Australian media identities lined up to attack the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg this week for her scathing speech at the UN.
From just one mention in the Australian media in September 2018, Thunberg’s prominence has grown to 2,848 mentions this month, according to Streem media monitoring.
The more the 16-year-old has been mentioned, the more annoyed some commentators have become.
There were the middle-aged white men who threw insults at the climate activist: the Nine footy personality Sam Newman, the broadcaster Alan Jones, the columnist Andrew Bolt, the Australian’s resident climate contrarians Chris Kenny and Graham Lloyd, and the Sky commentator Mark Latham. Then there were the middle-aged white women: the Tele’s Miranda Devine and the Sydney Morning Herald’s Amanda Vanstone. All very predictable.
Greta Thunberg is a true leader by every definition” by Mitchell Adams,
Sydney Morning Herald. September 25, 2019
The lyrics in the second verse of Changes by the late great David Bowie perfectly capture the events leading up to this week’s UN Climate Conference.
“And these children that you spit on; As they try to change their worlds; Are immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what they’re goin’ through.”
These incredibly potent words swirled through my head while I watched in awe as 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg gave heads of governments a well-deserved spray over their lack of action regarding climate change. Some of them, including our very own Prime Minister, couldn’t even have been bothered to show up to the conference.
Amazingly, over the past few weeks, seemingly every conservative commentator, every internet troll and every tin hat-wearing conspiracy theorist has thrown one giant co-ordinated tantrum over Greta, all using some form of dehumanising and degrading language to describe her and paint her in as negative light as possible.
Under the weight of this constant harassment for weeks on end, even the toughest and bravest of adults would probably have a severe mental breakdown.
But instead, Greta responded in a manner that showed she possesses more maturity and leadership than any of her critics. Taking to Twitter, she said:
“When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning! I have Aspergers, and that means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm. And – given the right circumstances- being different is a superpower.”
In response to teenage climate activist Greta Thurnberg’s well-publicised speech to the United Nations, Scott Morrison, Australia’s Pentecostal Prime Minister, warned children against ‘needless’ climate anxiety, saying:
he wants to give children confidence they will have ‘an economy to live in’
I’m quite sure that Morrison’s “economy to live in” would have little in common with:
all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need (acts 2)
And would be more like the fairytale of eternal growth that Thurnberg denounces.
…all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!
He made his remarks from America, where he has been the guest of Donald Trump. Despite being in the US at the time, unlike other world leaders, Morrison chose not to attend the UN conference, but instead visited a McDonalds in Chicago to see a new drive-thru system.
Morrison also broke protocol by appearing as support act at a Trump rally, seen as an early promotion for Trump’s re-election.
Climate change denial.
Based on Politics or Reality?
Christian climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe:
Recently in the comments section of my blog, a video was posted that made an extraordinary comparison.
While the video was primarily about the early space program, the interview guest, clearly wanting to defend the contribution of former Nazi rocket expert Werner von Braun, insisted the rocket scientist’s help of the Nazis was self-preserving pragmatism.
That is quite possibly the case.
However, the guest continued with a comparison: that von Braun’s pragmatism was the same as scientists today having to endorse climate change to avoid being ostracised by the wider scientific community.
How do we count the problems within that comparison?
The man making that comparison was William Federer, a professing Christian who I’ve seen described as “a nationally known speaker, best-selling author, and president of Amerisearch, Inc., a publishing company dedicated to researching America’s noble heritage”.
Putting aside the ignorant offensiveness of his comparison, the suggestion that climate change deniers are being pressured to conform, when denial is the expressed stance of the current White House administration, is at odds with examples like this:
I was a climate scientist in a climate-denying administration – and it cost me my job
The US President chooses not to believe in climate change while 97%+ of scientists are reported as recognizing its reality.
1) Depending on exactly how you measure the expert consensus, it’s somewhere between 90% and 100% that agree humans are responsible for climate change, with most of our studies finding 97% consensus among publishing climate scientists.
2) The greater the climate expertise among those surveyed, the higher the consensus on human-caused global warming.
Those denying that percentage tend to have links to the fossil fuel industries, or see political advantage (fossil fuel $$$) from climate change denial (refer to Donald Trump at the beginning of the video above)
I have to wonder why so many “evangelicals” choose to climb into bed with fossil fuel industry interests?
Why do Christians reject scientific evidence in favour of political, money focused dogma?
I don’t want to spend a lot of time delving into the intricacies and contradictions of this topic, but I do have a few thoughts I want to express about Cardinal George Pell, his child sex abuse conviction, and the influence he’s had on Australian political direction. Until his downfall, Pell embodied that dangerous mix of religion and “rightwing conservative” politics.
It has now been revealed in Australia, that the nation’s highest ranking Catholic was found guilty in December 2018, of sex offenses against children. The verdict had been suppressed here until two or three days ago, even though it was revealed elsewhere in the world.
I remember local newspapers expressing a grievance for being prevented from reporting about a prominent Australian’s conviction of serious offences. They were prevented by a court order from reporting on the case and its outcome.
Now the news is out.
Cardinal George Pell was found guilty of engaging in forcible sexual acts against two choir boys after mass in the 1990s. Pell is one of the Pope’s most senior men. I recall something about him being the third most important person in the Roman Catholic Church.
Of the two victims, only one took this case to court, the other had died of a drug overdose many years ago. His family now say they finally understand why their son had such a troubled life, spiralling into a fatal relationship with drugs; although throughout his life he had always denied he’d experienced any sexual abuse.
