government has the duty of balancing a large set of factors and risks when they run our country. Climate change is only one factor. Living conditions, the economy, national security and political stability (which requires us to respect democracy by acknowledging that people have differing opinions and your view won’t always prevail)… all these are relevant and none of these are simple.  

No-one can predict the future, they have to play the cards they have with the board that is set before them. And yes, they will sometimes get it wrong. But maybe they’re getting it right? Maybe we shouldn’t kybosh economic good for tomorrow in a most likely unsuccessful attempt to control sea levels a century from now? 

And while I have your attention, you might happen to notice that things are not all bad. This has been a breathtaking bushfire season so far. By no means do I want to belittle the reality of the heartbreaking loss that some people feel. At the same time, if these had happened fifty years ago, do you think we would’ve had less than thirty casualties? The firefighting technology and notification systems have worked. The reactive performance of these government systems has been spectacular and creditable. Yes, we need to sit down and have a lessons learnt after this. We need to look for deficiencies and improve the systems—a big part of which is probably permitting more back-burning – but that should be a positive ‘continuous improvement’ exercise, not a blame game. 

Oh dear. I’m not sure if you noticed but I just made casual reference to the conspiracy theory that ‘hazard reduction burns’ are somehow a one-stop panacea for bushfires. I’m sorry. If you had listened to the Victorian fire-chief, you would know that they are just one part of a broad panoply of bushfire treatments (only one of which he could list on the spur of the moment). And they’re not even that good. Did you know that after a hazard reduction burn, a decent bushfire can still come through and just burn it all again? That’s right, hazard reduction burns are not a silver bullet, but nine months of slightly better climate change policy would have been.  

Only a conspiracy nut can’t see that, it’s so obvious. If you thought that the left was weaponising climate change, you were wrong; actually the Murdoch press is weaponising Climate Change denial and that’s how they won the election in May. Though it’s odd, you know, from where I was sitting it really did look like this bushfire season created a long-awaited opportunity for the climate council to wheel out its resident former fire chief and score as many political points as possible. A former fire chief can get more airtime than a current one if he says the right things. 

Allow me to share my professional opinion: Australia cannot prevent climate change. It’s not that Australia “is not preventing” or “will not prevent”. We cannot prevent climate change. The technology needed to replace all our current energy needs with sustainable ones does not yet exist. We are moving toward a more sustainable future, but do not yet know what it would look like. Is it batteries? Hydrogen? Other synthetic fuels? Nuclear? Reducing consumption? Solar? Wind? Tidal? Geothermal? It’s probably a mix. But right here and now, we need fossil fuels to remain alive and we don’t have anything approaching a silver bullet for changing that, either. 

Suppose that Australia had tried harder. Could we have affected CO2 levels? Could we have made any dent in them whatsoever? Could we have done anything in the last nine months? No, no and no. 

Consider for instance this report by the ABC. Apparently Australians would be willing to pay $4b to prevent climate change. Australia’s chief economist listed a range of solutions that we could afford for such money, none of which solve the problem. The first is solar for one million houses, the second is batteries for half a million houses. None of the solutions could make a dent on the global problem or even Australia’s part in it, and why wasn’t Nuclear on the list? Notably, the report mentions but doesn’t draw attention to the fact that we are already spending $1.7b. Or as the greens call it “doing nothing”. 

Even if we all agreed that the climate change hypothesis is true, might we not respond by coping with it rather than preventing it? What would it take, a bigger fleet of water-bombers and some dykes? Maybe the chief economist should cost that up. After all, Australia does bushfires. They’re our native natural disasters. We don’t do blizzards or avalanches, it’s just floods and bushfires for us. At worst, climate change will make the right weather conditions more severe or more frequent, but bushfires will still occur regardless. So why am I somehow obliged to buy into the treatments proposed by green activists? For that matter, what are the treatments proposed by green activists? Just stop using fuel and die, last time I checked. 

Well, I really shouldn’t have been bottling all that up, but it feels good to get it off my chest. From a glance at my news feed, it doesn’t look as if the volume will be turned down for a little while yet, and for my own sanity, I need to stop listening. But when some time has passed and it’s no longer ‘too soon’ to say something this insensitive, please pass on the message: chill out. 

Nick Kastelein is a Christian and a conservative who grew up and lives in Adelaide where he works for an engineering consultancy.

Illustration: Nick Kastelein.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Show comments