Opinion | The Gauge
There's no polite way to start this conversation.
I'm going to start with the c-word. In fact, two.
Yes, I'm going to talk about climate change.
Climate change has been on all our minds for most of the past two years as we deal with bushfires the size of several European countries, prolonged drought, more regular heatwaves, and lethal floods.
Assisted by certain sections of the media, the argument has become one of extreme and ridiculous claims from both sides.
Prominent scientific experts have been called climate change "believers" or worse still "alarmists".
Can I just say these three things?
- Climate change is not a "hoax made up by China".
- Climate change is not an excuse for the most orange person on television since Bert and Ernie to belittle and denigrate a Swedish teenager.
- Climate change is not a belief system. Religion and politics are belief systems. Climate change is based on science and was predicted, actually extremely accurately by climate scientists almost 40 years ago, based on the emissions of population growth and increasingly industrialised human activities. Or as Neil deGrasse Tyson said, "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it".
It may surprise you that in many parts of the world, the acceptance of climate change science is not based on politics, and certainly not a conspiracy of lefties and "woke capital city greenies".
The acceptance of climate science is first and foremost in most of Europe, and responses are led by right-of-centre political leaders like Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson.
Finland recently announced that the entire economy was going to be carbon neutral by 2035.
Indeed, even in Australia, Meat & Livestock Australia has launched an ambitious and far-sighted Carbon Neutral Beef by 2032 program.
Climate uncertainty and variability is getting wilder, as predicted by scientists.
It is hotter and drier all over the continent, and it's the hotter part that should strike the fear into us the most.
What do you do when you feel hot? You have a drink of water.
Same thing with your cattle and sheep.
Irrigators know they will have to apply more water in hotter weather.
If you're a dryland operator, you look to the skies for a storm.
Hotter weather leads to higher water use and even with the same rainfall, the water will run out more quickly, leading to more prolonged drought.
An effective climate policy vacuum in Australia just adds to the uncertainty.
Just ask the last four prime ministers.
No climate policy is effective without some sort of emissions trading scheme. We had one. It worked.
Australia needs a coherent climate change policy going forward.
We need clear legislation with research and implementation programs to assist rural industries to transition to new climate friendly production systems backed by science, not "beliefs".
Who's to blame for this policy vacuum? We all are.
We haven't demanded the action required.
We've listened to "we are only 1.2 per cent of global emissions".
Time to bat up the order and show the leadership that Australia has always been proud of for a country with only 0.7pc of the world's population.
Ian Godwin is the Director of the Centre for Crop Science at QAAFI at the University of Queensland. He is the author of Good Enough to Eat? Next Generation GM Crops.