If you want to understand how little has changed with Tony Abbott being replaced by Malcolm Turnbull then Turnbull’s comments as he visited flood-stricken Launceston were informative.
“A land of droughts and flooding rains,” intoned the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull mimes the government’s approach to climate change
It seems we still have a Prime Minister whose views of climate change seem to be based on some doggerel written by a 19 year-old member of the landed gentry at the beginning of the last century.
Dorothea Mackellar loved a sunburnt country and as far as Tony Abbott and now Malcolm Turnbull are concerned things haven’t changed much since she wrote My Country.
Tony Abbott’s climate adviser Dorothea Mackellar has been reappointed to advise the new Prime Minister
‘Australia’s a land of droughts and flooding rains, always has been, always will be,’ said Abbott famously quoting Mackellar’s poem in a comment that would be laughable if it were not so tragic.
In typical Turnbull fashion, the Prime Minister fudged the issue of climate change while in Launceston. “We should be careful about attributing any one event to climate change,” he intoned.
It was a throwaway line that indicates a lack of ability to think about climate change as a systemic and global problem.
In Systems Thinking, we have a model that helps us understand the relationship between events (such as the floods in Launceston) and the systemic structures ( such as global manufacturing’s production of CO2) that produce them. The model is about events, patterns, structures and mental models.
The events at the top of the pyramid are often described as the tip of the iceberg. It’s the stuff you see and often it can simply be isolated events. But sometimes it’s not. The next thing to look for is whether these events actually form some pattern i.e. Are floods becoming more frequent and more severe?
The next question, once a pattern has been established is to ask whether there are underlying systemic structures that produces this pattern of events. The answer is usually yes.
Once you reach this point in the analysis, it is possible to begin thinking about redesigning the structures that produce the patterns you wish to change. A key part of this process is changing the mental models of the policy makers or business executives who are responsible for the structures that need changing.
The model also suggests that beneath all systemic structures there are sets of beliefs, values and attitudes that have designed the structures and keep them in place.
So if we want to get action on climate change in Australia, the first step is to get rid of Dorothea McKellar as the Prime Minister’s climate advisor.
Here is some modelling to show a serious problem really is and which may help the Prime Minister Dummies’ guide to climate change