What do we want? Rational Evidence based decision making.
When do we want it? NOW!
I want this on a t-shirt. It may not be the world’s catchiest protest slogan. I can already hear the crowd getting out of time and tripping over the detail of the chant. But really, this is at the heart of politics.
Policies these days are built firmly on the twin pillars of partisan politics and whoever lobbies the hardest. Each time I sign an online petition on an issue I feel strongly about I am conflicted. Part of me is thrilled that the internet provides tools like change.org where individuals can rally others to a cause and effect real change. Part of me despairs that this is what it takes. The squeakiest wheel gets the grease. Sure, we can squeak a lot louder now. But we have to keep squeaking. Things don’t get done because they are the right thing to do. Things get done because there are votes in it, or because someone is paying for it, or because it’s party dogma to do it that way.
Why don’t more politicians support gay marriage, despite the polls showing that an overwhelming majority of Australians support it? Because it’s perceived to be politically dangerous. Because powerful lobby groups oppose it.
Why don’t politicians support decisive action on climate change? Because powerful lobby groups oppose it (like the fossil fuel/mining industries), and because decisive action on climate change will hurt in the short term. Nobody in power seems remotely fussed by the reality that without decisive action we are so much char grilled, cyclone battered, drought shrivelled toast. Nobody is bothered by the overwhelming scientific consensus that action is desperately needed. Our politicians look to the next vote, the next donation, the next squeaking.
Which brings me to my t-shirt. “Rational, evidence based decision making.” Sadly it seems to be a bizarre and outlandish concept, but surely it’s not so far fetched as all that. You can construct a plausible argument to justify any decision you want to make. The human brain is fantastically good at rationalising bad decisions. But in most cases the evidence is in about what works and what doesn’t. There are countries all over the world who have tried most things. There are examples of fantastic education systems – we know what works. There are examples of great healthcare systems – we know how to do that, too. And climate change? The evidence is in. We need to do everything that reduces our CO2 output and removes it from the atmosphere. Reforestation, radical reductions in energy use, renewable energy, new generation nuclear – we need it all, and we need it yesterday.
Research shows us what works. The evidence is in. This is what we truly need to lobby for – a political system that rewards evidence based action, rather than the loudest, richest lobby group, or the most marginal electorate.
Last night I dreamt that I confronted Australian Federal politicians on both sides and shouted at them to stop fighting amongst themselves and actually FIX things. Imagine that.