Our best future
By Stephen Fitzgerald
April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbited Earth in the world’s first manned space flight. “I saw how beautiful our planet is. People, let us preserve and increase this beauty, not destroy it!”
Scientists calculated a ‘point of no return’ for dealing with climate change – and time is running out
The goal of the Paris Agreement was to ensure global temperatures didn’t rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. If temperatures hit that point, we’ll be more likely to see the worst projected effects of climate change, including rising seas, severe storms, extreme heat, drought, and fires. In fact, we are experiencing the beginnings of those extremes right now.
The world needs to transition to renewable energy fast if we don’t want temperatures to rise that much, according to a new study. In that study, the authors calculated a “point of no return” for acting on climate – and it’s soon. There’s nothing mysterious about what it will take to limit climate change: The world needs to transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy. But the timing of that transition is extremely important.
According to a new study published in the journal Earth System Dynamics, we could soon cross a point of no return. After that, it will be almost impossible to keep Earth’s temperature from rising above 2 degrees Celsius. The new study calculates that if the world’s governments don’t initiate a transition to clean energy sources by 2035 – meaning that the share of renewables starts to grow by at least 2% each year – we’ll almost certainly pass that point of no return.
The world could hit a tipping point that causes warming to spiral out of control — a scenario scientists call ‘Hothouse Earth’
We need to take action to restore Earth’s systems back to their natural states as much as possible. That means doing more than cutting emissions. It requires planting and improving forests, managing biodiversity, and potentially creating technologies that can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or, amplify Earth’s natural carbon propagation processes to capture and store atmospheric CO2.
Avoiding a Hothouse Earth scenario requires a redirection of human actions from “Exploitation” to “Stewardship” of the Earth system.
We are at a crossroad
As pointed out in the article “Creating Conflict”, do we continue down the path of exploitation of the planet and destroy ourselves or do we make stewardship of the Earth system our priority?
In the new 21st century democratic dictatorships, that are emerging around the world today, it’s difficult to push for action to contain global warming. Right-wing governments, like dictators, feign denial because there is no immediate benefit to them or those they represent. Ask a billion Chinese and the response is the same: “In China the government controls billionaires but, in the West, billionaires control the government.”
People need to wrestle control of the planet from those who would wilfully destroy Earth for profit and short-term gain. In a manipulated democracy it’s difficult, but not impossible, if good people work together. Governments who push for global conflict and arms build-up, to fight over oil and natural gas, are easy to spot. They are the ones feigning climate change denial.
Global conflict equates to hundreds of billions of dollars profit to arms manufactures and arms dealers. With $200 billion earmarked for arms build-up, the LNP Morrison government is pushing for Australia to become a war economy and one of the world’s top ten arms dealers. To be a successful war economy, just like America, you need global conflict and perpetual war. You also need something to fight over?
As pointed out, that something is oil and natural gas. The driving force behind the conflicts in the Middle East. By embracing alternate energy captured from the sun and wind, we no longer need oil and gas. We take away the need for war in that arena. Those in climate change denial are all about massive profit to arms manufacturers and arms dealers. To name a few, Morrison, Trump and Macron don’t care about you or society, they don’t care about starving children or refugees in war zones. They only care about themselves.
Besides inflicting conflict and perpetual war on the world, these megalomaniacs have lost sight on an even greater threat to humanity. If we burn all the oil, coal and gas they are fighting over, that will lead to catastrophic climate change and possibly the end of civilisation as we know it. These pathetic excuses for human beings need to be ejected into outer space so they can ponder our world from afar.
Our best future
Our best future is a belief founded on the very best of human nature. It is a goal for us to strive towards. For the betterment of mankind and our civilisation. For the betterment of our planet and life itself. We must change from a world ravaged by greed and exploitation of people and the planet. We need to become stewards and caretakers to protect our home planet and the future for our grand-children and beyond.
For the first time in recorded history we have something solid we can use to stop the wars and fight against exploitation by the power brokers and cohort governments. Action on climate change and a move towards renewable energy, gives us the voting numbers to change governments, it gives us people power and, is the vehicle to drive us towards a better future.
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How do you tell these people that all the blood and treasure expended to ensure fossil fuel security was for nothing?
Even if the majority of voters, or more accurately the majority of swinging voters in the swinging seats that usually decide government, remain unaware of the true urgency and gravity of the threat posed by global warming, our governments are still entrusted to act on the best scientific advice to act in the best interests of the populace, the environment and the earth’s biosphere.
Under the previous Labor government our greenhouse gas emissions were declining but under the LNP they have steadily risen. This is not due to ignorance but short term greed and corruption. Our LNP government is worse than treasonous and are deliberately endangering all life on earth.
