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Induced amnesia

By RosewmaryJ36 

Nowadays it seems strange watching TV, film productions and documentaries from more than 30 years ago. Nearly everybody in them seems to be smoking cigarettes!

OK, Joe Hockey and Matthias Cormann were caught smoking cigars only a few years back, although that was a drop in the ocean of his stupid behaviour when you think of the appalling budget he had just announced!

Do you remember how strenuously the major tobacco companies worked to deny that smoking tobacco was harmful? Nearly as strenuously as Hardie Industries fought to avoid paying compensation to those whose lives were drastically and painfully shortened because their lungs succumbed to mesothelioma.

It is now old news that in the late 1970s to early 1980s, as coal, oil and gas production was ramping up, some of the major companies involved in that production, commissioned research into the atmospheric consequences of increased emissions of CO2 and their predictions have proved remarkably – and alarmingly – accurate.

They subsequently paid considerable amounts for pseudo-scientists to refute the information. The success of that campaign is such that today, in Letters to the Editor of my local paper, yet one more brainwashed individual decries man-made global warming as a myth.

Feel free to fact-check the above!

What is the connection between this and tobacco?

Greed.

And where does amnesia come into the picture?

Mega global corporations like the oil and gas and, even now, tobacco, companies need to raise large profits to keep their shareholders happy. They have little compunction in lying and cheating in order to ensure those profits keep rolling in.

I was one of many who were conned into feeling more sophisticated if I nonchalantly waved a cigarette around on social occasions and I would have been far from alone in being guilty of causing others to suffer from passive smoking.

I gave up smoking at Easter, 1987, and am aware that I have probably not done my lungs any good. This morning I was talking to a neighbour who has just had surgery on her lungs and is waiting to hear whether further surgery will be required. Needless to say – she is an ex-smoker.

Australians are fortunate that we have had governments who have stood up to the tobacco companies, introduced plain packaging and reduced the numbers of locations where people can continue to smoke.

Unlike Indonesia, our country’s next-door neighbour, the number of smokers here has massively decreased and more and more people are being discouraged from taking up or continuing smoking.

Yet when it comes to our attitude to climate change, we seem to suffer from induced amnesia.

Once more we have major corporations, telling lies to ensure that they can keep the profits rolling in.

I would be curious to know how many of our decision makers have shares in the coal, gas, CSG and oil industries, because they seem desperately reluctant to accept the science and take effective measures to reduce emissions. Maybe the donations are big enough to induce amnesia!

Currently our government, maybe experiencing pangs of conscience over the effects of drought on our farmers, are throwing money around like confetti – some of which is being spent in ways totally unrelated to the drought.

The Murray Darling Basin Authority, having allowed capitalist approaches towards water to encourage non-water users to buy water rights, are responsible for exacerbating the adverse effects of the drought.

We now have rural communities with no potable water, yet, at the same time, big corporations are hoarding water to ensure successfully selling crops which are highly water-dependent. I do not know why we pay our politicians to run the country because by all accounts they are only doing a good job or running it into the ground, saddled with debt and disaster.

Don’t be fooled by the truly mythical importance of having a surplus! We have an overall debt which is massive compared with when the Coalition came to power. And the much-touted surplus is courtesy of taxes, paid by all, including the poor.

I suspect many people do not really understand a country’s finance system, so please bear with me for a necessarily simplified explanation.

Each year, the budget drawn up details what the governments intends spending, on what the money will be spent and how much money the government anticipates receiving from various sources – mainly a range of taxes and sometimes sale of assets.

If, in fact, the balance between income and expenditure is not achieved, then the government ends up with either a deficit or a surplus.

If a deficit, then it simply goes into debt by ‘borrowing’ through issuing government bonds. It will pay interest on these, they can be traded, and when they expire the government has to buy them back. If, however, a surplus is achieved, then the government has more money to either pay for existing or new services, or pay off existing debt by buying back bonds.

The latest tax cutting exercise has not achieved the claimed outcome of boosting spending to enliven the economy, and the people most in need of government assistance are being given short shrift and accused of being on drugs.

Not only that, but the government, has failed to devise any tax measures that ensure that global corporations trading in this country pay their fair share of taxes. Instead it devises possibly illegal schemes to claw back possibly notional debts from welfare recipients.

Talk about robbing the poor to further enrich the wealthy!

Back to the main theme.

The underlying problems which affect us are a result of greed.

Corporations have a duty to act in the best interests of their shareholders – who did very nicely from all the schemes which were exposed during the recent Royal Commission into the finance sector.

We do not help ourselves by allowing ourselves to suffer amnesia.

