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Hope lies beyond latest climate shock therapy

  • 09 February 2016

News about climate change can be depressing. But it was downright shocking to learn that budget cuts to CSIRO have led to the decimation of the agency's climate science. This despite the fact that CEO Larry Marshall says climate change has been 'proven' and that now is the time for action.

Hardest hit will be modelling and monitoring of the oceans and atmosphere. Predictions will be compromised, as will observation and monitoring if our Paris targets and evidence based adaptation and mitigation.

The earth is very ill. The habitat of humans and earth's ecosystems and dependant species are in severe decline. Should our rising emissions continue, we will bequeath a ravaged planet to our descendants.

Pope Francis — the most compassionate hopeful and scientifically informed Pope of all time — is not holding out for a miracle. Speaking prior to COP21 in Paris, the Pope declared: 'We are at the limit of a suicide, to say a strong word.' Our world is on a suicidal course, unless we pay attention and pull out of this nosedive into the sixth great extinction.

Psychologically, we may defend, deny, delude, distract, rail against the truth and shoot the messanger; but that won't save the earth. We may sacrifice Africa, the Pacific Islands, Bangladesh and their people, to drought and inundation; but the rampaging of an anthropogenic changed climate will get us all in the end. That poor and less developed nations will suffer first and most is cold and immoral comfort.

We tell ourselves it won't happen to us. That is a psychological defence against an unbearable reality. It can be our fatal undoing, leading to a failure to heed warnings.

Professor Robert Manne asks in his Monthly essay 'Diabolical' why we have failed to address climate change despite knowing its human causes and dire consequences. Australia's emissions have risen to all time highs and will not peak before 2030.

I have been told — and research shows — that climate news is seen as boring and repetitive, and should not be doomsday-ish or frighten the readers, otherwise they will switch off. Terrorism, political intrigue, sport, jobs and the economy are the favoured news items.

Alan Rusbridge, as retiring editor of the Guardian, called climate the biggest story of our lives. He regretted not waking people up to this. 'It is such an enormous story that you would expect it to be on the front page every day — and it almost never is.'

The media has, ironically, reported on