It’s crazy to keep exploiting fossil fuels when we know their use must (and will) end.
It’s absurd to keep investing in coal when we can already see its end, as giant coal company after giant coal company goes broke and the price of coal falls through the floor because the demand for it is falling, falling, falling.
It’s lunacy to invest in war when we live in the most peaceful time in history and statistics show the decline and end of war is inevitable.
Their greed is not only evil, it’s stupid. It will send everybody broke who gets on that treadmill with them. If they really want to make heaps of money they should be investing in renewable energy and a healthy, educated population. Those will give the highest return.
Of the many books by Jared Diamond, ‘Collapse’ is probably the most instructive in the context of this conversation.
His book was released in 2005, with subsequent revisions and re-releases. It is ironic that the blurb notes;
“Australia is instructive as the First World country occupying the most fragile environment (rivaled only by Iceland), and as the First World country now contemplating the most radical solutions to its resulting environmental patterns.”
That section was clearly written before this pack of vandals under the stewardship of Abbott started on their debauched and craven policy. Since the demise of the ETS, conversation at a political level has been about the merit of science, negating any discussion about what needs to be done.
“Chapter 14 asks the obvious question: how could any society fail to recognize that big problems are looming up, and why doesn’t the society take measures to alert disaster? It was surprise at this question that caused the archaeologist Joseph Tainter, in his 1988 book The Collapse of Complex Societies, to dismiss out of hand the possibility that complex societies could collapse as a result of depleting environmental resources. Tainter considered it implausible that complex “societies [would] sit by and watch the encroaching weakness without taking corrective actions.” But that is precisely what has often happened in the past, and what is happening under our eyes today. Hence my chapter draws up a roadmap of group decision-making, starting with failure to perceive a problem in its initial stages, and ending with refusal to address the problem because of conflicts of interest and other reasons. Chapter 15 considers the environmental policies of big businesses, many of which are viewed as, and some of which actually are, among the most environmentally destructive forces in the world today. But other big businesses are powerful forces for environmental sanity: why do some businesses find it in their interests to protect the environment, while others don’t? My last chapter lays out the dozen major environmental problems facing the world today, our prospects for solving those problems, and the differences between the dangers facing us and the dangers facing past societies.”
As you rightly point out, “We need to take action to restore Earth’s systems back to their natural states as much as possible. That means doing more than cutting emissions.”
Regrettably though, as the ‘tipping point’ is already upon us in the practical sense, we can no longer look at ‘gently gently’ approaches or provide accommodations to allow businesses time to adapt. The broader economic impact will require a ‘whole of society’ approach, starting at the very basis of a consumer society, unsustainable consumerism.
There are many consumer campaigns already underway, such as divestment policies in superannuation investments. ‘Green funds’ have had consumer appeal for a while now. It is only a matter of time before this will need to be a legislated imperative, rather than a voluntary one.
Likewise, our agricultural requirements will have to be reviewed to provide for the use of indigenous flora and fauna to be a legislated requirement. The two introduced European animals doing the most damage, sheep and cattle, simply aren’t sustainable. The environmental damage is exacerbated by the reliance on non-indigenous land management, when our soil was inadequate for them in the first place. Natural salinity and erosion were a problem before we introduced European land management techniques that are not only inadequate, but injurious to the environment.
Given the late hour of change, it is conceivable that Australia will not only have to stop using fossil fuels for power, but will have to stop any participation in mining any resource that is either in scarce supply or is injurious to the health of the planet. Whilst the mining and export of asbestos continued long after it was banned from use in Australia, it was eventually stopped.
Likewise, the damage done from non-recyclable products, not just plastic, will conceivably lead to a banning of any item for sale if its ‘waste management’ isn’t factored in.
There are so many aspects of scientific research and development that will assist the transition, it seems terribly sad to note that the recalcitrance of a government and the greed of business are the major impediments. The vast majority of Australians, last numbered at over 80%, are ready, willing and able, to accommodate the necessary changes.
The deeply troubling part is that, whilst we are at a crossroads, the vast majority of us want to go in a different direction to that of the groups driving the bus!
Thankyou Mr Fitzgerald and commenters. Maybe we should shut down schools and get our youth back onto the streets. At least that got their attention! Take care
Stewardship of land, water and air as if decline in quality was an undesirable outcome?
The Condomine river is one of the northern headwater rivers of the Murray Darling system.
The Condomine valley is currently copping a major fracking.
Since such fracking operations started the Condomine River has been venting large volumes of flammable methane.
