I have known Ben Buckley, pilot, politician and ordinary bloke, for a long time. About 1978 he took a group of school teachers on an aerial survey of the Victorian Alps, which included ‘rolling’ the plane through a rainbow to prove it did not touch the ground and skimming the cairn on top of Mt Bogong, Victoria’s highest mountain. Since then we have mostly, but not always, been political opponents. In the 1983 federal campaign for instance, Ben was an early advocate of solar energy and with the Iraq war he was a financial supporter of my irregular anti-Iraq war newsletter and an advocate of ‘armed neutrality’ for Australia – a policy with which I have strong sympathies.
Ben can best be described as a political ‘loose cannon’ and a larrikin and has stood for office as an Independent and as a representative for a number of different political parties – a criticism which can also be levelled at me. Recently as an anti-establishment local councillor he was the only councillor elected on first preferences. As a ‘populist conservative’ Ben has called for more open government and for far less Shire business to be held ‘in camera’. In this there is little doubt that he has the support of the general public. But our major difference in recent years has been over climate change. Ben’s position has shifted from outright denial along the lines of Tony Abbott’s ‘crap’ to a more sophisticated form of “we have always had climate change”.
This is true as far as it goes but makes no allowance for the rate of change. It makes no allowance for events occurring on a human time scale and those on a geological one. It accepts the global warming statistics furnished by the major weather organisations but denies that the changes are man-made. There are a number of ways of looking at this. The basic physics and logic of the greenhouse effect clearly indicates that it is man-made. Also satellite temperature measurements of the stratosphere (upper atmosphere) indicate it is cooling whilst the troposphere is warming. If the warming was due to an increase in energy from sun the stratosphere should be warming. Events such as natural climate change occur over hundreds and thousands of years but man-made climate change (the Anthropocene) is happening rapidly now. I support Ben in his struggle with the council but do wish he would bring himself up to date on climate change.