We forget the history of tobacco so we do not recognise the truth when it comes to global warming/climate change/the climate emergency – call it what you will. It represents a pattern affecting the world, bringing increasingly severe weather events – hurricanes, cyclones, droughts, floods, landslides, rising sea levels, melting polar ice – over which we have little control.

WE DO HAVE SOME CONTROL OVER THE INCREASING SEVERITY IF WE REDUCE EMISSIONS AS MUCH AND AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

That way we can limit the extent to which temperatures will rise but it is now unlikely that we can reverse the situation greed has created!

They say you get the government you deserve.

In that case we all deserve to get the hell out of our world, because the government’s inaction is ensuring that the world will become an increasingly unpleasant place to try to live!

And – sorry! There is no Planet B! Certainly not in the time frame left to us!

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10 comments

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  1. New England Cocky

    Hmmm ….. The Australian (mis)government raised about $600 MILLION per year in tobacco excise and pays out about $3,600 MILLION to repair the damage caused by smoking. For an allegedly competent capitalist government, this poor accounting is inexcusable. I am advised that doctors now put smokers at the bottom of any surgery list because those patients are obviously uncaring for their own health.

    Death by smoking involves a long period of a lot of pain and physical discomfort. My late mother was known to smoke 100 per day before she quit, cold turkey, in 1987. An x-ray of her lungs taken prior to passing in 2006 looked like a shot-gun target while the half goose egg lump on her left bronchus obstructed breathing despite living in a clean coastal air for 19 years without a cigarette. Death is so permanent.

    We live in hope that this present Liarbral nat$ misgovernment disintegrates in less than 19 years because they have been in power for six years too long already.

  2. Shaun Newman

    There is no Planet B that we silly buggers know about, they only tell us what they want us to know. As long as the obscenely rich are able to escape that’s all they really care about. The pace at which they are continuing to rape and plunder the planet, they must have a Planet B. Yes they have insatiable greed, but they’re not dumb, they don’t want to go down with the rest of us! Think about it please.

  3. RomeoCharlie29

    The comparison of the cigarette and fossil fuel industries is apt but while Australian governments have confronted the tobacco industry with increasingly stringent, and successful, controls, there is a wilful blindness from both sides about the far greater and more widespread damage the fossil fuel industries are causing. Now we see this incompetent group of fools negotiating free trade agreements which contain Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses such as those which allowed a failed attempt by a cigarette company to sue Australia over its plain packaging legislation. Although unsuccessful this cost the government ( or us the taxpayers) a small fortune in legal costs. Is the fear of having these clauses used against us by fossil fuel industries a reason why our governments are so reluctant to rein in these industries? Or are the donations too big?

  4. Wobbley

    Many years ago I had a great aunty named Dot, her main voting contingency was where the Prime Ministers and opposition leaders eyes were located withinn the facial sphere and whether “they were too close together” suggesting how trustworthy or not the candidate was. I fear that the electorate is so shallow and lazy and biased that this strategy is replicated now in the 21st century and there is absolutely no chance of the bulk of the constituency voting for anything remotely factual about each party’s policies, combine that with the egregious msm’s partisan approach to elections and what hope as a country do we have. Sweet Fuck All!

  5. guest

    I wonder what plans there are for meeting the predictions made by the IPCC.
    For some it is just a matter of ignoring them.

    Take for example, the burning of fossil fuels. Carbon isotopes in the atmosphere reveal the presence of human burning of fossil fuels. There are many places in Oz where large amounts of diesel oil is burnt to generate electricity to run the property and work the desal plant treating bore water.

    Such places are the many roadhouses servicing vehicles with fuel, and other remote sites off the beaten track. One explained the costs of their services, including the cost of travellers’ fuel,by pointing out they burn 70, 000 litres of diesel a year. This is common. Another compared the amount of diesel burnt by a ship between Sydney and the USA; the roadhouse burns that and more in a week.

    And then there is non-diesel fuel. But see how the internal combustion people oppose the development of electric cars. Meanwhile, German car manufacturers say they will cease making internal combustion engine by 2030.

    And so we turn to gas because, they say, it creates 30% less CO2 than coal. But it still creates 70% CO2 that coal does and contributes to AGW.

    So what are the plans to deal with these issues. Some try to compare with other countries and point to China and India, but we get conflicting reports about what they are doing, depending on who you are talking to.

    Meanwhile, Oz has huge problems with water. There are 30 private dams sucking up water in the Murray-Darling basin. But only 2% of farmers are irrigators. Towns are running out of water. This week there was another fish-kill.

    As well, there is great concern about the contamination of the artesian basin waters through mining/fracking and the tailings/unrehabilitated mines them selves.

    Pastoralists are finding it difficult to survive. Drought for 5 years or more. Stock numbers decrease as breeding cows are sent to slaughter. What to do. Diversify. There is a handbook called “Pastoralism to Tourism”. And that is what they are doing, becoming tourist centres. But what happens if tourism declines? Tourist centres, whether pastoral or regional centres, will decline further.

