Climate change and reaction from an EAAA member

Dr Johannes Bauer is an EAAA member from Oberon who has strong views about climate change as stated in a recent blog. It is reprinted here for your benefit.

Johannes Bauer

Johannes Bauer


Misleading the Australian public in matters climate change by the Abbott Government is getting more serious by the day

Johannes Bauer
Dec, 2014

The stand of the Australian government during G20 was as embarrassing to Australians as was the speech of one of our most revered writers, Richard Flanagan, who, when receiving the Man-Booker price in London confessed to be ashamed of being Australian. How could it be that the people who are supposed to lead us can be so beholden to interests of the fossil fuel lobby and ignore the responsibility Australians have entrusted them with? How can a government pretend to address its responsibilities  by ludicrously outdated, ineffective, childish almost, ‘Direct Action’ schemes, while dismantling highly effective market driven Renewable Energy Schemes and depriving new industries as well as landowners to participate and benefit in the action needed. Even according to the conservative Garnout report, landowners can play an important role in land based carbon sequestration much faster, cheaper and socially beneficial than industrial carbon capture schemes. The latter schemes are mostly benefitting mining companies and are paid by the tax payer.

I have made a case in a previous 4hills essay that this is serious enough for our ‘Duty of Civil Disobedience”, even for a class action against industry and political persons and how the legal environment as it rapidly evolves around Climate Change increasingly supports such liability action (Bauer, 2014. It’s the Money Stupid, 4Hills Essay). We are already seeing an increasing number of actions of this kind, for example in the US, but nowhere are they more justified- and necessary- as here in Australia where an utterly irresponsible government threatens the future of the whole renewable energy industry and much more.

Here, I would like to update the severity of this situation which humanity never faced before, supported by more and more studies, all of them revealing an urgency of serious action. The sentiments of the latest reports released by the German ‘Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research’ (PKI) and UK’s ‘Overseas Development Institute’ (ODI) and commissioned by World Bank are echoed around the world, and also by Australian research institutions, like CSIRO, GBRMA (Great Barrier Reef Management Authority) and ANU, although they are increasingly prevented from speaking up, often by scientists losing their job.

This whole situation is increasingly unworthy of a country which uses every opportunity it can find to profess to “world leadership’ and ‘Best Management Practice”. Nothing could be further from the truth: much in Australian land management is increasingly based on an almost meaningless and compromised (if lucrative) Environmental Impact Compliance Culture, and Land Agencies, which advice the public wrongly whether in weed management or in forestry matters.  Australia is sliding into ‘splendid isolation’ as it muffles its own dissenting scientists and more informed voices with a careless arrogance.

Australians have to ask themselves the question whether ‘she’ll be right mate’ is the right attitude as to what happens to the world’s climate and as to what our ‘leaders’ do about it. This is not a ‘challenge’ for future generations as our economists/politicians like to put it, but the biggest threat we have ever faced and which dwarves (and amplifies) all the other ones we have created. This is about setting the pathways for a future economy that moves away from fossil carbon as energy source. It is about setting policies for and seriously investing into energy projects to uncouple economic growth from fossil carbon now, as Haiti, Germany, the US, China and a growing number of countries do. It is about not letting your own country drown in apathy and cynicism as this government with its systematic campaign of misinformation has done. We must choose now if we want to commit our limited public funds for the next 25 years into infrastructure for fossil or renewable energy. We also must decide now whether we want to muddle on in ‘splendid isolation’ or join the world in action.

Action on climate change that comes from the bottom up requires political leadership supporting it, not preventing it. An obsession with research, driven by inconsistent and counterproductive grant schemes and a full conscription to the hype of an untrustworthy corporate sector, has blinded Australian governments to their responsibilities to the wider community and to landowners in particular.

These are poorly advised in land management by underfunded, highly politicised and hardly functional government agencies and prevented from braking a cycle of indoctrination in poor and outdated environmental practice by political coercion. In matters of a credible response to climate change, a situation, which is still denied by many of the leading politicians in Canberra, it is clearly entirely insufficient to respond to the magnitude of the scale and the urgency of EFFECTIVE action.

Not enough is being done around the world. But in comparison to what happens here in Australia, a lot happens, and Australians hardly know about it as they are confused and misinformed by their own government. Unbeknownst to many Australians a mobilisation currently occurs, which, slowly but surely, wakes up to that gigantic threat to human society and acts! Australia under its present leadership has chosen to stay apart from this action and nowhere has this become more evident as by the bewilderment of the leaders of the two most powerful nations on Earth, the US and China. They have, because they owed it to their people and acknowledged the science behind that stark message, chosen to lead and not to stand apart any longer. Where will that leave Australia, whose leaders seem proud to dismantle our future and celebrate fossil fuel dependency at a time when to invest in fossil fuels is being advised against by the world’s leading financial institutions?

It is likely that the federal government will be sending a poorly prepared, politically indoctrinated group of junior delegates to the 20th Conference of Parties (COP 20) of UNFCCC in Lima, Peru. {This was compiled when the above was the likelihood}.  This is just as well because it will hardly contribute.  Yet this is no minor event like the much hyped G20 meeting in Brisbane, where political posturing of our leaders made an embarrassing farce of whatever serious content there was. In the negotiations in Lima the future of the world might well be decided. Should it be a future where we tell our children: sorry not much left for you we needed that to pursue our increasingly wasteful and empty ‘wealth creation’  or should it be a future which is more just and where the environment of our planet Earth, can support a more happy and just humanity. The choice is ours!


Dr Johannes Bauer
Independent Scientist
4Hills, NSW
27 November, 2014

About the author:

Johannes Bauer, born in southern Germany has been a resident in Australia since 1991 when he and his family moved to their farm in Australia. With a PhD in Biology and an MSc in Forestry from Freiburg University, Germany, he has worked for FAO, directed German and European wildlife institutions, been Chief Technical Advisor of UN-REDD (Reduction of Emissions through Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and taught and researched at Australian Universities in many aspects of environmental science, policy and management.

Johnanes has restored 300 hectares of badly degraded sheep property into a diverse, productive, and valuable, native forest system. This system, apart from having become home again for abundant wildlife including several endangered species, is also  sequestering 2000-4000 tonnes C02/annum into biologically active carbon, without extensive (and dysfunctional) plantation schemes and working WITH, not against the environment and ecological principles.

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