The Australian government intends to abolish the carbon tax effective July 1, 2014, thereby dismantling one of the hallmark policies established under former Prime Minister, Julia Gilliard. In a recent interview in free speech NOW!, George Brandis, the current attorney general for Australia voices his opinion on the climate change debate.
Although Brandis is not a climate change denier and believes something should be done about it, he does believe the debate was pedantic and found himself “really shocked by the sheer authoritarianism of those who would have excluded from the debate the point of view of people who were climate change deniers.” Brandis, a fan of free speech, describes the debate in Australia as “deplorable….where one side [has] the orthodoxy on its side and deligitimises the views of those who disagree, rather than engaging with them intellectually and showing them why they are wrong.”
In response to those who believe that the science of climate change is settled, Brandis noted that this speaks to the emergence of “a habit of mind and mode of discourse which would deny the legitimacy of an alternative point of view, where rather than winning the argument [they] exclude their antagonists from the argument.”
Brandis’ comments are certainly very interesting and likely to spark additional debate. Is he right or is he just adding more fuel to an already hotly debated topic in Australia and the rest of the world?
Unfortunately Mr Brandis is using weasel words. The fact that the new Australian government is overturning legislation and cancelling programs meant to ameliorate the effects of climate change shows that it is those who don’t think climate change is an issue that are in authority. In fact, it is the scientists who have the empirical evidence that climate change is occurring and has a strong anthropogenic element who are being locked out of the debate. Again, as with climate science, we should look at the evidence of what is happening in Australia to see what the facts are. When did we start taking the words of politicians at face value? That would be very foolish indeed.
Brandis is right about the too-common bullying tactics of climate zealots. But it is misleading to confuse “skeptics” with “deniers.”
Ironically, however, the obsession with bullying and silencing skeptics actually backfires, working against the accomplishment of climate activists’ goals. Prof. Roger Pielke Jr. (U. of Colorado) writes:
“…a closer look at the logic underlying such arguments reveals a chain of causality which scholars of the public understanding of science have long critiqued as the ineffectual ‘deficit model’ of science. Even more troubling, there is reason to believe that the focus of attention by climate campaigners on skeptics actually works against effective action.”
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