    Meanwhile the Coalition is going ahead with Turnbull’s Snowy 2 pipe dream. The prognosis does not sound good. It is supposed to put downward pressure on energy prices, but it is a clumsy instrument for that, because it uses power itself to operate – and then there is the cost of transmission. The tax-payer will pay big.

    A good book which looks at some of these rural problems is by Charles Massy, “Call of the Reed Warbler: A new Agriculture, A New Earth’.

    But note: he is not talking about Planet B.

  6. Matters Not

    Re:

    wilful blindness

    Shame! But how do we judge these two examples from different contributors above. Is it wilful blindness or just plain ignorance? Or doesn’t it matter?

    this cost the government ( or us the taxpayers) a small fortune in legal costs …

    and

    .. The tax-payer will pay big.

    Some background. Section 81 of the Constitution of Australia creates a “consolidated revenue fund”, money collected by the Commonwealth through taxation and other levies … Further:

    All revenues or moneys raised or received by the Executive Government of the Commonwealth shall form one Consolidated Revenue Fund, to be appropriated for the purposes of the Commonwealth in the manner and subject to the charges and liabilities imposed by this Constitution

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_81_of_the_Constitution_of_Australia

    Seems pretty clear. The Commonwealth is legally entitled to ‘tax’ (collect) and then ‘appropriate’ (spend) as it sees fit. Put simply, when a ‘tax’ is collected, the dollars then belong to the Commonwealth in the sense that it’s the Commonwealth that has the power to spend or not. The ‘taxpayer’ is now out of the picture – including the really big(gest) taxpayers like the Banks and BHP (who aren’t even citizens and thus don’t get to vote).

    There’s no requirement that the Commonwealth (government) must consult taxpayers (or even citizens) as to where that money will be spent, how much, why or when. If there was, it would be very difficult to see any agreement on the buying of war toys, … etc. No it’s the government that has the power and it’s the government (alone) that must bear the responsibility.

    But urban myths, misunderstandings and the like persist and are reinforced on an ongoing basis. How many times does one hear a politician (usually a Minister) say we must be careful how we spend taxpayer dollars – while they know that the time when it was taxpayers’ dollars is long past. Politicians (with their pretend concern) realise that the punters like to think they have certain powers when they don’t and continue with that charade.

    But don’t Let the Sleepers Awake.

  7. RosemaryJ36

    Guest: in most remote parts of Australia, solar or wind plus battery storage could readily replace diesel.

  8. guest

    RosemaryJ36,

    re renewables: You are right, but I am writing about what is happening now, about the burning of fossil fuels. And now. a decade out from the IPCC deadline, we have Adani starting up after years of boondoggling. No doubt it will lead to other start-ups. It is all about the money and our number one export. Forget the planet.

    Matters Not

    This kind of lecture about where the money comes from and goes has been widely discussed at this site.

    What I am on about is the notion that Snowy 2 is a brilliant natural resource that will “put downward pressure” on energy prices. Well, maybe.

    But costs, wherever the money comes from, will be extraordinary and is escalating all the time. The cost is already far above Turnbull’s two billion dollars. There will also be the costs of transmission to where it might be useful. As well, the project itself requires power to operate.

    No point in finessing about taxes or money sources, it is a very costly operation.

    Then there is the matter of the environment, such as the extraction of 9m tonnes of rock to be put somewhere! Check it out.

  9. RosemaryJ36

    Guest: I personally think that greed, encouraged by global corporations, plus a lust for power from many world leaders, will ensure that life in less than 20 years will be unbelievably unpleasant.
    We have frittered away more than 30 years during which appropriate policies would have already started to slow down rising temperatures.
    Governments think in 3 to 4 year cycles and staying in power is their paramount aim. I am continually appalled by the number of people who believe the climate sceptics, yet we have plenty of people who, given the green light, would be providing all the innovative means of at least reducing the rate of warming.
    I seriously think those of us who know how urgent the matter is have got to get out there – even if we get arrested – to force governments to act!
    Other countries are already making far greater efforts than we have so far achieved.
    Snowy 2 is a waste of time and effort. So is Adani.
    I think our children must find a Barrister who will bring an action against the government for endangering their lives! It is happening in the USA!
    AND WE MUST DECLARE A CLIMATE EMERGENCY!

  10. guest

    You are right, RosemaryJ36,

    but there are governments quite willing to make laws banning protest. And we have seen examples of government harassment.

    And we have seen people “disappeared” from sight in a trice while others of shady character have walked free, evading conviction for years.

    The law has been used as a political weapon in doubtful circumstances.

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