Bolt’s below the belt attack “utterly stupid”

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Andrew Bolt’s personal and below the belt attack on Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, in his column for the Herald Sun in Australia, is unlikely to bother the Prime Minister too much. 

And so it shouldn’t as he has bigger and better things to think about and work on.

You see, it’s not the first time someone has called out Tuilaepa’s size, in an attempt to get under his skin, and it sure will not be the last. 

In fact, we’ve seen on a daily basis, just how nasty some of the names our poor Prime Minister has been called – on social media and in other forums. 

Now and then he fires back with some of his own, which can be quite hilarious at times, but that’s the nature of the beast, so to speak. And when it comes to Tuilaepa, he is a veteran of the game. He gives as much as he gets.

Last week he was in Australia to address the Lowy Institute, when someone asked him about people, who are skeptical of climate change. Any other political leader in the world would have stopped, thought twice and tried to wrap up his response in a nice way, to make it as diplomatic as possible. Not Prime Minister Tuilaepa. He shoots from the hip.

“We all know the problem, we all know the solutions, and all that is left would be some political courage, some political guts, to tell people of your country there is a certainty of disaster,” Tuilaepa responded.

“So any leader of any country who believes that there is no climate change, I think he ought to be taken to mental confinement. He is utterly stupid. And I say the same thing to any leader here.”

Political guts? Mental confinement? Utterly stupid? 

In Australia, it would seem unusual for a nation’s leader to use such terms, but anyone who knows Tuilaepa, would not be surprised. The words “stupid”, “idiot”, and “fool” are a regular feature of his vocab. Those words aside, whoever asked the question, got an answer, maybe more than he or she bargained for – but that’s Tuilaepa for you.

Somewhere in Australia, conservative political commentator and blogger Bolt was not happy. So he put pen to paper for a column in the Herald Sun.

“Anyone who saw Samoa’s Prime Minister waddle to the podium of Sydney’s Lowy Institute last week should have known he was conning us,” he wrote. 

“No, it’s not global warming that’s the ‘single greatest threat to the … wellbeing of peoples of the Pacific’, as Tuilaepa Sailele bellowed while demanding that Australia have the ‘political guts’ to slash its emissions.”

“Well, speaking of guts, friend, check your own. It should remind you far more Samoans are killed by what they stuff down their throats than by what Australians pump up their chimneys.”

Well, what does Tuilaepa’s size have to do with climate change? Yes, we agree we have a massive obesity problem, but that’s not a secret and everyone knows. We don’t hide it. All you have to do is google and you’ll find it.

But again what does obesity have to do with climate change? As much as Bolt’s rumbling don’t make sense, you have to read further down to finally understand him. 

“Sure, Sailele may rant about how global warming is drowning Pacific islands and smashing them with monster cyclones, but that’s false, too. There is no evidence of more or worse cyclones in the Pacific. Samoa’s deadliest cyclone struck back in 1889, and its last category 4 cyclone was 27 years ago,” he continues.

“Rising seas don’t seem a big problem, either. The most comprehensive survey of low-lying Pacific atoll islands, by Professor Paul Kench, found that 40 per cent were actually growing, not sinking, and another 40 per cent were stable.”

Unsurprisingly climate change skeptics jumped onto Professor Kench’s findings when they were first made public this year. And it doesn’t surprise us that Bolt opted to conveniently leave out an important conclusion by the Professor Kench-led University of Auckland team: “However, such studies have typically examined a limited number of islands within atoll nations, and not provided forward trajectories of land availability, thereby limiting the findings for broader adaptation considerations.”

That is to say the findings of the Auckland University team does not necessarily apply to other atolls and Pacific Island communities, whose lives have changed forever, thanks to the effects of climate change. Governments around the world have acknowledged its impact, and global consensus over the years has led to the creation of bodies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (I.P.C.C.). Even America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (N.A.S.A.) has acknowledged it, and is among leading scientific organisations worldwide that have issued public statements endorsing this position.

So now we understand why Tuilaepa had upset Mr. Bolt so much, that he would go out of his way to attack him so personally. You see Mr. Bolt is one of the “stupid” people Tuilaepa was referring to in his response at the Lowy Institute. He doesn’t believe in climate change. Which is okay, this is a free world where people are entitled to believe whatever they want to believe. 

But someone needs to tell him to stick to his backyard and check his facts before putting pen to paper. Everything he writes from cyclones to sinking islands are wrong. For his information, this country is still trying to recover from the impact of Cyclone Gita, which is one of many cyclones we keep having as a result of climate change.

The rest of his blog is not worth a response, because in Tuilaepa’s own words, “it’s utterly stupid!”

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