Hypocrites and Proud: A Response to Andrew Bolt

21/10/2019

You know your article must be the dregs of the dregs when you write for the Opinion section of the Courier Mail, a Murdoch paper that currently has a poster on the wall right before the Captain Cook Bridge to the Brisbane CBD saying “The Courier Mail is against climate action” (or something to that effect). And so you know it’s going to be a fun read when the author of such a piece is Andrew Bolt and topic is climate activists.

Bolt’s article* was a response to a letter signed by a number of celebrities who acknowledged that the lives they led were not carbon friendly and who openly referred to themselves as hypocrites. He starts by saying:

“Having admitted that, these preachers should have shut up. If they won’t live as they preach, why should we?”

This is followed by an accusation that either they don’t truly believe the Earth is facing a catastrophe or that they must therefore be selfish and unwilling to make sacrifices. This is something that I have seen spouted numerous times, including towards myself on occasion. I also acknowledge that I am a hypocrite, and I wear that badge proudly because I can admit and observe my position in a privileged and convenience-based society.

I challenge you to find someone whose lifestyle truly does no wrong. Every action we take, every choice we make, there is going to be a political and societal consequence to it. So many of the clothes we buy are made in conditions that would probably match modern definitions of slavery – for a university presentation I bought a $500 suit jacket for a mere $30, proving that not only is the price insanely inflated (yes, your expensive suit is worthless), but that the people who make them receive so little of the profits it’s heartbreaking. That is on the extreme level, but even ordinary and cheap clothing originates from many developing nations like Haiti or Bangladesh, and the wastage and incessant buying habits of the West allow this cycle to keep on spinning.

Your electronics are almost certainly created through similar abuses. Apple has, supposedly, worked to ensure they only allow production in factories that adhere to set working conditions, but you simply cannot become a trillion-dollar company (Amazon fits in this basket too) without extreme extortion of some kind. Hewlett Packard (HP) is heavily involved in providing Israel with hardware, software, and other technologies that directly contribute to human rights abuses against Palestinians. Many multinational mining companies have been involved in human rights abuses or destructive environmental practices.

They are just some brief examples. If anyone has managed to avoid the web of corporate domination over society’s consumption habits entirely, I would like to hear from them – I can only imagine the silence.

The same goes for climate activism. My rebuttal to people who throw the hypocrite label as an insult is the same every time:

Using the infrastructure and means available to us in an effort to improve how society operates does not detract from the message being conveyed.

Many copy/pasted comments on social media talk about how younger generations – including the children who have had absolutely no control over society and how it functions – should throw away their iPhones, never drive in cars, turn off all electrical appliances and aircon, etc. etc. etc. That’s not how this works, and the reason is incredibly simple. Just as there are sustainable alternatives to relying on near-slave labour for our material consumption habits, there are alternatives to fossil fuels that will help the planet and allow us to sustainably consume the electricity we use.

It is that pathway that the celebrities are calling for, although my own personal take on celebrities in politics is that they shouldn’t be there for other reasons. If hearing rich ‘liberal’ celebrities push for positive change triggers you, then listen to the climate scientists and Indigenous populations that have been warning us about this for decades. Listen to the children who have risen up to demand actions from politicians and other adults who have refused to take their future seriously. Listen to the millions who marched across the globe who have lent their voices to the call.

And that’s just one third of Andrew Bolt’s article. The rest of it he spends calling activists cultists, comparing it to Christianity in this respect – which I am sure will go down well with his religious viewers. There is one key difference, however, that needs to be covered first, and that is that climate change is an undeniable truth that affects the entire planet; Christianity, as indeed all religions, is a personal or small community belief that, ideally, is allowed to be practiced freely with no such consequences.

Judgement Day stories come in many forms, but the only one that has thus far proven itself is the slowly rising threat of environmental turmoil. Already we see climate refugees seeking survival elsewhere, the increased desertification of large regions, more violent storms devastating coastlines and island nations, a vicious spread of wildfires unlike those we have experienced previously – all of them across the globe.

As to “preaching the faith” – there is no faith required for climate change. You either acknowledge the science or you are denying the blatant truth in front of your eyes. Admittedly, I’m guilty of saying ‘I believe in climate change’, but you don’t simply believe in science, it is something you know because it is proven and factual. Bolt then decries the lack of debate – just like the nonbelievers of old, climate deniers are “driven from our modern temples”. While I am all for discussion, I agree – there is no debate to be had, because there is no basis for an opposing view. That isn’t a threat to free speech, that is just a reality some seem intent on ignoring.

Andrew Bolt finishes his piece my tacitly admitting that the “warming cult” will probably survive, just as the Catholic Church survived its historic hypocrisies (ironically, the same Catholic Church he so shamelessly defends against accusations of paedophilia). This I can actually agree with – the people will not step down or fade away quietly. Our survival is on the line, and we will all be damned if grubs like you, Bolt, or the political and corporate actors you serve will so recklessly throw us over it.

Hypocrite and proud of it – we have a planet to save!

*If the Courier Mail article link does not work, that is because it is a subscriber only article, apparently through a Facebook link my local MP posted I was able to access it.

 

Liked this? Read The Wrong Media Coverage on Extinction Rebellion

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