It seems there’s very little that humanity cannot achieve when we put our mind to it. In the past 100 years we’ve landed on the moon, created a global information superhighway, and crossbred poodles with every animal we could get our hands on. Our greatest achievement yet, however, may be the dedication we have shown to destroying our planet.

By Sami Shah.

IPCC you

It seems there’s very little that humanity cannot achieve when we put our mind to it. In the past 100 years we’ve landed on the moon, created a global information superhighway, and crossbred poodles with every animal we could get our hands on. Our greatest achievement yet, however, may be the dedication we have shown to destroying our planet.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, we’ve released almost as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere in 30 years as humans did throughout their entire existence up until 1990. It’s a remarkable report, unequivocally laying the blame for climate change at the feet of humanity, and the science behind it is unquestionable. Unless, of course, you can earn some money from the mining and fossil fuel industries, in which case it’s all made up and things are great, just ignore those rising oceans and burning forests.

Every nation has had to consider its response to the IPCC report, and nowhere is that leadership more evident than in Australia. By which I mean, the leadership in Australia is nowhere to be seen. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has made it clear he doesn’t think formulating a plan for net-zero emissions is the government’s responsibility. Perhaps the government’s time is better spent trying to decipher the garbled metaphors he delivers in parliament while growing increasingly red in the face.

When asked by Fran Kelly on the ABC’s RN Breakfast whether he has looked at the cost of inaction, the father of five children doomed to grow up in a world on fire responded, “If that’s the issue, if you have a carte blanche, and it doesn’t matter, then we really can go back to saying anything, anything is allowed.” The scientific community has diverted valuable resources to trying to understand that sentence.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, meanwhile, has blamed our doomed future on poorer countries, which is in line with Hillsong Church’s subscription to the prosperity gospel. According to the belief, wealth is a sign of godliness, and the suffering of the poor is their own fault. Which is exactly the kind of philosophy you’d think a church founded by a guy named “Brian” would have.

When applied to climate change, the gospel can be expanded to poor countries being blamed for their miseries, while rich countries are to be rewarded for their lack of miseries.

The poorer countries have yet to respond to his finger pointing, possibly with a pointed finger of their own, because they’re too busy suffering from the poverty that comes with god’s displeasure.

Laborious Labor

Labor has managed to achieve a remarkable victory in the latest Newspoll, holding on to its 53-47 lead over the Coalition. For the party in opposition, this is likely to cause all kinds of sombre considerations to arise, most of which will be focused on how to lose that lead. It’s been so long since Labor won a federal election, they might have grown addicted to the comfort of serving as a gently cajoling opposition party.

Fortunately, they’ve already begun putting in the effort required to lose the advantage, withdrawing support for an amendment that would have seen greater accountability for businesses that recorded profits while guzzling JobKeeper.

At least $4.6 billion went to businesses whose profits went up last year, and independent senator Rex Patrick successfully amended government legislation for new financial support to include a requirement that all companies that earned more than $10 million while on JobKeeper be named. On Monday, Labor voted with the government in the senate to defeat the change, perhaps forgetting it wasn’t already in government and thus doesn’t actually have to start cuddling up to Gerry Harvey just yet.

Senator Jacqui Lambie attacked Labor for its capitulation. “You are supposed to be the opposition. God, you’ve been doing it for eight years! No wonder you’re still there,” she said. It’s a cruel and insensitive attack on the Labor Party that doesn’t take into account how difficult it is to be an opposition party while not knowing the meaning of “opposition”.

Labor has defended its decision by reminding everyone how cunning its strategy is of seeming useless, acting useless and
being useless.

Meanwhile, the federal government has celebrated by sending more than 11,000 people debt letters from Centrelink, just to relive the good old days of robo-debt, while having its shoulders massaged by Labor.

CNN: Christensen News Network

Australia’s unofficial ambassador to the Philippines and Thailand has unveiled plans for his post-parliament life.

Nationals MP George Christensen recently raised controversy by giving a speech in parliament decrying restrictions and masks, possibly to make up for the shortfall on conspiratorial pseudo-science created by Sky News social media managers furiously scrubbing their archives. The rant has been removed from George Christensen’s Facebook page by Facebook, but is still visible on YouTube, where it has garnered several thousand views. Comments under the video describe Christensen as a “legend”, possibly because people want him to only be heard of in a long-forgotten story.

Barnaby Joyce has taken time out of saying the government can’t do anything about climate change to tell us he can’t do anything about his rogue MP. “He is a free individual, he can say what he likes,” Joyce says.

Perhaps inspired by his YouTube success, Christensen has announced he’ll launch a news website that has a “pro-freedom, patriotic and conservative agenda”.

Blatant self-promotion

This is the last Gadfly column. It’s been an absolute privilege to grab a baton flung at me by Richard Ackland, who gave it up to enjoy what little was left of his sanity after having to consider the ugliness of Australia’s political class. It’s a reprieve I should take as well, but I worry it may be too late for me.

A country so great, ruled by politicians so utterly mediocre? For a satirist, that is a siren’s song.

The column will continue, both in print and as a podcast, at patreon.com/samishah.

It will probably have a new name, but will maintain the same contempt for politics, grammar and delicate sensibilities.

Thank you to everyone who appreciated my turn as Gadfly; your kind words healed the wounds created by reading about parliament. 

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on August 14, 2021 as "Gadfly: IPCC you".

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Sami Shah is a multi-award-winning comedian, writer and journalist.

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