Scorcher: Clive Hamilton’s damning new book and Australia’s decade of climate sabotage
Scorcher: the dirty politics of climate change by Clive Hamilton
Published by Black Inc. Books
Released May, 2007
Scorcher could have easily been titled A Staggeringly Large Amount of Very Inconvenient Truths. But that would misrepresent its focus. It would also suggest a rehashing of what is known. The book’s core message is not that climate change is happening, or even how Australia still lags the world in accepting and responding to it.
The message, and the detail, is that Australians have been methodically and deliberately misled, that our government has purposefully sabotaged global action in the name of private interests, and that even now we are being blatantly lied to. Citizens of the world’s largest coal exporter, the highest per capita greenhouse emitters in the world, the developed country slowest to act on global warming – the best excuse for developing countries like India and China not to act and the only US ally in potentially catastrophic delay on real measures that might yet mitigate the worst case scenario.
It’s heartwarming stuff – this damning political chiller – but more likely to induce feelings of clarity, anger, outrage, and sardonic incredulity, than to stir any kind of Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi patriotic fervour.
Noam Chomsky described Hamilton’s 2003 work, Growth Fetish, as ‘right on target and badly needed’ and exactly the same must be said of Scorcher. Different, though, is the pace. Hamilton has a staggering intellect, is a highly respected economist, and is executive director of progressive think tank, The Australia Institute. None of these attributes guarantee pointed commentary or riveting prose, yet this is what he delivers. When I spoke with him about another recent work, Silencing Dissent, he explained it this way;
“If you want a broad audience then you have to write in a way that’s intelligible and entertaining, that people want to read or find enjoyable to read even though, as you say, the subject matter can be disturbing.”
The observation is simple. Translation into practice is not. Yet Scorcher zings along.
The book unearths confidential intelligence documents, disturbingly accurate in their 1981 warnings to the Fraser/Howard government. The book further shines light on John Howard’s servility to the policy-setting Greenhouse Mafia, media complicity, the use of senior federal postings as an interchange bench for Australian coal and uranium lobbyists, and the nature of governmental lies surrounding Kyoto and the emerging effort to smear the agreement as European’.
Hamilton amusingly details how we could let the impactive aluminium industry follow through on their threats to go overseas if we act. His analysis shows how, as a result, the nation could then afford to pay workers $70 000 to stay home, and still come out economically, environmentally, and even globally, in front. And the saying that comedy is tragedy plus timing certainly suits his account of former Environment Minister Ian Campbell’s Global Warming Roadshow.
Hamilton names names, systematically disembowels Howard and Costello’s ‘selective management of truth‘, and leaves no doubt as to the extent and nature of ongoing greenhouse deceit in this country. The cancer of inaction emerges as an unassailable relationship between US and Australian private interests, a handful of overly-connected corporate lobbyists, and governments only interested in generating and promoting ‘data’ that will maintain the lie.
From the book: “It is painful to be a citizen of a nation that could behave in such an immoral way, but the evidence suggests that the Australian Government has deliberately harmed the only real prospect the world has of heading off the catastrophes that climate change is expected to visit on the Earth.”
Crucial’ is a word sometimes too readily applied, but in this year for Australia and at this time in the world, it is one which Scorcher vividly deserves.