Australia’s New Prime Minister Thinks Climate Science Is “Highly Contentious”

Tony Abbott’s Liberal campaign slogan of “Chose real change” may turn out to be unsettlingly on the mark

Lasseter Highway
Toby Hudson

Australia’s newly elected liberal government, led by prime minister Tony Abbott, has very different ideas about what constitutes adequate climate policy than the country’s former political leaders. Among those changes, the New Scientist writes, are getting rid of both the country’s emissions trading scheme and its climate advisory board. To make amends, Abbott proposes a new carbon reduction policy, but experts have already written off that plan as a fatally flawed failure.

Rather than sneak these changes by the Australian public, they seem to have driven the Liberal-National coalition’s victory. Here’s the New Scientist:

It ran for election with a core idea of “scrapping the carbon tax”.

Abbott’s coalition also signalled that it would disband Australia’s Climate Commission – an independent scientific body that provides reliable information on climate change to the public. In response to a report the commission released, warning that extreme weather was made more likely by climate change, Abbott said: “When the carbon tax goes, all of those bureaucracies will go and I suspect we might find that the particular position you refer to goes with them.”

Abbott does not keep his climate skepticism a secret. In 2009, the New Scientist points out, he commented that the “science is highly contentious, to say the least” and “the climate change argument is absolute crap.” Staying true to form, upon victory his party declared that funding for such “ridiculous” climate-themed research will soon dry up.

According to the IPCC, there is “ample evidence for significant potential impacts” to Australia’s climate and ecology as climate change continues to tamper with temperatures and precipitation in the future. By 2030, rain patterns will change by about 10 percent in magnitude, mostly decreasing but also producing more frequent severe storms in the summer. In Sydney, for example, “100-year floods” are predicted to increase by a factor of ten. Pest animals like rabbits will increase, while some of Australia’s beloved biodiversity–think koalas and coral reefs–may decrease. Overall, things don’t look pretty for Australia under a warmer future scenario.

Abbott may consider adding the disclaimer of potentially more events like the recent flooding, drought and fires his country has suffered to his promises of creating ”a stronger Australia” and a “better future.” However, his campaign slogan of “Chose real change” may turn out to be unsettlingly on the mark.

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