2014 Speech to Candidate’s Forum at the Riviera Christian Centre, Bairnsdale
The 2013 heatwave has been calculated as 2000 times more likely to have occurred because of climate change. The heatwave of January 2014 caused an extra 167 fatalities. Now we can say that these events have been heavily influenced by climate change and that therefore some of these fatalities have been caused by the warming. We don’t know how many but eventually sophisticated science and statistics will be able to put an exact number on each event. We can safely assume that in the last 15 years some hundreds of our fellow countrymen have been killed by the effects of climate change. Compare this with terrorism in Australia. The last terrorist attack in our country was in 1915, nearly 100 years ago, when there were 4 fatalities.
Which leads me to the role of the media. Sometimes we could get the impression from our papers, radio and TV that the whole of Australia is under constant terrorist attack, or that the Essendon Football Club is the most important thing on earth, whereas the real threat of climate change is barely mentioned, or worse, often scandalously attacked. The role of the media in many aspects is a betrayal of us all. They have been persuaded by their 40 pieces of silver and many of our politicians have also taken their share. The role of vested interests in persuading the public and influencing the political process and the highest politicians in the land is also a betrayal. Perhaps it is time, figuratively speaking, that these ‘moneylenders were cast from the temple.”
Sometime in the 15th or 16th century the English divine Thomas Norton coined the maxim “Hope for the best but plan for the worst”. This is what we do in many aspects of our life. In 2003 and 2006/7 we had two massive Alpine bushfires – both heavily influenced by climate change. In each of these events my family house at Ensay was directly threatened and I worked hard each day preparing for the possible bushfire attack. I was planning and preparing for the worst. That essentially is what everyone must do with regards climate change – “Hope for the best but plan for the worst”.
I will briefly touch on a few of the possible solutions to this enormous problem. Firstly if your church saves energy and money it is heading in the right direction. I note the many solar panels on the Uniting Church on the Great Alpine Road. Second it is your moral imperative to make sure that your church funds are not invested in coal. Some churches are already part of the so-called divestment movement. Finally we have to persuade our politicians that this is an urgent problem, above party politics, needing immediate and appropriate attention. You can do this by casting your first vote for me before marking the rest of your ballot paper and send a direct message to the major parties in Spring St.