A study report was commissioned by the gas companies which, although conceding that the process of hydraulic fracturing can/does cause such bubbling eruptions elsewhere, concluded that in this case it was more likely to just be an existing natural phenomenon that locals simply hadn’t noticed before.
Whether the commencement and expansion of mining activities nearby might have contributed to or exacerbated such occurrences does not seem to be mentioned in the conclusions.
Meanwhile, upstream at Cinchilla, CSG conpanies are now looking to dump tonnes of contaminated salt near a Darling/Murray feeder creek, and are only being thwarted by a parking technicality..
Fracking the planet to cook the biosphere.
Ps Happy new year.
Thanks Kyran for prompting a more in-depth look at what drives destructive human nature. As you pointed out: “how could any society fail to recognize that big problems are looming up, and why doesn’t the society take measures to alert disaster” also “Tainter considered it implausible that complex societies would sit by and watch the encroaching weakness without taking corrective actions. But that is precisely what has often happened in the past, and what is happening under our eyes today”.
I think what’s important here, in Diamond’s inquiry, is what caused some societies to collapse, such as the Mayan civilisation or the people of Easter Island, while others facing similar challenges managed to survive? I think it boils down to the people at the top, the people who run the country, whether it be the government or the billionaires or, a collective of both.
From my personal observation, and life experience, the fact that we look different is telling us something. We are different. The way we perceive the world, the way we communicate, the way we process information, the way we think and behave, and of course, our inherent personalities are fundamentally different. As a relevant example:
After the political assassination of Malcolm Turnbull by Abbott and Dutton, even after what they did to him, they were dismayed and outraged that Turnbull didn’t help them win the Wentworth by-election? They are so profoundly self-centred that they just don’t get it! People like Morrison, Abbott and Dutton have no concept of the consequences of their actions. It’s not in their make-up which makes them extremely dangerous, as we have seen. If we want a future, we can’t have people with seriously challenged self-serving personality traits in government. And, we most certainly can’t have them influencing the gullible to gain strength.
People obsessed with money, power and control fall into this category. The arms industry, the fossil fuel industry and cohort governments are incapable of considering the consequences of their actions, it’s not in their make-up or, they are blinkered to the point of self-destruction and will drag the rest of us down with them. Collectively, all we can do, at this point, is change the government and drive for action on climate change. All out action on climate change will remove the fossil fuel industry and reduce the associated war mongering. If we can do that, we are in with a fighting chance to avoid catastrophic climate change.
Or, if we let our politicians drag us down the path we are on, we could do an Easter Island and use up all our natural resources on a global scale. And, just like Easter Island, that leads to full blown war until there’s nothing left and, we have destroyed the environment and ourselves. This brings us back to the fundamentals: “Instead of exploitation of the planet and humanity, we need to be caretakers of both”.
As already pointed out, people with profoundly self-centred flawed personalities don’t see the consequences of their actions and, that makes them extremely dangerous. Get rid of these people and, do everything we can to keep them out of government.
We also need to get rid of Rupert Murdoch’s poisonous influence over much of the voting public’s minds.
Also facebook needs to be brought into line so it can’t be used by insidious groups like Cambridge Analytica, and the Russians (and probably other, more shadowy groups) to distort elections.
And big money absolutely MUST be removed from parties; election money needs to be allocated solely by commonwealth funding; we can’t keep lurching down the road toward USA-style billionaires-only campaigns funded by society’s biggest crooks. Getting big money out of elections would have the good side-effect of removing it from government, eliminating one of the greatest attractions to the office for greedy crooks.
It would also be nice to ensure crooked politicians don’t afterward get jobs with corporations they’ve favored during office. A law preventing paid employment for a couple of decades would be one way to do this. Another would be forfeiture of their extraordinarily generous pension if they receive other income.
Losing their pension would also be a great way to punish crooked politicians, since they rarely seem to ever actually see the inside of prison cells, and almost never are fined anything more than petty change. And it stinks that the community should fund such crooks for the rest of their disgusting lives.
Corvus – Fracking the Candomine valley to extract gas to generate energy can only happen once and in the process, the released gasses permeate and destroy waterways and the subterranean environment. It’s a man-made catastrophe!
On the other hand, if we collected the energy from the sun, from the same area, we would have a perpetual source of energy without destroying the environment. There would be no need to move on, like a locust plague, and destroy other areas. So, how fracking stupid are we?
Once again, it comes down to greed and the associated self-serving and blind stupidity that goes with it. As pointed out by Miriam, this is government pandering to corporates or corporates running the government at our expense.
