21/09/2011 - 10:47

Change is not always for the better

21/09/2011 - 10:47


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A new report has taken climate change phobia to an absurd new level.

UNTIL recently I hadn’t heard of Professor Ian Hickie or Sydney’s Brain & Mind Research Institute.

One evening a fortnight ago, however, I was listening to ABC radio, when the announcer introduced Professor Hickie, saying a report he’d released claimed to draw ‘a direct link between inaction on climate change and long-term social and mental problems’.

Until this point I’d thought I had encountered all the outrageous global heating hoax-related claims, including that really bizarre one by Tim Flannery, who’s now earning at the rate of $300,000 annually as the Gillard government’s climate change commissioner.

Several years ago, Professor Flannery claimed Perth would become like Timbuktu – an oasis – surrounded by vast deserts due to the severity of climate change.

My immediate reaction was that such a claim was likely to end his career as a valued commentator.

To my surprise, the opposite happened. Soon after came his meteoric rise to ever-greater fame, plus, of course, fortune.

We seem to have reached the point where the more unbelievable one’s remarks, the greater the rewards.

It certainly looks as if Ian Hickie has noticed this.

According to the ABC’s internet blurb, Professor Hickie’s study, titled ‘A Climate Of Suffering: The Real Cost Of Living With Inaction On Climate Change’, points to increased depression, anxiety, substance abuse, suicide and self-harm in the wake of recent natural disasters in Australia.

He’d launched this report in Sydney, and apparently without blushing, claimed regional and remote communities were most vulnerable to the impact of climate change.

Now look; this is damn serious stuff. It could cost taxpayers billions annually because it may become the thin end of the wedge for a vast new range of pensions and benefits, due to the emergence of previously unknown ailments.

Think about it: climate change disability pensions could be on the way, where the ostensibly afflicted qualify for benefits well above those drawn by Australia’s present 800,000 or so disability pensioners.

There could also be climate change sick leave, with employers meeting the cost, via a special climate change levy of course.

Imagine, you reach work on Monday and the boss says half the staff has called in claiming their climate change anxieties were so acute they’re needing a fortnight’s climate change leave.

GPs’ surgeries will be overflowing with patients awaiting diagnosis for suspected ‘climate change-itus’.

Special psychiatric wards will be needed at major hospitals for those showing symptoms of the afflictions Professor Hickie has identified.

He may even win a Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering this never-before-known ailment, which could end up affecting humanity worldwide.

The dire consequences, and costs, are limitless.

Professor Hickie and his Brain & Mind Research Institute may well put Australian medical research on the map.

On pondering such possibilities I couldn’t help casting my mind back to my family’s dogged perseverance through the climate change they’d endured after disembarking at Fremantle in March 1950.

The first thing they noticed when travelling by train from Fremantle to Northam’s Holden Migrant Camp was the Mundaring-to-Goldfields pipeline alongside the railway track.

Imagine the shock and anxiety.

Thankfully a conductor guessed what was baffling them: ‘What’s in that pipe? Why’s it there?’

They were utterly amazed to hear it was water. 

They were stunned. This, for them was, you guessed it, climate change with a vengeance.

Remember, my parents hailed from Poland, which had and continues to have frigid winters and warm to mild summers.

Not only had neither ever seen a pipeline; one carrying water was incomprehensible.

They concluded they were heading for somewhere like Timbuktu.

As assisted migrants, the male of every family had to work for two years wherever the WA government assigned them, and so considerable anxiety ensued about the family’s destination and conditions.

I certainly can’t recall any resultant substance abuse, apart from resorting to the occasional aspirin. Suicide and self-harm never arose.

Then came living in a WA Government Railways-issued tent for two years in Wyalkatchem, another unexpected novelty.

No air-conditioning, not even a fan, as there was no electricity in railway camps then. So no refrigerator, only a Coolgardie Freezer, communal camp bathroom, and one communal tap for the entire 12-family camp.

All these and more were new things, if nothing else, that certainly made life different to what they’d been accustomed to in depressed 1920s, 1930s, and the vicious early 1940s of Nazism they’d endured in their occupied homeland.

My mother worked as a hospital and later hotel cook, so endured long summer hours standing over big wood-fired stoves. My father toiled for 20 years on the railway track, during hot central Wheatbelt summers, mild winters, autumns and springs.

Let’s, however, cast our minds back further, to 1836, when two of my wife’s ancestors, a father and son, both Robert Buck, reached what’s now Adelaide aboard HMS Rapid, having been volunteer seamen on Colonel William Light’s pioneering vessel.

They’d hailed from London, where the weather was generally mild, except over the years 1798-1822, called the ‘Dalton Minimum’, when winters were frigid, something real climate scientists currently predict will re-occur in coming years.

The sun was inactive over that quarter century since it passed through what real climate scientists call Solar Cycles 5 and 6.

In 1814, temperatures fell so markedly the River Thames froze over, as it had done in 1795.

In fact, from 1400 into the 19th century, there were 24 winters during which the Thames is recorded as having frozen over at London.

Freezes, it shouldn’t be forgotten, also occurred in 1963, 1953, 1947 (the coldest February ever), 1940, 1895-6, 1893, 1880, 1857.

Britain’s last three winters haven’t exactly been mild.

Don’t forget that frigid one that immediately followed the December 2009 Climate Change Conference at Copenhagen. 

This year’s European summer has been the coolest in 20 years.

Notwithstanding all that, the Buck males worked doggedly in Adelaide’s hot dry summers and within two years the former’s wife and children followed. 

He paid their passages.

None of the Bucks appears to have had any regrets about coming to a warmer and much drier country.

And to the best of my wife’s knowledge, none endured any greater anxiety than they would have if they stayed in London.

I don’t know – and don’t really wish to know – if taxpayers paid for Professor Hickie’s report. I certainly hope not.

And I don’t want to know if its release qualifies his institute for extra millions from the Gillard government’s generosity towards those promoting her CO2 taxing crusade.

What I do know is the forebears of the two families I’m associated with, who reached this continent last century and the one previous, most certainly endured climate change by merely sailing from one hemisphere into another.

But it never stopped them demonstrating the best qualities of all pioneers in the ‘sunburned country’.

Perhaps Professor Hickie should read a few history books about Australian pioneering life.

If not so inclined, he could look back at his ancestors’ letters and contemplate what his forebears endured.

I’m sure he’ll quickly discover nothing whatsoever has changed, except that our politicians and others have become more gullible.


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