Our apologies to the many millions of Australians who did not vote for the Tony Abbott government. For those that did, one of the world's top scientific organizations has a nuanced message for you:
You are idiots.
What they said was that they had a great number of issues and concerns with the Abbott government's approach to climate change, national parks, World Heritage sites, illegal-logging legislation, endangered species, and renewable-energy initiatives.
But what they really meant was this: If you voted for the Tony Abbott government and care a whit for the environment, you need to have your head examined.
The ATBC is the world's largest scientific organization devoted to the study and conservation of tropical ecosystems and biodiversity. Several ALERT members, including Priya Davidar, Pierre-Michel Forget, Tom Lovejoy, and Bill Laurance, are former presidents of the Association.
The Cairns conference has delegates from 55 nations, many from developing countries. Most of those delegates found it incredible that a relatively wealthy nation like Australia could justify so many anti-environmental actions by blaming its economy -- which in fact is quite robust.
Yesterday Senator Christine Milne, the leader of the Australian Green Party, gave a keynote talk at the conference. She castigated the Abbott government's environmental stance -- and received a standing ovation.
Virtually everyone agrees: The Tony Abbott government is sending an appalling message to the world, especially to developing nations that are often making far bigger commitments to nature conservation with far less national wealth.