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Chris Kenny: Sensible Climate Discussion Now Extinct

Chris Kenny, The Australian

You can’t reason with Extinction Rebellion. They are demanding that governments declare a climate emergency, make their parliaments subservient to activist mobs, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions to net zero within six years.

As you delve into this mob, you realise they are even nuttier than you expected. They are not interested in debate, rational arguments, facts or the rule of law because they believe they are beholden to a higher cause — they believe they are on a mission from god, or more correctly, gaia.

They have been creating merry hell in Brisbane over recent weeks, repeatedly blocking CBD traffic, as they did again today, with stunts such as supergluing themselves to roads, they have also blocked a coal train at the Port of Brisbane and, perhaps inspired by them or encouraged into one-upmanship, Greenpeace protesters pushing similar messages abseiled off the Sydney Harbour Bridge in May.

We need to get used to these tactics and governments and their law enforcement agencies are going to have to adjust their tactics. Queensland opposition leader Deb Frecklington promises to present new laws to tackle these protests and their organisers.

Consider 23-year-old Isabelle Harland who hails from northern NSW and turned up at today’s Brisbane protest. She was arrested last month at a previous protest and has nothing but fond memories of her incarceration.

“I went in knowing I was going to be charged,” she said. “When I was in the cells, I had never felt so peaceful with myself and so free.”

Dancers during the Extinction Rebellion protest. Picture: Liam Kidston
Dancers during the Extinction Rebellion protest. Picture: Liam Kidston

If being locked in a cell is the chosen path to freedom for these anarchists, I say set them all free. It is the only way to prevent them trampling all over the rights of other citizens.

One group of people making a political point should not be allowed to routinely prevent other people from getting to work, visiting their doctor or otherwise going about their law-abiding ways. The arrogance and selfishness of the protesters people is difficult to comprehend. They are so obsessed with their own moral superiority that they believe their virtue-signalling should inconvenience and burden others. They have no manners.

For a bunch of people apparently concerned about the future of the planet they seem to have a total disregard for their fellow humans. Police must arrest them, and courts must impose custodial sentences to either deter their protests, teach them a lessor or, if all else fails, at least prevent them from turning up for more.

The group is barely a year old and originated in London. It wants “citizens’ assemblies” to supersede parliaments.

In Australia they demand the government “take climate action” seemingly ignoring the 26-28 per cent emissions reduction target the nation has signed up to under the Paris agreement, the 23 per cent national renewable energy target, a raft of state and federal renewable energy funds, greenhouse challenges and climate levies and grants. Australian climate action has already cost consumers and governments tens of billions of dollars and will do for decades to come.

Extinction Rebellion protesters face off with police. Picture: AAP
Extinction Rebellion protesters face off with police. Picture: AAP

Yet the protesters demand “action”. Given the direct cost of government grants, the temporary imposition of Labor’s carbon tax, the need for RET investments to be recouped through power prices, direct emissions reduction action funded by taxpayers and the overall affect on electricity prices, there can be no people, surely, who have paid and suffered more in pursuit of climate change goals than the citizens of this country.

Yet the protesters demand “action”. And all too often their inane demands are reported and amplified in the media, unquestioningly. No wonder we are raising children who are fearful and misguided about the planet and their prospects….

How can this complicated debate inform the public if protesters and taxpayer-funded journalists refuse to consider the complexity of the scientific issues and the variety of available policy responses? Are we to pretend the climate didn’t change before we started burning coal? Should we pretend scientists know all there is to know about climate change, natural and anthropogenic? It is ludicrous.

Extinction Rebellion protesters can’t have a sensible discussion about climate change, writes Chris Kenny. Picture: AAP
Extinction Rebellion protesters can’t have a sensible discussion about climate change, writes Chris Kenny. Picture: AAP

The IPCC Synthesis report of 2014 put it this way: “It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in GHG concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together.” This is another way of saying that it is likely anything up to half of the changes in the climate have been caused by other natural variations.

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