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Our uncertain future

By Stephen Fitzgerald

From the New York Times, the most dire of predictions:

WASHINGTON — A major scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies on Friday presents the starkest warnings to date of the consequences of climate change for the United States, predicting that if significant steps are not taken to rein in global warming, the damage will knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the American economy by century’s end.

The report, which was mandated by Congress and made public by the White House, is notable not only for the precision of its calculations and bluntness of its conclusions, but also because its findings are directly at odds with President Trump’s agenda of environmental deregulation, which he asserts will spur economic growth?

In terms of the consequences of climate change, lets have a look at what’s on the cards:

  1. Communities: – Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth.
  2. Economy: – Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.
  3. Interconnected Impacts: – Climate change affects the natural, built, and social systems we rely on individually and through their connections to one another. These interconnected systems are increasingly vulnerable to cascading impacts that are often difficult to predict, threatening essential services within and beyond the Nation’s borders.
  4. Actions to Reduce Risks: – Communities, governments, and businesses are working to reduce risks from and costs associated with climate change by taking action to lower greenhouse gas emissions and implement adaptation strategies. While mitigation and adaptation efforts have expanded substantially in the last four years, they do not yet approach the scale considered necessary to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades.
  5. Water: – The quality and quantity of water available for use by people and ecosystems across the country are being affected by climate change, increasing risks and costs to agriculture, energy production, industry, recreation, and the environment.
  6. Health: – Impacts from climate change on extreme weather and climate-related events, air quality, and the transmission of disease through insects and pests, food, and water increasingly threaten the health and well-being of the American people, particularly populations that are already vulnerable.
  7. Indigenous Peoples: – Climate change increasingly threatens Indigenous communities’ livelihoods, economies, health, and cultural identities by disrupting interconnected social, physical, and ecological systems.
  8. Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services: – Ecosystems and the benefits they provide to society are being altered by climate change, and these impacts are projected to continue. Without substantial and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, transformative impacts on some ecosystems will occur; some coral reef and sea ice ecosystems are already experiencing such transformational changes.
  9. Agriculture: – Rising temperatures, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on rangelands, and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the United States. Expected increases in challenges to livestock health, declines in crop yields and quality, and changes in extreme events in the United States and abroad threaten rural livelihoods, sustainable food security, and price stability.
  10. Infrastructure: – Our Nation’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure is further stressed by increases in heavy precipitation events, coastal flooding, heat, wildfires, and other extreme events, as well as changes to average precipitation and temperature. Without adaptation, climate change will continue to degrade infrastructure performance over the rest of the century, with the potential for cascading impacts that threaten our economy, national security, essential services, and health and well-being.
  11. Oceans & Coasts: – Coastal communities and the ecosystems that support them are increasingly threatened by the impacts of climate change. Without significant reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions and regional adaptation measures, many coastal regions will be transformed by the latter part of this century, with impacts affecting other regions and sectors. Even in a future with lower greenhouse gas emissions, many communities are expected to suffer financial impacts as chronic high-tide flooding leads to higher costs and lower property values.
  12. Tourism and Recreation: – Outdoor recreation, tourist economies, and quality of life are reliant on benefits provided by our natural environment that will be degraded by the impacts of climate change in many ways.

You don’t have to be a genius to work out that the same scenario applies to every western capitalist country including Australia. In fact, the impact is global. For capitalism to flourish you need economic growth so, are our short sighted leaders, in climate change denial, about to inadvertently or otherwise, destroy capitalism?

Donald Trumps “Mini-me” Australian PM Scott Morrison has the same short/sighted approach to climate change. Taking no action to address the impact of global warming for short term corporate profit will lead to catastrophic economic and environmental loss in the medium to long/term. Actually it’s happening right now!

Here’s the conundrum – Right wing conservatives by definition don’t like change so, why are they embracing climate change and risking the future of humanity and the natural world? The Morrisons and the Trumps are happy to change their spots when driven by greed and the result is, screw the consequences, screw the rest of us and screw the planet. Or is there more to it than that? What’s in their heads?

Since, by embracing climate change, they appear to be hell bent on destroying capitalism, what’s the alternative they have in mind? Well, like any good right-winger, if my obsession was money, power and total control, I would be thinking democratic dictatorship so that no-one could stand in my way. That’s how Putin and Xi Jinping keep the civilian population and the financial elite in their place and totally under control.

To go down that path, as a start, you need to give the military call out powers to respond to riots with shoot to kill authorization, you need to control the media, you denigrate and drag down your opponents, you constantly instil trumped-up fear into the community, you increase the fire power and size of the police force and you buy the military with hundreds of billions of dollars in defence spending. $200 billion on defence is more that half our national debt. And, that my friend, is precisely what the Morrison government are doing right now, today?

So, we have a choice, ladies and gentlemen – Address global warming and continue with capitalism where the elite feed off society with the blessing of right-wing governments or, turn the page and go for destruction of the planet and a full blown dictatorship? It appears to me that conservatives aren’t so conservative after all and, they have an agenda to put themselves in total control and keep the rest of us, including the financial elite, firmly under foot. Wouldn’t Morrison and his cronies love that, no one to answer to. Not even those rich bastards at the top and, no more sucking up to Murdoch.

If I were part of the global financial elite, the rich and the powerful, I would be having a serious look at where extreme right-wing governments are pushing societies and why? There are those among us who see catastrophic climate change and the demise of capitalism as a huge opportunity and, a grab for total power.

