My wife has just received a political text message from climate change denier and anti-vaxxer Craig Kelly MP. A blog by Lakes health worker Mark Kilpatrick of nearly three years ago briefly explored the links between climate change and vaccinations. He noted, “if we look at denial of the science, there are many similarities. Our understanding of the world is based on centuries of scientific inquiry, hypotheses, experimentation, refutation and discussion before agreement is reached as to the validity of the theory explaining how things work. Vaccinations came about through a gradual understanding of germs and how the body defends itself against disease.”
Since Mark wrote his blog the nation has been overwhelmed by the Covid-19 epidemic and the now virulent Delta strain. With the latter, the science took some time to realise how rapidly it could transfer and infect others. But generally governments around Australia have adopted a best science approach – something that has been lacking with climate change. I hope that the lockdowns and the rollout of vaccinations will enable our health system to cope with the inevitable increase in hospitalisations.
Meanwhile, we have some anti-vaxxers in parliament* and political exploiters like Palmer using their positions of power or their buckets of money to promote their own political agenda and exploit the divisions in the community. Like the Kelly text, the freedom adverts in the Age, the promotion of lockdown and anti-vax protests are clear examples of this. I wonder how many of those exploiting the anti-vaxxers and so called ‘freedom’ movements like Palmer have been vaccinated.
There is also the far bigger question of politicising science – in this case medical science but also including climate science. Science always wins in the end but exploiting ignorance, fear, and gullibility of the populous is perceived as politically advantageous in the short term to the anti-vaxxers as it has been for the climate deniers for many years. Since the results of these actions are often fatal, they are also criminal.
Some also need reminding that the measures taken during these lockdowns are miniscule compared to what will eventuate when the climate emergency is taken seriously by the nation. For then we will be on a ‘wartime’ footing and many of the ‘freedoms’ Palmer and his cohorts support will simply vanish. Governments will drastically increase their activities for the greater good at the expense of individualism. They will be bipartisan, internationally co-operative and intervene in all corners of our lives. The longer actions are delayed the more severe these government impositions will be.
*in the LNP (or ex-LNP in the case of Kelly) and One Nation