I still encounter people who say ‘There’s always been climate change’, meaning don’t worry about global warming, it’s not our fault and there’s nothing we can do about it. You hear other excuses too. So should we not worry about the Reef and the rivers, about Townsville, about Tasmania, about the kelp forests and the mangrove forests and the many other symptoms of a climate awry?
Do the ‘sceptics’ think the scientists haven’t thought of all the ‘reasons’ they find to ignore global warming? Evidently so. But of course the scientists aren’t quite that stupid. They have thought of all those possible ways out of the conclusions, and a lot more besides. They’ve checked them all out. They don’t work.
Global warming, caused by us, is still there, pretty much on the course predicted decades ago. Except that it may now be accelerating.
Don’t end the crimes against humanity being committed on Manus and Nauru, don’t bother with a human rights charter for Australia, address the housing bubble through the housing supply rather than the money supply, propose some new (but not too dramatic) policies on inequality and reconciliation, drop a few crumbs to the complainers. Don’t even think of mentioning the highly counter-productive ‘alliance’ with a rogue super-power. Global w– … what?
From the perspective of 2020 it’s a bit hard to recall just how disconnected from its constituents the political mainstream had become before the 2016 election campaign. No wonder they churned through so many prime ministers.
The readjustment began just as the campaign began, though few saw what was coming. Even the bleaching of a large part of the Great Barrier Reef did not at first get much reaction. True to form, the major parties gave it minimal lip service. It was only as large swaths of the Reef turned brown and ugly over following weeks that widespread concern began to surface. The Government might still have squeaked in, but it had set itself a 10-week-plus campaign.
I spend a lot of my days trawling the follies of our time. To avoid sinking into the mire of despair I need to keep a firm hold of love and hope and grandchildren. But every now and then something lands too heavily in my heart, and I can only grieve.
Tarwyn Park is the Hunter Valley property where Peter Andrews worked out how to get the water back into the ground, by reconstructing a degraded creek so it flows slowly and the water can soak across the valley. His work is revolutionising the way we live in the Australian landscape, restoring its original productivity and resilience in the face of our challenging climate. We learnt last Monday, May 4th, in the ABC’s Australian Story that Tarwyn Park has been, very reluctantly, sold so it can be dug up for the coal that underlies the valley. It would be hard to find a more apt metaphor for the blind stupidity of Australia’s ruling class.
The main research windmills at NREL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Renewable energy is expensive. It’s unreliable. There’s no way to store it. Anyway the scientists are still arguing about global warming, so why wreck the economy for something that might not exist?
We all know these things here in Australia, but here’s a weird thing. Those tree-hugging pixie-lovers the Germans are converting to renewable energy anyway. They plan to phase out nuclear power within a decade. The official target is to reduce fossil-fuel use by 80% by 2050, but many people think it will be reduced to zero before then. Already more than 25% of electricity comes from renewable sources.
A federal carbon cap-and-trade program is dead for the foreseeable future. So is a once promising national clean energy standard.
With climate policy paralyzed in Washington, a number of leading U.S. corporations are going it alone, squeezing big reductions of climate-changing emissions from their operations and supply chains. With stakeholder criticism and other pressures building, more and more are also releasing rigorous climate data in their financial reports and enlisting third-party firms to make sure it is accurate.
Two major Australian institutions are in the spotlight at the moment, the Labor Party at its annual national conference, and the media in an enquiry prompted by the Murdoch press’s excesses in Britain. However the deepest problems with them are rarely acknowledged. The Labor Party has become an obstacle to good governance and to a tolerable future for Australia. The media have become more superficial, divisive, and regressive, and they are eroding our open and democratic society.
I tried this on The Monthly magazine over a year ago, twice. Some of it is a little dated, but the essence is not. It covers not just the science and the economics (already unusual), but the nature and culture of science, and the feedbacks that so alarm scientists at present. They didn’t deign even to acknowledge receipt of course. OK, so their writing is excellent, but mine’s not so bad. And if that’s their primary criterion then they’re only providing a form of entertainment, however sophisticated.
There is a discernible pattern in the trajectories of many vanished societies and empires.Their lives were not long, graceful arcs with a gradual rise, a plateau and then a slow decline.Rather, their demise was sudden, and their greatest accomplishments came just before their collapse.The grandest Mayan temples were built near the end of the Mayan civilisation.The pattern of such societies was acceleration into sudden disaster.