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  1. Andreas

    “To go down that path, as a start, you need to give the military call out powers to respond to riots with shoot to kill authorization, you need to control the media, you denigrate and drag down your opponents, you constantly instil trumped-up fear into the community, you increase the fire power and size of the police force and you buy the military with hundreds of billions of dollars in defence spending. $200 billion on defence is more that half our national debt. And, that my friend, is precisely what the Morrison government are doing right now”

    When Howard spent some 600 Mill on refurbishing and expanding a then non-utilised Christmas Island Detention Centre around the turn of the century, it became clear that future inmates would be we troublesome Australians.

    Welcome to Fascism, it’s right here, right now, and right in your face.

  2. pierre wilkinson

    This particular misgovernment is playing straight from the nazi manifest in many ways, none more than their reiteration of any particular lie. Keep repeating it as fact, tell it boldly and loudly and denigrate then threaten those who are not compliant. Call them traitors and blame them for the nation’s woes. Rally the population in an “us vs them” scenario… and have a good scare campaign.
    Coupled with your observations about the media and defence, it becomes a scary reality.

  3. John Hermann

    There can be no escaping from the conclusion that the current model of capitalism is quite inadequate to meet the challenge of climate change. We need a radical change of direction. Capitalism, as it is currently constructed, requires continuous GDP growth of sufficient magnitude if the system is to remain stable in any sense. There is no mechanism for leveling off the rate of growth. It is like a plane which requires a minimum speed for stability — it cannot hover like a helicopter, for if it tries to do so it will stall, go into a tailspin and crash.

  4. terence mills

    Just heard on the news that the Chinese have indefinitely blocked Australian coal imports at the port of Dalian.

    Our politicians seem quite surprised but seem to forget that we rubbished their leading telecommunications provider, Huawei and would not allow it to bid for our 5G network and then as soon as there is hacking incident we blame China without offering any evidence.

    We need to remember that without China taking our coal and iron ore, we are virtually a third world economy !

  5. New England Cocky

    @terence mills: Uhm …. I think that should read “Under the present policies of the RAbbott Turdball Mossiscum Lazy Nasty People misgovernment Australia has been turned into a third world economy”.

  6. David Bruce

    Does anyone have any data on the amount of weather modification our atmosphere has been subjected to in the interests of combating global warming?

    Operation Popeye was a relatively small scale operation in Vietnam to make the Ho Chi Minh trail unusable with continuous monsoon rain.

    NASA admits conducting experiments using modified U2S aircraft.
    NASA ER-2 scientific research aircraft

    The scientific research aircraft derivative of the U-2 is the ER-2 developed by Lockheed Martin for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The ER-2 is a high altitude research aircraft used to carry experiments and sensors. ER-2s can carry airborne scientific payloads of up to 2,600lbs to investigate such matters as earth resources, celestial phenomena, atmospheric chemistry and dynamics and oceanic processes.

    U-2 High-Altitude Reconnaissance Aircraft

    The US Air Force also has a squadron of specially modified U2S Dragon Lady aircraft for weather “reconnaissance”! Note the special mounting behind the cockpit in the photos of the latest versions of the U2S.

    Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady Spy Plane

    The Royal Society is now discussing Plan B, to deal with climate change if governments fail to act!

  7. guest

    Essay by Brian Fisher (The Australian, 21/2/19) “Come clean on climate change’ was exposed way back in 1996 by Professor John Quiggin in the AFR, 17/12/1996.

    The deniers in the Australian still spread the falsity years later.

    Have they no shame?

  8. Ken Fabian

    Action and inaction are perversely reversed – people of power and influence embrace and welcome the actions that cause climate change and refuse any responsibility for those effects, which they choose to doubt so emphatically – not because the science is wrong, but because it is right. The science being right means accepting climate responsibility and accountability and potentially, liability – so they argue the science is wrong in order to avoid a burden of costs. Cost that have been externalised and futurised as a matter of long standing practice. A very profitable practice – but only because if the full and true costs of burning fossil fuels ever get included in the sale price… they would exceed the sale price, by a large margin; the true economic legacy is an enduring, recurring burden of climate change induced costs.

    And perhaps they cling ever more desperately to their denying the expert advice is true as a mental shield against the mortal shame they ought to feel for choosing to let the planet cook rather than face any costs or inconvenience.

  9. Lambert Simnel

    Something unheimlich about a childish state of mind, the entire miracle of life reduced to extension devoid of endeavor and joy. Such is the nihilism described by Ken Fabian.

  10. guest

    Today, Monday, The Australian is overloaded with its top scribblers referring to the puffed up economics of Brian Fisher, as if it can be taken seriously.

    Coal is all the go. And the Coalition has already done a marvelous job of reducing carbon emissions…even though it is not necessary to boast of because we all know the climate change ferfufle is all a UN scam.

    Besides, Oz coal is the purest in the world and if we do not sell it, other countries might sell their inferior coal. Why that is important if climate change is a scam is not revealed.

    But it gives a good chance to say how the Labor carbon tax was such a bad thing – even though Peta Credlin has admitted it was not a carbon tax at all. But some of these obsessions stick in the brains of propagandists.

    What they keep well away from is any calculation of the cost of cooking the planet.

  11. LOVO

    “We are facing the greatest existential crisis humanity has ever faced. And yet it has been ignored. You who have ignored it know who you are.”
    Greta Thunberg
    One wonders if’n they do.
    If you hate the Earth…vote LNP.

  12. Stephen Fitzgerald

    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.

  13. Josephus

    Extreme climates have already reduced crop yield. Happened in Oz, where eg wheat yields are much down; forest fires have killed the bees needed for pollination. Existing desertification in Oz and Africa grows. Cambodian farmers forced off their dying land by crop failure, are now debt slaves making bricks . These slaves at the kilns are prone to work accidents, but grog is cheap, so domestic violence thrives in the shanty settlements nearby. The women forced by brutality, extreme poverty and lack of medical care have c ten kids, the survivors the next generation of slaves.
    Climate change is the death of democracy and of nature.

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