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The Greens: illogical and treacherous

24, May 2008

Peter Ridd

The 2020 summit exposed the hypocritical, illogical and treacherous nature of most people in the modern green movement. It has been hijacked by a quasi religious ideology which makes it ineffective at solving the big problems we face. The environment is suffering as a result.

At the summit there was a session devoted to “Population, Sustainability, Climate change, Water and the Future of our Cities”. The summit was always only going to advocate consensus positions rather than truly radical and innovative ideas, but one would have expected the greens would agree that unrestricted population growth is something that we should avoid. The impacts of Australia’s population growth (equivalent to building a city the size of Canberra every year) are totally obvious on the fringes of all our cities as more and bushland gets cleared for houses. The effect on our water supplies of growing populations is progressively more water restrictions and more dams. Problems associated with pollution, greenhouse emissions and habitat loss are all made worse with larger populations.

For Australia, our population growth is largely driven by very high immigration rates but has also been pushed upwards by a rise in birth rates, possibly stimulated by the baby bonus. Both factors affecting our population growth are able to be either controlled or influenced by government policy.

I was naively hoping that the first line of the declaration from the 2020 group would be:

In order to reduce the environmental footprint of Australia’s population, the Government must set immigration and other policies to arrest the growth of our population by 2020.

What did we get?

Australia will have a population policy, and immigration program that works truly in the national interest and that is a model for the world.

This statement is a typical example of obfuscatory word play. It will be taken to mean whatever people want it to mean. The “left” wing could interpret it to mean that we should take in unrestricted numbers of refugees as if we have an obligation to the world to fill up our open spaces (and natural environment) with more houses. Or maybe it will be used as a front for the construction industry that feeds off building houses on farmland and virgin bush. Without talking about numbers, the statement is of no value whatsoever.

In reality it is just another cop-out by the green movement. At the 2020 summit, they used their standard argument that it is only necessary to reduce per capita consumption. However they seem unable to realise that with continued population growth, all must ultimately be lost. Our population will double by 2050 and double again by the end of the century when at present rates our population will be pushing 100 million. The mathematics of exponential growth are merciless. How are we to reduce per capita consumption by such a large factor?

The greens nowadays are less of an environmental movement and more of an extreme left wing conglomeration devoted primarily to social justice issues.

They cannot bear to contemplate reducing immigration, and those greens that do are simply branded racists. They opposed the Howard government on its immigration initiatives such as mandatory detention and off-shore processing of refugees, but they de facto agreed with the increase in immigrant numbers during the Howard years. These left wing attitudes do not rest easily with a pro-environment policy to restrict immigration. In the end their dedication to social engineering trumps the environment any day.

Immigration and population are not the only areas where the greens are more concerned with their idea of social justice than the environment. They berate the Japanese for killing whales but the same organisations such as the ACF and Wilderness Society or the Green party have no trouble with allowing, in fact encouraging, the Aboriginal killing of the far more endangered dugong in Australia. The cassowary population in Iron Range is near extinction because of “traditional” hunting. The greens say nothing.

Both the Japanese and Aboriginal groups use the argument that it is part of their culture to kill these animals. Both now use modern technology rather than a wooden boat and spear to kill. Both groups should desist. But, the greens cannot bear to tell Indigenous people they should not hunt. They would prefer to pretend that Aboriginal people will naturally look after the environment.

The greens’ sense of guilt at past injustices perpetrated on Aboriginal people makes them betray the cause to which they are supposed to be committed.

The greens have long been illogical and treacherous about population and Indigenous hunting, but it is with regards to biofuels that they betray even their own warped ideals.

The greens tell us that ethanol from maize, wheat or sugar, and biodiesel from palm oil is somehow more environmentally friendly than oil from oil wells. Never mind that it was obvious from the beginning that the result of the push for biofuel would be the starvation of a few million Africans and Central Americans due to the use of maize to make ethanol; not to mention the mass clearance of rainforest to make way for palm oil plantations.

The penny has finally dropped regarding biofuels and governments are now asking some hard questions about whether subsidies should continue. Nevertheless the greens must be held responsible for their lack of logic that has encouraged the burning of food to power Toorak tanks.

On other more complicated issues it is not the just the greens’ lack of logic that is the problem, it is their unwillingness to engage in any genuine debate. They often will simply resort to questioning the motives of those that oppose them. I favour the use of nuclear power because it is environmentally friendly and I am regularly labelled as a front for the uranium miners. If one is in favour of geo-sequestration of CO2 from coal then you must automatically be in the pay of the coal industry.

In short the green movement is no longer a defender of environmental conservation, of the flora and fauna. Their lack of logic and policies which are clearly deleterious to the natural environment mean that they now do more harm than good. It is time for the green movement to cease its emphasis on fashionable social ideas and put the natural environment first. They must move from a reliance on unverifiable ideas in social science to a dependence on the verifiable real sciences.

About the Author

Peter Ridd is a Reader in Physics at James Cook University specialising in Marine Physics. He is also a scientific adviser to the Australian Environment Foundation.


Published in On Line Opinion 12 May 2008

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