In February 2012, as leader of the Greens, I made a courtesy call on Tony Abbott. He had just pipped Malcolm Turnbull in a party room vote for the leadership of the opposition. He looked straight at me and said,
I am an environmentalist! I did not roll my eyes or argue. I had heard the like before. The CEO of Tasmania’s Hydro-Electric Commission, after flooding Lake Pedder and at the height of the controversy over damming the Franklin River, maintained that he was an environmentalist. So have a string of other dam-builders, loggers and gougers of the Earth.
Quite a few embellish this absurdity by calling themselves the true or real environmentalists. Even the Japanese whale killers fire their grenade-tipped harpoons in the name of environmental science.
US president George Bush senior flew to the Earth summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 claiming to be the environmental president. One US cartoonist had him being greeted there by three other male heads-of-state with
I’m Little Red Riding Hood,
I’m Miss Muffet and
John Howard went no further than to claim that he was
greenish, but Tony Abbott is staking his claim to be the environmental prime minister. In Washington last week he repeated his self-assessment —
I am a conservationist — to bewildered journalists — via redwolf.newsvine.com