The case against Pell therefore relied on the testimony of one man who gave evidence on behalf of himself and his childhood friend. While not intending to defend Pell or discount the validity of the guilty conviction, I find myself troubled a little by that. How much actual evidence was there apart from that one person’s testimony? I assume there was a lot more than that single thing, but I’ve come across nothing yet in the news reports I’ve seen.
My unease is exacerbated by the many cases I’ve read and heard about recently, where there have been clear miscarriages of justice and the innocent have been given long prison sentences on very flimsy evidence, or have had their lives ruined by false claims against them that they were never allowed to challenge in court. For various reasons the courts, and the media, do get things wrong, particularly when evidence is sparse and circumstantial.
On the other side of the equation, if Pell is innocent, it astounds me that his defence team tried to minimise the sentence he’d be awarded, by trying to underplay the seriousness of the crimes of which he’d been found guilty. Describing the crime as a “plain vanilla sexual penetration case where the child is not actively participating”, didn’t seem to be the tactic of a genuinely innocent man.
In the many cases of wrongful conviction that I referred to earlier, there was an ongoing insistence of innocence, with no desperate backing down, in the hope of getting leniency in sentencing.
One of the complicating factors of this case is that Pell was a senior member of an organisation with a woeful record of sexual abuse against minors committed by its leaders. Equally woeful is the response taken when the abuse has been exposed. The response primarily sought to protect the RC Church and its guilty clergy rather than bring about justice for those who had been abused.
Cover-up was the chosen course. And that ongoing history places some guilt upon ALL of those in leadership who enabled it. Whether they personally abused a child or not, if they actively played a part in that cover-up they should share the guilt.
Pell himself gained a reputation for making things harder for those who sought some kind of recognition and recourse from the church. Is Pell a good man, innocent of the sex crime but reaping what his church had sown? Some are suggesting that’s the case.
After the revelation of the guilty verdict, some of the more rightwing commentators of the local Murdoch press have spoken out against the court’s decision, claiming that Pell is a scapegoat. Additionally some of the more rightwing Government ministers have expressed similar views. And two former prime Ministers have expressed their support for Pell. John Howard (PM from 1996 to 2007) wrote a glowing character reference for Pell after the conviction and before sentencing, describing him as “a person of both high intelligence and exemplary character“. (my emphasis – onesimus)
Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that Pell continues to maintain support from those people. He has been a strong voice of right-wing conservatism, and his influence on the political paths of a few domineering members of Australia’s current government is evident, in particular the climate change deniers who have crippled Government climate and energy policy since they came into power in 2013.
Some time ago, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott (a Pell supporter) gave a speech decrying those who sought action to address climate change. His speech was a barely disguised repetition of one previously given by Pell. (see below)*
Now that Pell’s conviction has been made known, it will be interesting to see whether his political influence, enacted by his polictial acolytes, will gradually be undermined.
Pell said some of the “hysteric and extreme claims about global warming” were “a symptom of pagan emptiness, of Western fear” of the “immense and basically uncontrollable forces of nature”.
“In the past, pagans sacrificed animals and even humans in vain attempts to placate capricious and cruel gods,” Pell said. “Today they demand a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.”
This week, Tony Abbott made a curiously similar speech.
Addressing the climate-sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation in London, Abbott returned to his own scepticism about whether climate change is occurring to worrying degrees. He adopted his private confessor’s argument and his style.
“Environmentalism has managed to combine a post-socialist instinct for big government with a post-Christian nostalgia for making sacrifices in a good cause,” Abbott said.
“Primitive people once killed goats to appease the volcano gods. We’re more sophisticated now but are still sacrificing our industries and our living standards to the climate gods to little more effect.”
Also of interest, a dissenting right wing commentator’s view.
Broadcaster Ray Hadley criticises Howard and Abbott for supporting Pell.
At a time when the Australian Governmentt (led by a Pentecostal “Christian” Prime Minister”) is rejecting the findings of a UN Climate report, insisting on a continued reliance on coal (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/world-leaders-have-moral-obligation-to-act-after-un-climate-report),
I thought it worthwhile to revisit the blog post below.
Following the commentary on secular news sites, I’ve seen how “Christian” antipathy towards the issue of climate change has itself increased antipathy towards belief in God.
An EXCELLENT interview – primarily on the issue of climate change, but also revealing the reality of political influence shaping the beliefs of Christians, as well as the motivation behind those influential political ideologies.
Caring about climate is entirely consistent with who we are as Christians, but over the last several decades we have increasingly begun to confound our politics with our faith to the point where instead of our faith dictating our attitudes on political and social issues we are instead allowing our political party to dictate our attitude on issues that are clearly consistent with who we are.
We are being told things by people who don’t like the solutions to climate change and have decided that its a lot better and a lot smarter to deny the reality of the problem than to acknowledge it exists but say you don’t want to do anything about…
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After moving into my house more than 12 years ago I’ve been keeping a list of the different birds I’ve seen either in our garden or from our garden. It’s been several months since I’ve been able to add a new one to the list: until Sunday morning.
On Sunday I was walking around outside and heard an unfamiliar bird chattering away. In a neighbour’s tree I saw a once familiar sight – a pair of rainbow lorikeets.
They were a frequent visitor around my previous home in Sydney. They would sit on the window sill, or on the balcony table, and were “tame” enough to be handfed. However, they’re not supposed to be native to more inland areas like the town where I now live.
According to the two bird field guides I own, their habitat should be closer to the coast. However, changing climate seems to be having its effect on the movement of wild life, and the range of some birds (rainbow lorikeets included) is expanding.
Both photos were taken from my back garden.