There was a time, Mr Fitzgerald, I would have accepted ‘they just don’t get it’, or ‘they’re out of touch’. These were, historically, the reasons for insurrections, often violent, to change the ruling structure, when the demands of the people went completely unheard. Invariably, they only served to replace one tyranny with another. ‘Fascism’ appears as either a theme or an undercurrent in many books, across many genres, as a destructive ideology to be avoided. This ignores the fact that it is entrenched in the very fabric of so many societies, and discussion invariably degenerates in defining it and ascribing it to different groups. The problem itself never gets addressed.
I like George Orwell’s theory, that it is a lot simpler than that. His 1944 dissertation is worth a full read.
“By ‘Fascism’ they mean, roughly speaking, something cruel, unscrupulous, arrogant, obscurantist, anti-liberal and anti-working-class. Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.”
As you point out, our political leaders at the moment leave a bit to be desired. If you look at the global stage, we are not alone. Those in control rarely have the interests of the people at heart, but they would at least sell the pretence they cared. What has changed from the past is that the current crop are so woefully ignorant, intellectually and morally challenged, they don’t even pretend to care.
It’s not that they’re out of touch or don’t get it. That’s letting them off too lightly. There has been much written about our lack of trust in politicians and institutions, with a healthy serving about the media. This is neither new or local – it’s global. Whilst buffoon’s such as Trump have made much of this distrust, their hypocrisy is evident to most, except their sycophants. In America at the moment, the unhinging of a small mind is being played out in real time, yet he is still cited as if he could ever tweet anything intelligible, let alone intelligent. The exodus of adults from the man-child day-care centre known as the White House is a cause for concern. Bunkered down, surrounded by acolytes feeding his narcissistic sociopathy, and holding the launch codes. Discussion about the environment may take on a whole new meaning.
Our mob that are in at the moment couldn’t be trusted to run a bath, let alone a country. Even a beholden media acknowledge that their demise is inevitable, rather than probable. The difficulty we have is that the replacement, Labor, are from the same system. Whilst they may be better, that’s coming off a very low starting point. A change of government is way too little, way too late.
The difference now is that we have this amazing capacity for change. The peoples of various countries have always had a desire for change. It’s the capacity that’s different.
For decades now leaders on the world stage have advocated a society based on two sets of rules, where privilege is assured and protection is afforded to the new rulers, the corporates. As you point out, they are merely the latest incarnation of a societal structure.
That they have ignored the building levels of distrust is reflected in their increasing irrelevance.
The reference from corvus boreus is indicative of how far apart these worlds are. If you are a rental tenant in someone else’s property, you pay a bond as a surety against rental default and property damage. The instances of corporates in Australia who have caused environmental damage and then walked away, leaving reparation to the government, is staggering. One of the tenet’s of our First People’s culture that is so out of keeping with the western view of ‘owning land’ is the basic conviction that we are merely custodians of the land. The urgency of this is a likely catalyst for change, as much as the growing inequity in society.
This woeful government seem indicative of an old maxim; ‘It is not until you hit rock bottom that you can truly motivate yourself to change’. There is no escaping the fact we are at bedrock.
This change can’t be done violently, or blindly. Never before have we had these opportunities, as you point out;
“For the first time in recorded history we have something solid we can use to stop the wars and fight against exploitation by the power brokers and cohort governments. Action on climate change and a move towards renewable energy, gives us the voting numbers to change governments, it gives us people power and, is the vehicle to drive us towards a better future.”
Whilst I agree that’s a start, we must strive for a system of governance that cannot be tampered with by these fools. Having been self employed for most of my life, I can well accept the doctrine of ‘top down’ management. If you are the one taking the risks, it seems fair to be the one calling the shots. (Mind you, I’d never make a decision without seeking as much counsel or advice as possible). Having also been involved in various associations, the management is a completely different dynamic with a different imperative. An association must strive to represent the interests of its members, so the management becomes ‘bottom up’.
We have a shot at democracy, but this must not be stopped at the next election. Whoever comes in must be presented with a demand to change the rules, or, at the very least, to establish one set of rules. To establish a ‘bottom up’ system of genuine governance. The primacy of the people over government is long overdue.
Thank you, again, Mr Fitzgerald and commenters, with the usual apology for the rant. Take care
Further south in NSW lies the Namoi River, which also feeds into the Murray via Darling.
On the East bank of the Namoi, Leard Forest, the last existent remnant of once vast white-box forest is being carved into fragments, as Whitehaven’s new Maule creek open cut pits race southward to hook up with the Boggabri coal mine.
Meanwhile, across the river, the north-east of the Pilliga forest is being fracked by Santos Gas, with the usual well flaring, wayward venting and inevitable contamination of water tables with toxic tailings.
For some individuals operating at the sharp end of groups like ‘lock the gate’, the Namoi valley is now a no-go zone, based on legal injunctions enforcing corporate interests.
