Fire and Rain
James Taylor released ‘Fire and Rain’ in January 1970. Taylor’s song is about a number of his personal issues including drug addiction, professional upsets and the suicide of a friend. If it was released today it could have been a commentary on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s current term in office. Morrison’s term as Prime Minister has been bookended by (unprecedented) bushfires and (unprecedented) flooding. Morrison is a part of his problems as he doesn’t ‘hold a hose’, or send a flood boat either – apparently.
Morrison has been a ‘front bencher’ in all of the versions of the current Liberal National Party Coalition Governments since Abbott came to power, as have the current pretenders to the throne, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Defence Minister Peter Dutton. Abbott came to power promoting the false premise that an emissions trading scheme was a ‘carbon tax’ that would mean $100 lamb roasts and wipe out the City of Whyalla. To be fair, the ALP didn’t sell the trading scheme well because the leadership were more interested in stabbing each other in the back than having a genuine and honest conversation with Australia on the need to reduce emissions. The expert scientists in the CSIRO have been telling us to have the conversation about emissions reduction since the 1970s.
Probably with memories of the less than stellar reaction to his televised visits to firegrounds in NSW at the beginning of 2020, Morrison chose to tour South-East Queensland and Northern NSW without the media as he claimed that people in distress don’t like having cameras shoved in their faces. That’s probably true, however Morrison’s ‘personal photographer’ was in attendance. (One has to ask in passing why the Australian taxpayer is paying for a photographer to accompany any Prime Minister to produce glossy propaganda photos?)
The media didn’t use many of the photos. The Nine Network’s Today and Seven’s Sunrise show grilled Morrison and Emergency Services Minister Bridget McKenzie about their pitiful response to the flood disaster – with Nine’s Karl Stefanovic telling McKenzie he didn’t know what her response to a question actually meant. Crikey and others took Morrison and McKenzie to task over the declaration of a National Disaster being made a week after the flooding event started in Gympie (Queensland). Morrison and McKenzie claimed they had to wait until they had agreement from the affected states and there was a scale of magnitude to the disaster. As Crikey observed
Still, the serious question remains: why the late declaration? The correct answer is the obvious one: there was no reason to not declare a national emergency earlier, unless the prime minister was insisting on announcing it himself, standing on a pile of waterlogged furniture like George W Bush at Ground Zero. And Morrison, as it happened, was in COVID isolation until the day the emergency was declared. Coincidence? With this government, there is no such thing.
The National Disaster was eventually declared without the support of the Queensland Government.
Despite the overwhelming evidence of climate change causing greater volatility in the weather across Australia, Morrison’s lack of effective action to promote emissions reduction had his supporters. The News Corp keyboard warriors such as Bolt and Kenny were claiming there is no correlation except bad luck therefore climate change doesn’t exist. Some of the lunatic fringe politicians, such as Malcolm Roberts and Mark Latham agreed with Kenny and Bolt.
The week after the flood event, when communities from north of Brisbane to south of Sydney were starting the clean-up, it was announced that the Coalition Government had successfully appealed a court case that determined the Federal Environment Minister had an obligation to protect our children from climate change. It is a sad commentary on the Government’s priorities that eight teenagers and an octogenarian catholic nun feel so strongly about the Government’s apparent lack of consideration of our children that they have to take the Government to court in the first place. It is absolutely criminal the Government appealed the initial decision. Unfortunately, it looks like the case will have to proceed to the High Court.
An election is due within a few months. A number of Australians have chosen to run for office as conservative independents in Coalition held seats. Most, if not all of these ‘teal’ independents are partially motivated by the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Collation Government’s complete and utter disregard for the environment that our children and grandchildren will have to endure. They seem to be confident of changing the voting habits of a reasonable number of formerly rusted on Coalition voters. We also know from history, that once an electorate chooses an independent candidate, it is difficult for the major parties to regain the seat.
Poetic justice would be that when the next ‘unprecedented’ natural disaster hits Australia, Morrison is sitting on his couch and watching the rolling coverage of the unfolding disaster. with the Prime Minister of the day showing Morrison how the job is done and the media making the comparison for all to see. At the same time his daughters are telling him in no uncertain terms that he could have done something when he was PM to stop the tragedies of the future, and didn’t.
What do you think?
This article was originally published on The Political Sword
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We have mediocre men often believers in sky fairies in charge, a problem with a democracy run by a mainly compliant and conspiratorial media. Nero fiddles as Rome burns.
Independents and Greens may cooperate to get rid of these dinosaurs.
Doubt his daughters would have said a word, still too young to question
In his 2015 book, Learning to Die in the Anthropocene, subtitled Reflections on the End of a Civilization, author Roy Scranton cuts to the chase in the eighth paragraph of the introduction.
He writes, “We’re fucked. The only questions are how soon and how badly.”
Given that at the time of writing the IPCC’s latest report was in 2014, and that we’re now another seven years down the road towards the global warming armageddon, with the IPCC’s position increasingly one of ‘gloom & doom’, along with a sense of despair as reflected most recently by the sec-general of the UN, António Guterres, here quoted at length…
“I have seen many scientific reports in my time, but nothing like this.
