How global Warming Became Political Poison

  • Date: 01/02/11

The chic World Economic Forum at Davos once considered global warming the greatest of threats to the planet:

“We are getting huge demand from our members to place climate change and issues of environmental security at the very heart of the programme,” said Dominic Waughray, head of environmental initiatives at the World Economic Forum (WEF).

But now it considers global warming so yesterday:

Wesfarmers chief executive Richard Goyder told The Australian at the Swiss ski resort of Davos at the weekend … (he) was struck by how climate change had taken a back seat at Davos to concerns about water scarcity and food security as the big emerging market economies drove global growth.

How can an existential threat to humanity suddenly become too boring for words? Impossible, unless it never was really a big threat to start with.

How else to interpret the abrupt lack of interest in planet-saving at not just Davos but almost every big political occasion? Take Barack Obama’s State of the Union address last week:

Barack Obama has paid less attention to climate change in his State of the Union addresses than any other president in the past 20 years, an analysis by a British researcher has found. Obama made no mention of the words climate change, global warming or environment in his hour-long speech on Tuesday night…. Take the campaign launches of Australian Prime Ministers:

Number of words that Kevin Rudd devoted in his 2007 campaign launch speech to tackling global warming, the “great moral, environmental and economic challenge of our age”: –


Number of words that Julia Gillard devoted in her 2010 campaign launch speech to tackling global warming, “a profound challenge for all of us”: – 


Take the speech of the British Prime Minister to his party’s annual conference:

Commenting on David Cameron’s speech to the Conservative Party conference today, Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said: “With not a mention of climate change, this was not the speech we would have expected from the Prime Minister of the self-declared ‘greenest Government ever’.

Something doesn’t compute. Either the politicians were recklessly beating up the climate scare before, or they’re recklessly playing down the danger now. Shouldn’t they tell us which?


Mind you, some people at Davos were still banging the drum – especially those who’d gain power themselves by choking not just Western gasses but Western autonomy:

The world’s current economic model is an environmental “global suicide pact” that will result in disaster if it isn’t reformed, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, warned today.

Ban said that political and business leaders need to embrace economic innovation in order to save the planet.

“We need a revolution,” he told a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on how best to make the global economy sustainable. “Climate change is also showing us that the old model is more than obsolete.”

He called the current economic model a recipe for “national disaster” and said: “We are running out of time. Time to tackle climate change, time to ensure sustainable … growth.”

Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun, 31 January 2011

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