Thanks Corvus – A microcosm of the larger picture. No less disturbing and just as destructive and, serves as a perfect example of what we face.
WE HAVEN’T SEEN THE END OF HISTORY – WE ARE WITNESSING ITS BLOODY RETURN
By global affairs analyst Stan Grant – 6:00am 1st January 2019 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-01/stan-grant-2019-the-end-of-history/10675572
There will be a lot of talk about history this year, so allow me to get in first, pens global affairs analyst Stan Grant. It is 30 years, this year, since a then-little-known US State Department official and emerging political scientist, Francis Fukuyama, declared “the end of history”.
In 1989, he surveyed the crumbling Soviet Union and the final days of the Cold War and penned an essay for the National Interest magazine, where he crowned western liberal democracy as humanity’s high point. It may constitute, Fukuyama argued, the “end point of mankind’s ideological evolution — the final form of human government”.
“As mankind approached the end of the millennium, the twin crises of authoritarianism and socialist central planning have left only one competitor standing in the ring as an ideology of potential universal validity: liberal democracy, the doctrine of individual freedom and popular sovereignty,” he wrote.
THE PAST IS BACK, AGAIN
Despite the much-vaunted summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, North Korea has done nothing to denuclearise and the threat — now simmering rather than boiling — remains with a missile capability to deliver its payload as far away as the United States or Australia.
The world’s two biggest nuclear-armed states, Russia and America, are threatening a new Cold War. In 2017, old foes India and China — the most populous nations on the planet — eyeballed each other over the disputed military border of Bhutan. In the Middle East the Syrian conflict rages on. Refugee camps are full. People are risking all to pile on to boats and hope to reach safety on whatever far shore will take them.
In Yemen the two biggest powers in the Muslim world, Iran and Saudi Arabia, are locked in a deadly proxy war — pitting Shia Houthi rebels backed by Tehran against the Yemeni government. United Nations estimates claim as many as 85,000 children under the age of five are thought to have starved to death in Yemen in the past three years. The UN says Yemen is facing the greatest humanitarian disaster of the 21st century — 14 million people are at risk of starvation.
A war on terrorism that began — officially at least — after the attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, rages on. It is the longest war America has fought; it is the longest war in Australia’s history. Nowhere is safe. Terrorists have struck in London, Brussels, Nairobi, Jakarta, Sydney and Melbourne. Elsewhere, tensions continue between Russia and Ukraine. Pakistan and India remain locked in a nuclear-armed existential stand-off.
All of this happening during what is considered to be the longest period of global peace in human history. It hardly feels like it.
THE GREATEST FEAR
Any clash between the US and China would be catastrophic, but as much as we may try to wish it away, right now military strategists in Beijing and Washington are preparing for war.
Across the Western World we have populations up in arms about the failure of capitalism now controlled by the right-wing rich and powerful driven by greed. At the same time, it is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model and, they are poised to jump at the opportunity as western democracy fails.
So, what about us, the good people of the West? What happened to that wonderful dream of liberal democracy and what is it anyway?
“Liberal democracy exists to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. The ideology of the liberal democrats draws from liberal ideas.” Liberal ideas being progressive left-wing ideas and most definitely not those of the Australian LNP usurpers.
Where the west has gone wrong and what has weakened us are our piss-weak and pathetic politicians. As already pointed out, politicians overrun and controlled by the rich and powerful. The people driven by blind greed with no view to the future have but all of western society in peril. Not just western society but our entire planet.
Once again, the biggest money to be made, on the planet right now, is from fossil fuels and the escalating war machine. The arms manufacturers and arms dealers expect to make a killing, literally. Do we hold their hand and go with them to destruction or, do we get rid of the LNP Morrison government and take a chance at controlling our own destiny?
Kyran – Thank you. What you put forward should be compulsory reading. We need more clear minded thinkers and visionaries. The path forward seems insurmountable at times and so, I break it down to one step at a time. First, change to a progressive government and then pressure that government for what is rightfully ours. A liberal democracy where those we elect are focused on what the people want. Where common sense prevails and there is a view to the future. We need to keep sifting out the political crap until we get what we want. One election at a time and, that’s a lot of elections per generation.
We also need to squeeze a few more election promises out of Bill Shorten. The federal ICAC was a good start. Now we need action on climate change and an affirmative push towards alternate energy. Also, we don’t want Australia to become an American war machine lap dog at a price tag of $200 billion. Instead, we could work on helping 3.5 million Australians out of poverty.
Work towards that elusive liberal democracy, one step at a time, by removing whatever stands in the way, one step at a time. In the process we can help to save the planet from perpetual war and catastrophic climate change.
