Shorten’s religious-like belief overshadows debate

Shorten’s religious-like belief overshadows debate, by Henry Ergas.

According to Labor and the Greens, climate change is fundamentally a moral issue. That, they say, means there is no need to cost their policies, which must simply be accepted as the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, it is that combination of demagogy and fanaticism that increasingly dominates the Australian scene. Never has that been clearer than in the attacks on climate economist Brian Fisher, which began by impugning the integrity of one of Australia’s foremost environmental economists and rapidly escalated into vandalism against his home.

Fisher’s crime is that he modelled the impacts of Labor’s proposed emissions reduction targets, transparently noting the assumptions involved and the sensitivity to those assumptions of his results. He is certainly not the first to undertake an exercise of that kind: both the Rudd and Gillard governments, when they launched their carbon abatement schemes, had modelled the costs of abatement using techniques similar to those Fisher employed. …

The Rudd and Gillard governments may have felt obliged to analyse their schemes’ costs; now, it seems, appeals to emotion are more than enough.

Viewed through the lens of those emotions, Fisher is not merely wrong: he is a heretic. And as we have seen time and again, the punishment these champions of tolerance would administer for heresy is excommunication and social death.

It is, under those circumstances, unsurprising that climate change policy has degenerated into a war of religion, contributing to a broader mood in which zealots feel justified in resorting to lawlessness and intimidation.

And it is unsurprising, too, that today’s atmosphere so closely resembles that which the great Anglican minister Richard Allestree, writing in the midst of the religious conflicts of the 17th century, called a “vindictive age”, whose distinguishing feature was that it had degraded speech from “the storehouse of relief and the aid of human society” into a mere instrument of “insulting vice”.

The immediate effect is that Labor, which still claims to act responsibly, has turned its back on reason — a term whose very origins lie in the Greek word for to count and calculate, and on the basis of counting and calculating, to think and explain.

Once those are banished as tedious obstacles to action, it is not hard to see why climate policy would be determined by whatever a 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirl considers the burning moral imperative of the day. …

Hardly an encouraging environment in which to publish a book pointing out the mistake in the climate models that is responsible  for the scare over carbon dioxide. All based on a mistake. A lot of people — given to violence both verbal and, increasingly,  physical –are not going to want to hear that.