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Heís not the Green messiah, heís a very naughty boy

By Gary Johns - posted Friday, 20 October 2017


The Coalition has begun to restore a modicum of rationality to the electricity market in Australia. There is more to do. They must assault the green mindset.

Greens are shallow, short-term and anti-democratic, precisely the opposite of the ideals they claim to champion: deep, long-term thinking with liberal democratic souls and pure of heart.

Instead, Greens are shallow because they spend their lives campaigning on the basis of crises that never eventuate. Overpopulation, mass starvation, ruination by agricultural chemicals, mass extinction of species, ecosystem collapse and resource depletion never happen. The world refuses to succumb to the calamity du jour.

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But Greens need a calamity to thrive. When one calamity fails to materialise, they invent another. The latest is the alleged threat to Australia's Great Barrier Reef from the Adani Carmichael coalmine. The reef is an icon, the mine its bete noire.

A Morgan Poll suggests that most Australians do not think the Adani (Carmichael) mine should proceed. I have my doubts about the veracity of the result, especially as another ­Morgan poll of "issues of concern" showed that climate change was mentioned by ­8 per cent of Australians, about the voting strength of the Greens.

Why, when climate change is such a low priority, should Adani be such a target? The Adani polling result is a shocking indictment of the wilful misrepresentation of evidence in the Adani case. Australian Greens leader Richard Di Natale says he is prepared to stand in front of bulldozers and be arrested to stop it. Green activists allegedly are trying to recruit pro­fessional moles to infiltrate jobs in the construction of the mine.

Di Natale believes that "losing" the Great Barrier Reef would cost 70,000 jobs. How will the reef be lost? Greens conflate an alleged physical threat to the reef with a broader climate threat. Coal has been hauled across the reef for generations without harm. There is no physical threat to the reef from shipping Adani coal across it.

The Morgan poll on Adani reflects a deliberate conflation of direct and indirect harm. There is no direct physical threat and the indirect threat is a fast fading theory. Even "the brightest man in Australia", Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, would know that if Australia were uninhabited there would be no change to the potential threat to the reef from burning coal.

Recall Bjorn Lomborg's observation of the Paris Accord, achieving the 1.5C global warming target "would require nothing less than the entire planet abandoning the use of every single fossil fuel in less than four years".

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Adani, as with so many other proponents for resource extraction in Australia, has complied with environmental legislation. Green activists assisted both major political parties to write such legislation. From the 1970s environmental impact statements have grown into extraordinarily complex studies, in the Adani case costing tens of millions of dollars and years to compile. And, after all the hurdles have been cleared, still green activists are unhappy. Democracy is ignored.

Instead, greens threaten to trash the law. Di Natale boasts: "You will see a campaign every bit as big as the campaign that stopped the damming of the Franklin." The Franklin is a lovely river, most of it would have survived a dam, and Tasmania could have been energy self-sufficient with it. Instead, when drought hits Tasmania, the state must rely on coal generation from Victoria for electricity. Green Tasmania is bludging off the mainland.

Hydro is a renewable source of energy. Or at least it was until greens discovered wild rivers. And greens stopped nuclear power, the cleanest source of power. The trouble with greens is their thinking is so short-term.

The time has come to slap a writ on campaigners who set out to destroy others' livelihoods. The time has come to confront, disrupt and punish environmental campaigners who break the law, ignore parliament and harm legitimate business and workers.

Civil disobedience has an honourable place in the world. It has helped to change attitudes and laws that ended slavery, secured the rights of women, and blacks, and gays. But it is an abuse of the noble tradition to suggest that civil disobedience is justified to prevent a theoretical harm at a far-distant time. Stopping an unrelated activity, a coalmine in Australia, at significant immediate cost to Australians and Indians will not stop climate change.

Politicians should stand toe-to-toe with the greens who want to stop a legitimate mining activity. Activists are damaging Australia. It is about time politicians grew a backbone and confronted these latter-day Luddites.

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This article was first published in The Australian.



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About the Author

Gary Johns is a fellow of the Australian Institute for Progress and an adjunct professor at QUT.

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