Yes but I think your next point is much more important. (And perhaps contradictory.)
Yes, the time for policy promises is before an election because after the victory the political shutters go up They know they’ve over-promised and the quest for a political back-door (as an escape) begins in earnest. Further, promises of significance should always be accompanied by a realistic (and desirable) timeline. Rudd, for example, verbalised an agreement to educational reform but only in the second term. A cop out – that’s still to be realised.
Matters Not – I understand the battle and look towards a generational push to clean up government. The ammunition we have is freedom and democracy, truth, justice and what’s best for all of society. What the opposition has, and that would be the billionaires who corrupt and run the government, what they have is lies, deceit, propaganda, complacency and the blind vote of the ignorant.
We are fighting for what is right and we are fighting for what’s best for our future and, you are part of that battle along with the rest on these pages. We do what we can when we can do it. Politicians need to be reminded that a one-way ticket to the political scrap heap is a breach of election promises. They also need to be reminded that they represent the people who, in good faith, voted them into power and who they need to look out for. And, that’s not corporates or a hand full of billionaires out to feather their own nests.
When the majority speaks at election time the government must listen or they to are headed for that political scrap heap. We have two powerful weapons presented to us in the modern era. One is social media where millions can be pulled together to fight against oppression and exploitation by the elite and the other is global warming. The elite don’t want action on climate change but, good people do so, it has the potential to polarise the best in human nature.
I understand that good people have a fight to win back democracy and, we are collecting ourselves for the battle ahead. Squeeze what we can out of Bill Shorten and if he is found lacking then he to is history. We have the power at the pols to mould the government into what we want and, if that’s a majority of independents then we need to change our political system to accommodate them.
Western democracy today, works only for the rich and the rest of society suffer. If our politicians don’t come to the party, and put the electorate first, then it’s time to change the model. We need to plant these seeds in the right places and forward this observation on to political analists, observers and accademics to get the ball rolling. Put the wind up the pollies and their political parties – Change or be gone!
As a reminder, what we are fighting for is nothing less than our citizens rights in western democracy.
“Liberal democracy exists to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. The ideology draws from the political progressive middle”.
‘Citizens Rights in Western Democracies’ is an ideal which is entirely admirable and arguably necessary, but it is not the eminent issue of scientific concern cited in your article, which was the possi-probability that human activities can/will/have engineered a catastrophic imbalance of our planetary climate.
In this, the alteration of atmospheric gaseous composition causing an increase in radiant heating (greenhouse effect) is just a single component (albeit significant) of the human-driven factors effecting Earth’s biospheric climate/weather.
There is, for example, the biological part of the equation that keeps Earth’s surface habitable to our species.
Take the humble tree.
Operating both above and below the ground, trees actively provide an extra-livable micro-climate through shading/heat absorption, gaseous exchange (oxygen out, carbon in), water absorption/storage/release (for rain generation), as well as providing hostly habitat for myriad varieties of other flora and fauna (both macro and micro).
The overall coverage of trees on Sol 3 has been diminished by over 50% in my <50 yrs of life, mostly due to human activity.
That represents a massive depletion of resource in terms of heat absorption, Ó2/carbon exchange and water storage, as well as obviously being a huge loss of associative habitat.
Yet in both Qld (Labor) and NSW (Coalition) legislative protection for native vegetation continues to be eroded for mining logging and profit-farming so the various forms of land-clearing continue apace, ever encroaching on cores and catchments, fragmenting and degrading that which remains.
The mysterious trail of invisible gases usually leads to visible wounds on the skin of the earth.
Corvus boreus, I’m glad someone mentioned the humble tree.
I remember back in school, in Science lessons, learning about the humble tree and its role in keeping our planet in balance, and the water cycle, and being blown away by the interconnectivity of the living planet.
Do people still learn this stuff? When I was teaching I made it a core of my teaching philosophy, that kids learned about how our planet functions, but it seems as governments change and vested interests change and corporations become more vocal about their needs and wants, our curricula change to mirror the ideology of the new ‘rulers’ and their backers.
Yes, corvus boreus, all that land clearing for different reasons outside the cities, and then in some city suburbs there’s a weird lawn- worshipping going on…the backyard consists of a well-kept lawn and a washing line….in others the houses are so large, no room is left for a shade/life giving trees….
Here is a nice photographic portrait of emerging estates in Sydney’s West (aka ‘an aerial tour of the land of ticky-tacky’).
Note the almost complete absence of any form of semi-independent household sustainability (eg rain-tanks to collect potable water, solar panels to generate power or gardens to produce food).
