[Published by Canberra Times 24 Aug.]
You can’t argue with climate deniers, they have a never-ending supply of excuses. You won’t persuade the Coalition, the mining industry has hijacked it. Labor is too scared and too compromised to do what is needed. That is why your greatest power is your vote.
If you usually vote for one of the old parties, you need to change your vote. Find a candidate who rates global warming a top priority, who will stop the huge annual fossil fuel subsidies and switch them to renewables, who will disallow any new carbon extraction projects, and who will release the brakes on a rapid phase out of fossil fuels, supporting the workers as we go.
That candidate might be an Independent or with a minor party. If your response is ‘Oh I could never vote for them’, think about that.
Can an untried Independent be any worse than the present corrupt crew bent on destroying our future? Will the Greens really bring on the world socialist dictatorship, or might that just be silly self-interested Murdoch propaganda? The Greens’ policies are actually not so far from those of Bob Menzies.
Will you vote for almost certain apocalypse (Coalition), quite likely apocalypse (Labor), or a chance to squeak through with a couple of decades of disasters, like those we’re already having only worse, and then a slow easing later in the century, with only moderate destruction of our home planet.
That is the choice we have at this moment. The recent report from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is clear. We have to start serious action now. We have to be well along with the transition by 2030, with emissions down by at least half and preferably more. Never mind 2050, that will be far too late.
The biggest danger is a cascade of tipping points. If the warming Earth starts to release stored methane from tundra or the deep ocean, if ocean currents flip, if the Amazon forest dries out, or any of several other systems switch, then global warming gets worse, no matter what we do. We don’t know if some systems might already be tipping. We don’t know if some might tip within the next five years. If we are fortunate, and if we soon regain our senses, we might pull those systems back.
The next few years will be critical. Greenhouse gas missions will still be high, but we can bend the curve so that by 2025 they are seriously dropping. So far we have accomplished almost nothing, in spite of all the rooftop solar we’ve installed. Time is up. No more waffling. No more being distracted by Scotty from Marketing or Murdoch ranters.
The distractions are to keep us from realising we have most of what we need right now. We can rapidly make our electricity 100% renewable with solar, wind and storage, using batteries and localised pumped hydro. The electricity grid will need some upgrading.
Electric vehicles are coming and we can be ready for them. With abundant clean electricity we can begin to electrify much of our industry.
We can even draw carbon out of the atmosphere. Not with the unproven, very expensive and highly implausible carbon capture and storage technology the Coalition waffles about, to distract us.
No, we can draw down carbon using a much older invention: photosynthesis. We can stop trashing the bush and the forests start letting them regrow. We can stop industrial agriculture that depletes the soil of carbon, water and nutrients and promote (again) regenerative family farming that builds soil fertility, with more carbon and more water, thus making it more productive and drought resistant – qualities our farms will sorely need in coming decades.
Many Australians already know how to do these things. They have been trying to tell us but they are drowned out by the trivia of the daily media and political circus. If our Parliament gets behind them they can teach the rest of us how to do what’s needed. We will probably discover more good things as we go.
You may wonder how we might afford to do all this. Well, a lot of our wealth is being squandered at present on things like stock market speculation, property speculation and shooting billionaires into space (and may they stay there). If we can but direct our efforts to the transition, we might amaze ourselves how quickly things change.
Society will be changed, it’s true: most people’s lives will be better, as we slow the rat race, reduce pollution of all kinds, shorten supply lines, revitalise local communities and remember what life is about. It is about having enough to live and love, not about ever more stuff.