Scott Morrison has cut short his Hawaiian holiday to inhale some Sydney air, which is pretty much the only thing the PM will be able to do back home over Christmas and New Year. In politics, perception is reality and Sco-Mo drinking cocktails mid-Pacific while “Australia burns” was arguably bad optics. But it does not mean that the alternatives are any better.
The truth of the matter is that the PM being on the right and those criticising him for the timing of his holiday being on the left, there is quite literally nothing that Morrison could do that would satisfy the climate catastrophists protesting in front of his residence and across the social media.
If Sco-Mo were to volunteer with a rural fire brigade, as his predecessor-but-one, Tony Abbott, used to do and still does, the left would accuse him of trying to win cheap popularity and taking the spotlight off the real heroes, the regular firefighting men and women of Australia.
If Sco-Mo were to travel around where the hot action is, attentively listening to the emergency personnel and nodding his head thoughtfully and with concern, the left would accuse him of staging meaningless photo-ops and getting in the way of people trying to do their jobs.
If Sco-Mo were to promise more resources for firefighting, he would be merely absolving the states of their responsibility for this area. And if he were to argue for more effective fuel clearing or harsher penalties for arsonists, he would be accused of evading “the main issue”.
The only thing that would satisfy the left would be a complete surrender and genuflection to their climate agenda – Sco-Mo announcing the nation-wide “climate emergency”, a continent-sized virtue signal if there ever was one, followed by the adoption of some traditional climate change “solution”, like the 100% by 2030 renewable energy target, an emission trading scheme or a carbon tax – in which case, he would have ceased being a conservative leader in charge of a sensible right-of-centre party and government.
As I have argued here many a time before, all these “solutions” are completely pointless exercises that would have a zero impact on today’s bush fires or tomorrow’s temperatures. This is true even if you accept the current climate change science consensus as completely correct. Nothing that Australia does by itself, in the absence of a concerted global action by the major emitters like China, India, the US and the EU, will make one iota of difference for the global and the local climate. If by some act of magic we were able to go carbon-free and completely green tomorrow, this too, would make no difference for the drought, the fires and the longer term temperature trends. With little over 1 per cent of global emissions, we simply don’t count. And even if we did, China’s emissions are increasing by one Australia every year. Extinction Rebellion should be gluing themselves to the doors of the Chinese embassy in Canberra, and the 13-year old home-grown Greta clone, Isolde Raj-Seppings, should be writing her “how dare you?” in The Guardian in an open letter to President Xi.
All this pantomime of public outrage is just a theatre, and pushing Australia to “do more” to combat climate change is nothing but an exercise in make-believe – in Jane Caro’s words, “at least we’d feel like we are doing something”.
Feeling like you are doing something, without actually doing something, is the perfect reflection of the post-modern alternate reality we all now live in. The Prime Minister is being recalled, in effect. to make a ritual confession of faith and to perform public penance. Personally, I’d rather have the PM fully recover and recharge after one busy year and in time for another, instead of humouring children, Lara Bingle and Tim Minchin (but I repeat myself). Then again, I’m not a very religious person.