Decades ago when they connected our area to town water they made my in-laws get rid of their water tank. It was a rule that we had to pay for their water. We seem so often to go in circles of ignorance where the short term always trumps any long term planning.
Corvus – Citizens rights in western democracy and the destruction of the global environment in the mindless pursuit of wealth, by corporates and the financial elite, are most certainly linked. We cannot move towards protection of the global climate if our manipulated governments do what corporates want and ignore what we want. By pandering to the top end, our governments have removed citizens rights and the overwhelming will of the people.
In essence, the push for protection of the global climate is a push against authoritarian, manipulated and corrupted government and, is the mechanism to regain our citizens rights in western democracy.
In relation to trees – I love trees but, in terms of the bigger picture it’s a diversion. One square kilometre of trees takes 80 years to reach maximum carbon storage capacity. We don’t have that sort of time. If your thinking extracting CO2 from the atmosphere, and carbon capture, we need to fast track into propagating things like oceanic plankton which, can be propagated on a revolving three-month cycle and not 80 years. Once again though, it’s not the point.
The point is, changing the political landscape from exploitation of people and the planet to care and stewardship of both. We now have a mechanism to achieve that and it’s called a government that takes action to prevent catastrophic climate change. Using this as the big stick, we can force a changing of the guard, we can force action on climate change, we can get rid of the ratbags and we can stop all the fracking around.
Did you think we’d stand by and let you do it? No fracking way!
Corvus, years ago I read about a Frenchman( a shepherd ? ) who planted hundreds or was it thousands of trees in some arid part of France…Later on I found that that it was only a story/a book….
Anyhow that inspired me and I was going to be the woman who planted trees…. that’s what I have been doing ever since, wherever I go….sometimes people/ neighbours agree, but not always… sad…
When I’m gone , I hope that’s what I’ll be remembered for…LOL
I disagree with your statement that trees are a ‘diversion’, especially in the context of weather/climate.
Note that I am pointing to the evident degradation/destruction of existent forests occurring during current processes of fossil fuel extraction, not proposing mass-reforestation as some kind of emergency carbon-sink band-aid.
You would, I hope, agree that human-driven processes of deforestation and fossil fuel consumption are creating ever-more serious problems in our environment and climate
Part of addressing such wider problems is to highlight their symptomatic manifestations at a more local level.
Both the cases I cited (the Condamine and Namoi projects) bring physical examples to a seemingly abstract concept.
If we seriously want to help in stopping the corporate corruption of political process causing destruction of the natural environment to the detriment of the planetary climate, then addressing the felling of nearby forests in the interests of extracting fossil fuels destined for foreign markets probably isn’t a bad place to start focussing.
There were exploratory CSG bore sunk in the northern regions of the Clarence and Richmond valleys, but local opposition to expansion of operations was vehement, leading to cancellation of the projects..
In 2015 NSW Labor voted to ban CSG mining in the Northern Rivers.
In March last year NSW Labor announced a policy opposing fracking in the Pilliga region.
Well said Corvus boreus
Planting trees not just about carbon sequestration.
Corvus, Kay Lee, Helvityni and Diannaart – Removing trees is definitely a serious problem but, it’s not the root of the problem. The root of the problem is what drives destruction of the environment and, that’s the issue we need to address. With trees as our symbol of hope lets trace the problem back to its source: –
The trees are gone – Fossil fuel companies removed the trees – The government lets them do it – We elected the government – We don’t want corporates removing our trees – The government is against the people – Burning fossil fuel destroys the environment – If we change to alternate energy we don’t need fossil fuel – We can save our trees and we can save our global environment – The government doesn’t listen to us – Replace the government – Transition to renewable energy – Remove the need for fossil fuel and stop the waring over depleting resources – Cut back on the war machine – Divert resources into improving society – Plant more trees – Save the planet, save society and give us “Our best future”.
Perhaps for very good reasons. Contaminated water supplies have been responsible for major outbreaks of severe gastrointestinal illnesses such as gastroenteritis and infections caused by the protozoan parasites Cryptosporidium and Giardia. Known to be a real problem in some schools in isolated areas, particularly for recent arrivals. The ‘locals’ seem to develop a tolerance over time mainly because they reside in houses that also rely on water tanks.
Emptying the tank and refilling with town water only works as a temporary measure. And it is expensive for a small school community.
Legislation requiring the installation of appropriate filtration systems (be they UV, bio or chemical) with any rainwater tanks installed to collect/dispense household drinking water, with the added mandatory stipulation of regular maintenance inspection/tests, seems like a simple solution to the practical problems posed by the protozoae.that feed on possum poop.
However, I do realise that protective preventative regulation and attendant oversight is a rather unfashionable concept.
