Once (when?) our government acknowledges the existence of the climate emergency which is currently affecting our planet, we shall all need to be living under wartime restrictions and prohibitions.
I came to Australia at the beginning of 1971, so I have no first-hand knowledge of life in Australia during WWII, but I was 3 when that war commenced, and have many, very clear, memories of conditions in England during the war.
The population of the UK is large compared with its land area, so, unlike Australia, a very large proportion of its food is imported. A legacy of British colonisation was the importation of dairy produce and lamb from Australia and New Zealand and tropical fruits from the West Indies. With warships and U-boats prowling the oceans, transporting food from overseas, especially from the opposite side of the world, was scarcely viable, and the food restrictions included severe rationing of all basic foods, with powdered milk and eggs substituting for fresh produce.
Air transport was barely in its infancy and, in any case, the skies were alive with a very unfriendly collection of aircraft!
Just thinking of planes – we lived near what is now Heathrow Airport and a smaller Heston Airport was at the end of our road, so we were in a target area during the Battle of Britain! Not highly recommended for a peaceful life but a continuing reminder of the vicissitudes of war!
Back to the main theme – fresh fruit, other than seasonal fruits grown locally, were unavailable, and on two separate Christmases my siblings and I each found a mandarin, one time, and a pomegranate, the next, in our stockings – rare treats! In fact, in cookery at secondary school in 1947/48, we had to make a blancmange using cornflour, colouring and flavouring. I chose to use pink for colour and banana for flavour – never having seen one!
Manufacturing facilities were all geared to the war effort, so all paper was recycled. We were not issued with a replacement exercise book at school until we had both completely filled the old one – and not obviously torn out any pages for personal use! In pre-email days, a box of matching writing paper and envelopes was a precious gift! We even put aside Christmas and birthday wrapping paper to use again! Those were the days when normal parcels were tied up with brown paper and string and sealing wax!
Biscuits and loose sweets were in tin boxes and glass jars and the contents were weighed out and slid into paper bags. We are now paying a high price, in more than money, for the convenience of modern packaging!
Civilians accepted all the restrictions willingly – after all, our defence forces were putting their lives on the line, while we were simply inconvenienced!
Our car sat in the garage from 1939 to 1945 because fuel was not available for civilian use. Even after the war ended, petrol was rationed for a while. Consequently, bicycles, buses and trains were our only forms of transport in an urban setting. Additionally, because of the redirection of manufacturing to essential services, and defence force uniforms, civilian clothes, and fabrics for home dress-making, were also rationed. So, as a teenager, I had school uniform, something old to change into after school (so the uniform could last longer) and something fit to wear to Sunday School. Todays’ teenagers would probably rebel! The New Look after the war was over was the backlash to these restrictions!
We never went without essentials in my home, but we learned to be frugal and avoid waste. Growing up with restrictions, I took them for granted, but my mother had known better times and was very conscious of the limitations on life imposed by living in wartime conditions.
I learned many valuable lessons about the relative importance of various aspects of life, and to have to revert to restrictions on possessions and movement will be quite acceptable. But for many who have grown up in a more extravagant world, giving up privileges and accepting restrictions will be hard.
But if it is a matter of life and death, do you really have a choice?
I have put solar panels on my roof and am in credit with my power provider – and well on the way to recovering the initial cost! I try to limit waste and recycle all I can, but I suspect that much of what goes in the recycling bin does not get properly processed!
I think recycling is a national government issue and there needs to be much more coordination of policies and actions. The Australian State/Territory system has a lot to answer for on this one.
The Climate Emergency is a GLOBAL issue and requires cooperative action by national governments. Some will inevitably hold back, but trade may be a useful lever there.
We ALL need to accept that we are getting closer and closer to falling over a cliff edge which descends to an abyss.
If you have young children, grandchildren, great grandchildren – you cannot afford to stick with the status quo.
The scientists, and a growing number of civilians who are not wedded to greed and selfishness, know that we have nearly run out of time to change our policies to ones which will slow, stop and reverse the otherwise inevitable destabilisation of our ecosystem.
Species are disappearing at an accelerating rate but, sadly, the numbers of the most destructive species – mankind – are increasing at an unacceptable rate!
We don’t need to tinker at the edges of the problem but develop a whole new approach with unprecedented speed.
On ABC’s Q&A the other night, the CEO of CSIRO, Larry Marshall waved a piece of solar film – produced by a 3-D printer – which has been known about for quite some time but has received far too little publicity. There is much (sometimes ill-founded) criticism of solar panels and yet this alternative – which can be floated on water to keep the film cool AND reduce evaporation – could solve many problems.
We have so many solutions, and the potential for massive change, more readily available than we realise.
What we lack is both the motivation and sufficient willingness in those whom we elect to turn their backs on the fossil fuel lobbyists and embrace a Brave New World!
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