Warren Truss knows a lot about farming, is a seasoned politician, but he is no expert on climate change.
The Nationals leader and acting Opposition leader responded to the current heatwave and bushfire emergencies across Australia yesterday by denying any climate change link.
The response in reply was swift and savage.
“It’s too simplistic to link a finite spell to climate change,” Mr Truss said.
“These comments tend to be made on hot days rather than cold days,” he added.
“Australia’s climate, it’s changing, it’s changeable. We have hot times, we have cold times,” he went on, adding: “Indeed I guess there’ll be more CO2 emissions from these fires than there will be from coal-fired power stations for decades”.
Mr Truss’s unscientific viewpoint was no doubt in response to comments made by the prime minister the day before. Julia Gillard warned there would be more extreme weather because of climate change, a view supported by scientists and their research around the world.
One of them is Professor Jeremy Williams of Griffith University who reported yesterday that November 2012 was the 333rd consecutive month of rising average temperatures globally. He is one of an army of climate change experts who are calling on governments, businesses and individuals to respond to the threat.
“Climate change is here now and the onus is on each individual to make a meaningful change,” he said.
That includes Mr Truss!
The associate director of the Australian National University’s climate law and policy centre, Andrew Macintosh, described Mr Truss’s bushfire emissions statement as “utter rubbish”.
“The electricity emissions in Australia at the moment are around 200 million tonnes a year. These fires wouldn’t come even near that,” Mr Macintosh said.
And the University of Queensland’s climate change professor James Shulmeister assessed Mr Truss’s statement as “ridiculous”.
So, can we expect under an Abbott and Truss government there will be no Minister for Climate Change? Can we also expect the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Bureau of Meteorology and other government bodies will be asked to stop wasting their time on climate change research? And will funding to climate change research be redirected to planting trees as our first defence against extreme weather conditions?
Who would you trust – a politician or a scientist on the subject of the planet’s future?