Today’s IPCC report is an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.
With fact upon fact, this report reveals how people and the planet are getting clobbered by climate change.
Nearly half of humanity is living in the danger zone – now.
Many ecosystems are at the point of no return – now.
Unchecked carbon pollution is forcing the world’s most vulnerable on a frog march to destruction – now.
The facts are undeniable.
This abdication of leadership is criminal.
The world’s biggest polluters are guilty of arson of our only home.
It is essential to meet the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.
Science tells us that will require the world to cut emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
But according to current commitments, global emissions are set to increase almost 14 per cent over the current decade.
That spells catastrophe.
It will destroy any chance of keeping 1.5 alive.
Today’s report underscores two core truths.
First, coal and other fossil fuels are choking humanity.
All G20 governments have agreed to stop funding coal abroad. They must now urgently do the same at home and dismantle their coal fleets.
Those in the private sector still financing coal must be held to account.
Oil and gas giants – and their underwriters – are also on notice.
You cannot claim to be green while your plans and projects undermine the 2050 net-zero target and ignore the major emissions cuts that must occur this decade.
People see through this smokescreen.
OECD countries must phase out coal by 2030, and all others by 2040.
The present global energy mix is broken.
As current events make all too clear, our continued reliance on fossil fuels makes the global economy and energy security vulnerable to geopolitical shocks and crises.
Instead of slowing down the decarbonization of the global economy, now is the time to accelerate the energy transition to a renewable energy future.
Fossil fuels are a dead end – for our planet, for humanity, and yes, for economies.
A prompt, well-managed transition to renewables is the only pathway to energy security, universal access and the green jobs our world needs.
I am calling for developed countries, Multilateral Development Banks, private financiers and others to form coalitions to help major emerging economies end the use of coal.
These targeted mechanisms of support would be over and above existing sustainable development needs.
The second core finding from this report is slightly better news: investments in adaptation work.
Adaptation saves lives.
As climate impacts worsen – and they will – scaling up investments will be essential for survival.
Adaptation and mitigation must be pursued with equal force and urgency.
That’s why I have been pushing to get to 50% of all climate finance for adaptation.
The Glasgow commitment on adaptation funding is clearly not enough to meet the challenges faced by nations on the frontlines of the climate crisis.
I’m also pressing to remove the obstacles that prevent small island states and least developed countries from getting the finance they desperately need to save lives and livelihoods.
We need new eligibility systems to deal with this new reality.
Delay means death.
I take inspiration from all those on the frontlines of the climate battle fighting back with solutions.
All development banks – multilateral, regional, national – know what needs to be done: work with governments to design pipelines of bankable adaptation projects and help them find the funding, public and private.
And every country must honour the Glasgow pledge to strengthen national climate plans every year until they are aligned with 1.5C.
The G20 must lead the way, or humanity will pay an even more tragic price.
I know people everywhere are anxious and angry.
I am, too.
Now is the time to turn rage into action.
Every fraction of a degree matters.
Every voice can make a difference.
And every second counts.
…it would seem that most everything else pales by comparison.
After all, if the planet is now well into a progressive 6th extinction phase, coined the ‘Anthrpocene’ by biologist Eugene Stormer and chemist Paul Crutzen some two decades ago, with all that that connotes; habitat loss, specie loss, climatic extremes, along with the literal expression of apocalypse – fire, flood, drought, famine, plague – it seems to be, as Josephus suggests, that much Neroing is going on, fiddling (or luting, perhaps) as Rome (or Sydney, New York, London, Moscow, Berlin, Paris et al) burn.
Alas for human nature, poor blind man who sees too late the avalanche descending, the volcano exploding, the tsunami approaching (I can still see in my mind’s eye the image of the poor man who wandered down to the shoreline in curiosity when the oceans receded during the Boxing Day tsunami of December 2004, oblivious to the fact that he was about to die), alas that we all suffer with our inertia, our momentum, our inability to respond appropriately, our lack of collective will, our willingness to partition, to factionalise, to fight over the scraps, to pursue for profit until the last trees are cut down (a la Easter Island); and when nothing is left to fight over, what remains? A smouldering ruin? Is this going to be our legacy for our descendants? Gaia’s wrath? It seems so.
It seems another of those peculiar quirks of human nature that we think we know best. It used to be that the prophets of former ages were scorned and ignored, it now seems that the rational scientists of our era suffer the same fate, and that the political classes lead the pack in the scorning and ignoring.
The 2009 documentary (mockumentary?) The Age of Stupid, which ambitiously postulated global catastrophe by 2015, has the opening words of the narrator (actor Peter Postlethwaite) as follows: “We could have saved ourselves. But we didn’t. It’s amazing! What state of mind were we in? To face extinction, and simply shrug it off?”
I still fight, but I’ve given up hope of success. Too many people are too blind, too wilfully ignorant, too greedy.
We are, as Scranton so eloquently put it, fucked. The true tragedy is not what we’ve done to ourselves, but what we have done to other life on this planet.