Climate Change education and Government Action

In a recent post I briefly touched on the desperate need for some basic scientific education in our body politic. This will be especially so when governments start implementing some of the more unpopular laws required to combat the climate emergency. The education process should be everywhere – especially in government departments, legislative chambers, across the media, schools and the general public. It should especially be part of any climate strategy which can be directed immediately to the elites – upper levels of government – as suggested by Alan Pears.

The promotion in the media should be science based and ubiquitous. Above all it should non-political. There is already a mass of visual material on the net that could be easily crafted for television and the print media giving basic explanations in a variety of ways on the greenhouse effect and all aspects of climate science. It should be information based – not a scare campaign – and a huge budget is probably required to counter the reaction from fossil fuel and other vested interests. Schools are almost certainly the best organised in this regard but provision of extra learning materials may assist in some areas.

Had something of this sort had been introduced by the Rudd/Gillard governments the ‘carbon tax’ may well have succeeded. On the one hand the negative scare campaign of the Abbott opposition would not have fallen on such fertile ground. The legislation may have been more carefully crafted and introduced possibly even in a bipartisan manner if the legislators themselves had been more thoroughly informed on the issue. Finally if PM Gillard had honestly admitted her mistake of her pre-election ‘no carbon tax’ claim public sympathy would have helped. It is clear still that many of our leaders on both sides of politics have yet to come grips with, or understand, the problem.

Within the media the unprincipled Abbott opposition was cheered on by the anti-science Murdoch media and this anti-science stance of the largest player in the print industry continues to this day. Strategically it may be necessary to direct the science based publicity campaigns away from this sector though perhaps unwise to exclude them completely. Science based adverts provided by the CSIRO for instance, would make interesting reading placed next to an opinion piece by Andrew Bolt in the Peoples Paper.

Finally, and in conjunction with the education campaign, any legislation that is introduced in the future should be revenue neutral – all the money collected is returned equally to the people. This in turn will mean such legislation will be more readily accepted, and is basically James Hansen’s ‘fee and dividend’ proposal. A carbon ‘fee’ of this kind is currently being implemented in Canada. Another way the ‘fee and dividend’ could be gradually introduced is by applying it to targeted areas – for instance on exports of coal and other fossil based fuels.