2014 Speech at the Declaration of the Polls in Gippsland East Part 2

(artwork Deirdre Jack)

Bairnsdale 8.12.2014

So what are some of the worst-case scenarios? 2014 is shaping up as the hottest year on Earth since measurements began. We can expect another long hot summer. This means another torrid fire season. Every time there is a fire or threat of fire in Gippsland the tourist traffic drops. Every time the fire rating reaches code red travel comes to a standstill. The tourist industry is threatened now. Heatwaves and bushfires threaten our power supplies and life itself. The very young, sick and elderly are our first victims of global warming. Make no mistake your family and your family’s future are under threat. As we dally and procrastinate and listen to the climate criminals in the Murdoch media we are moving towards the abyss of low level runaway warming.

And who talks of low level runaway warming? None other than James Hansen, director of Goddard Institute of Space Studies at NASA until his recent retirement – an employee of the organization that put man on the moon and one of the most reputable climate scientists. Low level runaway warming means that whatever actions mankind takes the warming will continue producing a barely recognizable, sizzling world with wars over limited resources, far fewer humans, the extinction of many species, not much ice and no penguins, not much coral and no more clown fish, few forests – an unrecognizable world.

The more slowly we act the more severe the consequences of climate change and the more radical the required action. Urgent action now could possibly avoid the need for a wartime style emergency government bringing with it a loss of freedom and many of the things we take for granted – perhaps even the right to vote. We face stark choices now – principally whether we fully support renewable energy or continue with the old fossil fuel industry. There are many other stark choices related to jobs, food production, clean air, and water.

True leadership in politics is doing something first and then hopefully bringing the people with you. Sometimes this requires great courage and sometimes the leader is isolated. I often quote the maxim of English divine Thomas Norton “Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.” My hope is for true leadership and courage to come to the fore at all levels of politics. Then we can work hard preparing for the worst of global warming.