Ps, here is Chinchilla town drinking water taken from the Condamine River in February last year;
SteveFitz, be careful. Remember that the ones who lie think they are doing the right thing too. They may consider themselves temporarily embarrassed for evidence, but they nevertheless know they’re right… just as you (and I) know we’re right. The difference, of course is that evidence actually is on our side.
Some of the liars are cynical, like Greg Hunt (it seems he’ll say anything for his job and apparently has no moral center). Others are merely misguided, perhaps stupid, such as Morrison, Abbott, Kelly. Others, I frankly don’t understand. Those like Dutton appear to be malevolent and seem to savor hurting people, but I can’t truly say… I find it too difficult to fathom that frame of mind. The point is that most of those in the right wing genuinely believe that we need fossil fuel, and that unhooking our economy from it will sink us. They don’t believe renewables are viable. They are wrong. Goodness knows how many models, and actual examples we’ve seen prove them wrong, but they are mostly not evil. They are true believers. Our problem is we have to change course before they do too much damage.
Corvus is right about trees. They do far more than merely take CO2 out of the air. They alter rainfall patterns and local temperatures, and provide habitats that we’ve blunderingly destroyed. My parents bought a large dead paddock — it was an ex-pineapple farm — really damaged land — and turned it into rainforest in less than 30 years. That land now rings with birdsong and is filled with life. It is a cool, damp oasis in the middle of blistering summer heat. The so-called conveyer-belt theory of rainfall means that inland rain is mostly made possible because of coastal forests. Cut down the coastal forests and everything inland from there gradually dries up and dies. We need the trees.
Technology can help us with mopping up CO2. Algae farms are one good suggestion, as you’ve noted. Another is that many 3D printers use a kind of plastic called polylactic acid which is basically made from starch, thus comes from CO2. (It also has the nice property that if left in damp conditions it will be eaten by bacteria as food.) I’m very much in favor of 3D printing. I think it is the next big step — it democratises manufacturing. If we also have devices in each home to make the plastic from CO2 for our 3D printers then massive numbers of people, each doing a little, will achieve far more than a few giant, centralised systems. We could suck enough CO2 out of the atmosphere to turn things around. Of course we also have to stop burning fossil fuel, but I think it’s too late for just that now.
Be aware also that every curse you aim at the powerful elite boomerangs back to us. 99% of the world’s people see us as the wealthy 1% destroying their world and keeping them down. And they’re right. I know plenty of people who complain about their living conditions. But we here in Australia live better than almost all humanity. We live like royalty. Even I do, and I live below the poverty line. I have some wealthy friends and they feel just as hard done by as everybody else. They don’t believe they’re very well off, and they focus their anger at those more wealthy than them.
We live in a bizarre world where everybody thinks it’s somebody else’s fault, but we’re all to blame. Eat red meat? Deforestation is your fault. Eat fish? The oceans turning into wet deserts is your fault. Eat more than you need? Waste food? Drive more than you need? Use single-use plastic? Use paper when electronics would do? Buy clothes instead of mending old garments? Buy newspapers? Drink softdrinks? Buy Nestle’s products? Leave appliances or lights on unnecessarily?
We all need to work harder on fixing our own behavior.
But yes, we also need to get rid of this delusional right-wing crowd from government, and make sure Labor don’t go down the same awful road. We are rapidly running out of time.
Thanks Miriam – Thoughtful and compelling – I also live as sustainably as possible and there is little I yearn for other than my birth right and that is freedom, a true democracy and the voice of the majority to be heard. A change of government, as you note, is a step in that direction.
When I speak of freedom, I look to human rights protection. There is no human rights protection or Charter of Human Rights enshrined in Australian Law. We are told we live in a free and democratic society and it’s just another lie. http://www.gtcentre.unsw.edu.au/node/3071
One of the arguments against human rights protection is that it may undermining the responsibility, and accountability, of members of Parliament in that regard. Which is a pathetic argument when none of our politicians can be trusted to guard a hen house let alone protect our fundamental human rights.
Australia is a co-founder and signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and yet it is supressed and ignored in our country. It’s called oppression and another example of how far we have to go to install a government that puts the people first.
On a sort of side note: The NSW and Federal Gubmint reports on fish kills have released today:
“Yes, the fish are dead but the water is still safe for irrigation and cotton.”
If you have landed here, you have probably read my stylized on-line book
“ARTICLES: Our Children’s Future – Oil Wars and Ice Melt”.
It’s themed on the raging wars for control of oil and natural gas and, the global consequences if we burn it all. The solution is to remove the demand for fossil fuels with a rapid transition to renewable energy.