Over the last couple of weeks Australia’s coalition government have branded Labor and the Greens as having “an ideological hatred of coal.”
According to the Oxford dictionary, the definition of Ideology is “A system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.”
Throughout history humankind has wondered why things are. Isaac Newton wondered why the apple fell to the ground. Christopher Columbus wondered that if he sailed west to reach India from Spain he wouldn’t sail off the edge of the world, because perhaps the world was round. Columbus may have been labelled as having an “ideological belief that the earth is round” before his famous trip. But then he slayed the labeling of this as an ideology by sailing west from Spain and not falling off the edge of the earth, but instead landing in the Americas. He replaced ideology with scientific fact.
There is irrefutable proof our planet is warming, as shown by the mean surface temperature record.
An enormous amount of effort has gone into trying to figure out why the planet is warming, and the vast majority of scientists who have exerted this effort have identified that it is due to human activity, principally the combustion of fossil fuels, of which coal is one of the largest contributors. Back when Svante Arrhenius did his calculations on this 120 years ago he may have been dismissed as an ideologue. But now he is seen as prescient. The science is established.
It is the Liberal/National coalition who are the ideologues now. They know the climate is changing, they don’t deny the temperature records smashed over the last couple of weeks, or the many thousands of thermometers around the world showing mean global surface temperature increasing. Yet by referring to those who don’t support more coal fired power as ideologues they adopt a superstitious approach that the climate science must be wrong. Something else must be causing the warming. By inference their support of coal means they reject the science and the calls for urgent action to cut emissions.
Supporters of fossil fuels rightly argue that wind and solar energy is intermittent, and that there is need for back up generation. But coal is not a good solution, with high emissions per kWh produced. Dealing with intermittency of renewables is tremendously challenging – but lets take this challenge in a good way. For example something that can contribute to enabling renewable energy is demand management and demand response – shaping demand to match supply.
Like witch doctors they come into parliament with strange coal rituals, demonising, taunting and ridiculing those who believe in science and not superstition. Who else but an ideologue would come into parliament to brandish and worship a lump of coal – something that scientist after scientist has linked to global warming?