Shorten's cult-like belief overshadows debate

May 10, 2019

According to Labor and the Greens, climate change is fundamentally a moral issue. That, they say, means there is no need to cost their policies, which must simply be accepted as the right thing to do.

The Conservative Party has already called out the whole myth of fighting climate change as a dangerous cult saying nothing we do to mitigate climate change can make any appreciable difference to the world's climate. 

The Australian reports, whether there is a moral aspect to climate change that sets it apart from other policies is debatable. But even if there were, the claim that the consequences of moral choices should not be properly analysed is patently absurd.

After all, nothing could be less moral than to take a decision without having squarely faced up to its likely effects. And nothing could be further from democratic leadership than to refuse to even assess those effects, as if it really didn’t matter whether the damage a policy causes will be great or small.

To say that is not to deny the crucial role of values in framing social ends. But just as it is the essence of demagogy to pretend that gain can be obtained without pain, so the appeal to a morality that somehow makes a careful consideration of consequences ­irrelevant is the hallmark of ­fanaticism, which invariably dismisses the damage it wreaks as mere detritus on the path to ­salvation.

Unfortunately, it is that combination of demagogy and fanaticism that increasingly dominates the Australian scene. Never has that been clearer than in the attacks on climate economist Brian Fisher whose analysis concluded that Labor's climate alarmist policies could cost the Australian economy more than $1 trillion.

The attacks which began by impugning the integrity of one of Australia’s foremost environmental economists, rapidly escalated into vandalism against his home.

Viewed through the lens of those emotions, Fisher is not merely wrong: he is a heretic. And as we have seen time and again, the punishment these champions of tolerance would administer for heresy is excommunication and social death.

It is, under those circumstances, unsurprising that climate change policy has degenerated into a war of religion, contributing to a broader mood in which zealots feel justified in resorting to lawlessness and intimidation.

And it is unsurprising, too, that today’s atmosphere so closely resembles that which the great Anglican minister Richard Allestree, writing in the midst of the religious conflicts of the 17th century, called a “vindictive age”, whose distinguishing feature was that it had degraded speech from “the storehouse of relief and the aid of human society” into a mere instrument of “insulting vice”.

The immediate effect is that Labor, which still claims to act responsibly, has turned its back on reason — a term whose very origins lie in the Greek word for to count and calculate, and on the basis of counting and calculating, to think and explain.

Once those are banished as tedious obstacles to action, it is not hard to see why climate policy would be determined by whatever a 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirl considers the burning moral imperative of the day.

To read Henry Ergas' full article, click here.

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