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Media release: World War II effort needed against climate change

Tackling climate change will require a massive global effort, says leading commentator Robert Manne.

ABC Radio

ABC Radio's John Cleary, Professor Robert Manne and Archbishop Philip Freier

November 11 2015The fight against climate change will need a global effort greater than World War II, according to leading commentator Robert Manne.

He said the task was made more difficult by denialists in English-speaking countries, in a conversation with Melbourne Anglican Archbishop Philip Freier on the social and political obstacles to tackling climate change.

Professor Manne said that as soon as climate scientists reached a consensus in the early 1990s big corporations and right-wing think tanks in the United States began working to undermine it.

“The Republican Party is almost 100 per cent sceptic, which is putting the planet in peril,” he said in the conversation, chaired by ABC Radio’s John Cleary, at Melbourne’s Federation Square on Wednesday morning. “They see it as a conspiracy by scientists to create a world government.

“The most grotesque aspect of modern capitalism is that no nation state has stood up to the multinationals and said ‘you will not go on searching for something that will destroy the planet (fossil fuels)’,” Professor Manne said.

He said the recent encyclical on climate change by Pope Francis was the most important intervention since Al Gore, but much deeper. The Pope called for a cultural revolution in the relationship between humans and the natural world.

Dr Freier said it was a curious paradox of the climate change debate that the more information people acquired the more they became confirmed in their views.  He said the short political cycle worked against an intelligent long-term approach.

He said people were often not alert to the impact their decisions would have on the wider environment, and that the theological perspective, emphasising caring for the poor, should be emphasised.

He said that people had a deep longing for interconnectedness, and that human flourishing was the responsibility of all.