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The voice of a quiet Australian

Yesterday I was sitting in a sauna after some swimming exercise. I joined three other blokes and one woman. It was my first time there but the others all knew each other and were chatting amiably.

The conversation I tuned into was about the bushfires in eastern Victoria and the rescue effort.

The oldest amongst us (I came in second) praised the opinion of a friend who had suggested that the rescue priority should be for those who had tried to heed the warnings to leave the fire zone. Those who had not should be thrown overboard. Seriously.

As a first timer I decided to listen and the chat meandered along, mainly dodging this extreme view. However, Morrison’s revealing behaviour was given short shrift by two of the blokes. No one spoke up to defend him. That can sometimes point to someone who voted for him but doesn’t want to own up to it. Quiet Australians.

Another companion then suggested the science of climate change was overwhelming, affirmed by all scientists and that most of them agreed we were in the sixth mass extinction era. I don’t think he is 100% accurate but the gist of what he was saying is correct.

The veteran amongst us responded somewhat contemptuously: “That would be social scientists not real scientists.”

I joined in at that point to highlight that no, we are talking about the physical scientists and their research and that the vast majority of them, more than 90% in my memory, agreed that their research in many different fields shows that it is real, it’s getting worse at a faster rate, and it’s driven by human activity, unlike the previous mass extinctions. (For the time being I left aside a Defence of social scientists because it would be a complicated and contradictory anyway.)

Our denialist friend dried up. Nothing to say. The irony being that here we were sitting in a dry sauna!

Our protagonist then tried to lighten the mood: clearly a mate of the denialist, he reminded his mate that it was understandable he would not understand the science because he was a Collingwood supporter and could not read.

Quiet chuckling all around, but I am sure that was not fair and hopefully not accurate.

Maybe we will all meet again, and our chat will continue. I’ll be heading back there regularly … the publicly owned facilities for a swim, a spa and a sauna are excellent.

As long as they don’t bag The Crows.

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