A second member of the Australian Government, Deputy Leader of the Nationals NSW Senator Fiona Nash, has declared climate science is not settled and articulated on the need to adapt. This follows a statement by Attorney General George Brandis in the Senate on Tuesday that climate science was not settled.
Senator Nash is responsible for regional development, communications and health. She told Sky News interviewer David Speers there were "varying views" on climate science and she was of the opinion it was still up for debate, but that we need to adapt.
This comes as Great Barrier Reef Coral Bleaching prompted Australian Environment Ministers to have an emergency phone hook up and heated debate. At the end they called for strong and urgent action needed on climate change.
David Speers: Also this week your colleague George Brandis said on climate change: "It doen't seem to me that the science to be settled at all". Do you think it is settled?
Fiona Nash: "I think there are varying views on whether it is settled or not. What I am really focussed on, again as a farmer, is that climate is changing and we have to be able to adapt.
"That is why I think Australian farmers are so fantastic because they are really innovative, they're efficient, they're productive and they are able to change their farming practices, to move if you like when climate is changing."
David Speers: You are right, people do have different views on this. As a Cabinet Minister what is your view on this? Is it settled? The Science?
Fiona Nash: I don't think it is necessarily settled, but I think we should certainly be taking every precaution possible to ensure the planet is healthy, I think.
David Speers: So the insurance approach.
Fiona Nash: Mmm (Nods her head)
David Speers: Do you think that is a widespread view in cabinet?
Fiona Nash: I think you would have to ask other cabinet ministers.
A true insurance, or risk management approach, would have us heavily focussed on reducing our emissions rapidly, instead of saying we need to just adapt. The basic climate science and temperature trends have been known and communicated for over 35 years. Even Exxon knew, but then proceeded to lie and fund climate denial.
But action to reduce Australia's emissions is something this Government has inherently failed to do. Direct Action has been a disaster with emissions from land clearing wiping out the small gains made.
Our annual Greenhouse Gas Inventory report released on Christmas Eve shows our total Greenhouse Gas emissions rising by 1.3 per cent to June 2015, and our electricity sector emissions rising by 3 per cent. A market report by Reputex estimates emissions growing to 4 per cent above 2000 levels by 2020 and that trend continuing with Australian emissions unlikely to peak before 2030. (See my February article: With rising emissions Australia applies Kyoto credits to meet 2020 climate target)
But it is clear that Nash has her head in the sand.
We are on track for 4 to 5 degrees warming by the end of the century and at those global temperatures adaptation would be impossible for a range of activities, including farming and food production in certain regions. Even with the signing of the Paris Agreement and if all climate plans presently on the table are implememented (and that is a big assumption with many having conditional requirements), that would still leave about 3.5C temperature by the end of the century.
Let me remind Fiona Nash what the prestigous Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said in their 2012 report (which I reported on) about whether we could adapt to 4 or 6 degrees of global warming this century:
Thus, given that uncertainty remains about the full nature and scale of impacts, there is also no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C world is possible. A 4°C world is likely to be one in which communities, cities and countries would experience severe disruptions, damage, and dislocation, with many of these risks spread unequally. It is likely that the poor will suffer most and the global community could become more fractured, and unequal than today. The projected 4°C warming simply must not be allowed to occur--the heat must be turned down. Only early, cooperative, international actions can make that happen.
Adaptation is simply not good enough. There needs to be no new coal mines and a rapid phase down in coal production, a rapid across the board reduction in emissions through conversion of our energy and transportation system with renewables, a reversal in land clearing (and the resulting emissions) and increase afforestation to provide carbon absorption in natural carbon sinks. Coastal and marine environment needs to be managed to restore river wetlands and estuary health, saltbush, mangroves and seagrass to increase opportunities for blue carbon.
The government she is a part of have abolished carbon pricing which was providing a market mechanism for reducing energy emissions and promoting renewables. Her government has presided over bushfires of increasing intensity and frequency and starting much later with the fire season prolonged further. The Great Barrier Reef has suffered 93 per cent coral reef bleaching this year due to climate change.
You can watch the David Speers interview with Senator Fiona Nash at Skynews: Senator agrees climate science 'not settled'
What they are saying on twitter:
Fiona Nash: I don't think (climate change science) necessarily settled... But we should be taking every precaution possible #SpeersTonight— David Speers (@David_Speers) April 21, 2016
It was George Brandis on Tues, today Fiona Nash is questioning the science on climate change. Turnbull is leading a party of CC deniers.— Mark Butler MP (@Mark_Butler_MP) April 22, 2016
Yep, it's another science isn't settled kind of day. Fiona Nash's opinion that climate science still up for debate. https://t.co/Fbys4CO1jK— Sophie Lewis (@aviandelights) April 21, 2016
Scientists on Thursday: CLIMATE CATASTROPHE IS UNFOLDING RIGHT NOW— Major Tom (@mrtomhartney) April 22, 2016
Fiona Nash on Friday: "I don't think the science is necessarily settled"