His post-election gloat ignores the climate emergency, already affecting Australia, which will catch up with him and his government in the years ahead.
While Canavan ignores the emergency (The Australian, 6 June) I am working with many others to head it off and that includes opposing Gautam Adani’s coal mine while Canavan prepares to subsidise it.
This year’s Townsville flood cost more than one billion dollars which will be paid for by raised insurance premiums for everyone. The flood was heightened by the worldwide burning of coal contributing 40 per cent of the greenhouse gasses now overloading Earth’s atmosphere.
According to Australia’s Climate Council, on current trends, the accumulated loss of wealth due to reduced agricultural and labour productivity as a result of global heating is projected to exceed $19 billion by 2030, $211 billion by 250 and $4 trillion by 2100.
By 2050, global heating is projected to halve the irrigated agricultural output of the Murray-Darling Basin region, which currently accounts for 50 percent of Australia’s irrigated agricultural output by value (about $7.2 billion per year).
That means a 50 percent loss of farms, jobs, shops and service industries within a generation. It would smash the spirit of the Outback.
It is easy to be glib about this. Or simplistic and naive, as Chamberlain was when, less than two years before the outbreak of war with Hitler, he declared ‘peace in our time’ in 1937. A million people milled and danced in the streets of London and all the church bells were ringing as Chamberlain arrived back in town. The ‘doomsayers’ were sidelined.
As then, the reality of today’s threat is already in evidence. Parts of NSW are now in a worse plight than in the millennial drought just a decade ago. More than half of Canavan’s heated Queensland is in drought and the weather predictions are not optimistic. Every very second of every day and night is now one-degree centigrade hotter than a century ago, in large measure due to burning coal. The sea is up 20 centimetres and more acidic.
Canavan is dismissive of the fact that the Great Barrier Reef, already half dead, will be gone later this century - as will that million species the UN warned about last month - if other countries match Australia in annually increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
While the Townsville flood disaster cost three lives, the unprecedented heatwave which struck Melbourne and Adelaide in 2009 cost more than 500 lives. Around the world last year, some 150,000 lives were lost to global heating’s impact including heatwaves, fires, droughts, and storms made more violent by the burning of fossil fuels, in particular coal, and forests.
The Stop Adani Convoy aided the swing to the Greens across Australia, not least in Queensland where a three percent swing bolstered the vote for Senator Larissa Waters.
Canavan also ignores the warm welcome to country the 250 convoyists received from the Wangan and Jagalingou family council, with speeches, dances and didgeridoos as the Sun set gold in the western sky at Clermont Showgrounds. Here are the Traditional Owners, from hundreds of generations of life pre-coal in central Queensland, having to endure this minister trashing their country and souls without hearing them.
On jobs, where is Canavan’s defence of the 8,000 jobs, many in rural Australia, currently being shed by Telstra?
Gautam Adani may have his man in Canavan but, for facing reality and showing concern for the planet, I would sooner listen to Adrian Burragubba and his people.
Health professionals are charting the spread of tropical diseases as the world heats. In May, southerly Rockhampton, Canavan’s city, recorded seven cases of locally-acquired dengue fever - the first for decades. Taxpayers, not the coal industry, are funding this ‘health emergency’.
Canavan is not listening to Australia Institute predictions that if emissions continue to rise, by 2070 the electorate of Capricornia, including Rockhampton’s population of 81,000, is projected to experience:
• Up to twice as many heatwave days per year
• A single heatwave could last up to over 35 days
• A 90-130 percent increase in the frequency of droughts and flooding
• Up to 30 percent increase in evaporation
• Up to 50 percent reduction in rainfall
Let Gautam Adani and Matt Canavan indemnify Australians against the as-yet unmined Galilee Basin coal’s contribution to future coastal erosion, coral death, extinctions, impact on agriculture and tourism, worsening bushfires and more intensive cyclones in Capricornia, if not the rest of the country. That would be putting their money where their mouths are.