Hysteria is not the solution

By John Lewis

During the next few weeks, The News will run a series of interviews with community leaders about their views on climate change.

We asked four questions:

1: What is your position on global warming and climate change?

2: Are we doing enough to mitigate the impact of climate change in the region?

3: Do community and business leaders have a role in advocating for more action, and positioning our region to take advantage of emerging opportunities?

4: What is your number one priority to help mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Today we feature the responses of Toolamba orchardist Peter Hall.

What is your position?

If you are asking “does human activity change global temperatures?” Yes.

Is the change significant or potentially harmful? That’s very difficult to determine. Temperatures have only been measured accurately for the past 150 years and even these records have been subject to revision.

Trends in average global temperature take long periods to establish and be observed. The last trend is believed to be a mini ice age from 1500 to 1850 and fortunately was arrested. It’s troubling that people have politicised climate data and make outrageous claims about the end of the Earth or conversely suggest that there is nothing to see here. It’s very difficult to have confidence in arguments for climate change when activists wrongly connect climate change to all sorts of ills, the latest, sadly, being bushfires, to force governments to make policy changes that affect ordinary people’s lives. Fear and scaremongering are not useful in getting to the bottom of such a complicated debate that contrary to those who want to stifle discussion, is still an open one for me.

Are we doing enough?

It depends on what you see as “impacts” and what interpretation you put on climate records. Take my industry, horticulture, for example. If the temperature rises slightly, there are many places in the world where fruit is grown in similar climates. Farmers by definition manage weather changes and will develop and respond to any trends as a matter of course. The bigger question is how do we mitigate the impact of “climate change hysteria”? My greatest concern is that such a falsely negative view of future farming in the GV is promoted through hysterical claims of the climate changing so much that investment in one of the cleanest and greenest food production regions in the world dries up.

Do community and business leaders have a role?

Community leaders should advocate for action to fortify the agricultural base that the GV is built on. The greatest challenge we as a community face is not whether temperatures rise by a degree but that government policy is not hijacked by crazy demands that remove irrigation water and or undermine the availability of power for critical industries. This is usually where these issues end up.

Activists persuade governments to make fundamental changes to key resources’ availability and cost under the pretence of an emergency and people's livelihoods suffer or worse, whole communities become unviable.

I would perhaps be more persuaded if the claimed 50 per cent-plus of Australians who are demanding action led the way. Ditch your car, air conditioners and electronic equipment and maybe you would be more convincing. It’s hard to see a climate emergency when those demanding change want everyone else to bear the cost. The reality is, contrary to emotional demands, there is nothing, even on a national level, we could do to affect climate change. Australia makes too small a contribution to any of the supposed climate change causes. Token action while making you feel good won’t move any of the metrics, but causes a lot of pointless pain for the punters.

What is your number one priority?

If the climate changes, the answer to challenges of that nature are found in science and technology research. Man has proven to be very adept at solving issues that have confronted him. My priority would be to promote the study of science and mathematics in our schools. As recently pointed out, achievement in maths and science in our national school system is falling behind the rest of the world.

This should be a genuine cause for alarm! If climate change lives up to even its most extreme claims, then I am more than confident in man’s creativity and capacity to find solutions. This would be a real opportunity, to harness the minds of our young people and give them the technical tools to solve not only this, if it’s an issue, but many of the other challenges the world faces that will increasingly require technical solutions.

Read other community leaders views on climate change:

Prepare now for climate change - David McKenzie

Time to step up and tackle climate change - Peter Quinn

We must tackle climate change - Suzanna Sheed

Our actions are changing the climate - Helen Reynolds