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THE CLIMATE OF DENIAL: Why real climate action will NEVER come from big business or government.

By Letitia McQuade

If a quick study of our industrial age can teach us anything, it is that big business and governments are either not willing, or not able to “fix it”, whatever “it” happens to be. Climate change is no exception.

For the vast majority of us, (who are not making billions of the back of fossil fuel, or other mass polluting industries), the solutions to climate change appear simple enough. We just need to change course, invest differently, get behind renewables, preserve and plant forests etc…

BUT, and this a big but… Most of those in power have a HUGE amount invested in the fossil fuel economy, and surprise surprise……they don’t actually want things to change.

While big business continues to profit from devouring fossil fuels with a rapacious zeal, and governments remain little more than advocates for the corporations that fund their campaigns, should we really be all that surprised that climate summit after climate summit nothing terribly significant is achieved?

It is a curious facet of human nature that when ever circumstances permit almost all of us are driven to acquire wealth well beyond our personal needs, and to that end those of us who find ourselves in power, (be it economic or political), are generally happy to exploit those of us that are not.  This usually continues along merrily until those at the bottom of the heap no longer feel that quietly starving is viable strategy and some form of revolution ensues.

Bear in mind revolutionary change is never a top down process, much like a volcanic eruption the pressure builds from beneath until it becomes an unstoppable force. While those at the top may sense the rumblings they almost never choose to tackle the situation head on. (The relatively harmonious dismantling of South Africa’s apartheid being the only example that readily springs to my mind). Instead, like Louis the XVI, the Rominovs, the Saar of Iran and countless others toppled by revolution they turn a deaf ear to their inevitable demise, and it’s usually not until their lives are quite literally on the line that they realize the gravity of what is actually going on.

 The corporate/political oligarchy seem happy enough to fiddle while Rome burns, knowing they can afford a class can afford a 1st class ticket out of New Orleans, or Tachloban (or wherever the next disaster falls) well ahead of the storm, and what ever consequences ultimately come, they will most likely occur after their lifetime.

But those of us who don’t have a multiple choice of other homes to occupy (or the private jets to take us there), are all too aware that the weight of any future disasters will fall squarely on our (or our children’s) shoulders. And as such I think it’s time we face the fact…THEY ARE NOT GOING TO FIX IT.

Given that we all know, in heart of hearts, that those in power are highly unlikely to act in any meaningful way, it kind of begs the question: Why are we sitting around like Marx’s lumpen proletariat, or the tragic character’s in Beckets “waiting for Godot” doing nothing, waiting in vain them “to do something about climate change”?… and further more, how exactly is that working out for us? If you believe the science then the only possible answer is not too well!

So where exactly does that leave us?

For a start let’s just sweep aside the all the so called “arguments” of the denialist movement; whom, with a staggeringly willful ignorance manage to push aside 99.9% of the science in order to advocate for the status quo. In spite of the fact the mainstream media, (no doubt due to the vested interests of their owners), continues to give these deluded souls ill deserved airtime to espouse their crackpot anti science, if you talk to any sane, educated person they will readily acknowledge that the proof is in and the facts are irrefutable. Climate change is real, we are responsible and it poses a real, tangible threat to us and future generations!

 

On the face of it this may seem a rather bleak prospect, and many rational Australians are in total despair at the governments active dismantling of our national climate action initiatives. But rather than fall into a pit of despair (like the Greek Goddess Cassandra, who was cursed with seeing the future, but was unable to alter events, or convince others of the validity of her predictions), I would suggest it’s time for us to stop wringing our hands and turn our focus on what WE, as individuals can actually do.

We need to be sewing the seeds of a bottom up revolution. (And no I am not suggesting storming the Bastille, or any other kind of armed rebellion. I am talking more of a 100th Monkey kind of revolution*). If we seriously want to address the issues of climate change and environmental degradation then we need to involve our selves in a revolutionary change of our personal habits, attitudes, expectations of ourselves and others, until we reach a tipping point where people just feel too out of step and too ashamed to behave in wasteful ignorance.

The list of things we can do to reduce our personal environmental footprint is exhaustive.  For example I have a tradesman doing work on my house at present. I asked him to take a cup down to the cafe on the corner, rather than add to the pile of cafe cups steadily building up in my bin. While he chose not to take a china cup, he washed out one of his used take away cups and has now had it refilled no less than 15 times. Sure it’s a drop in the ocean, but what is the ocean if not a sea of drops?

For those of you that need a bit of help, here is a short list of changes you can make that WILL help turn the tide… (Remember it is your kids and grand kids that will thank you).

*Eat less meat (even a couple of days meat free is a great start).

*Buy a smaller car and use it less.

*Turn off lights, boycott your down lights (unless they are LED, and change those that are not),

*Use energy efficient lighting ALWAYS.

*Turn appliances off at the wall, don’t leave things on standby.

*Refuse bottled water, drink tap water (buy a filter), don’t drink Soda.

*Eat less take away, and when you do take your rinsed out containers back for a refill.

*Walk to the shop.

*Buy locally made/grown (food co ops and farmers markets are great for this).

*Use reusable bags (make it a habit to refuse plastic shopping bags).

*Read the news on line, don’t buy the print copy.

*Plant trees.

*Use air conditioners sparingly.

*GO SOLAR, (and for any Australian who has a split system air conditioner that says they can’t afford Solar, KNOW that you are lying to yourself… the cost of basic solar is less than the cost of your air conditioner installed. Fact is you just made a selfish choice based on your comfort and convenience; now smile at your kids!!… If you are getting a split system, get the solar to run it FIRST!).

*Buy unpackaged and unprocessed food and actually cook it. You tube is awash with recipes!

*Use phosphate free washing powder and cleaning products (look for the NP logo). Baking soda, white vinegar, borax and lemon juice can also do wonders.

*Next time consciously get a smaller car.

*Don’t sit idling your car while waiting for people, (start it up after they have all arrived).

Add an environmental NGO to your charity list… Personally I like “We Forrest” as a tree planting, environment remediating NGO. $20 can plant enough trees to offset your toilet paper use for a life time… (oh and don’t over use the toilet paper).

While I get that no one can do all of these things all of the time, every little change helps. The more of us that reduce, reuse, and recycle the smaller the problem gets. After all, all revolutions, (both personal and political) start with small acts of change on the part of individuals.

We all know what to do… so why don’t we do it, I am at a loss to understand! Is it because we don’t see it as our responsibility or are we all just too busy waiting for them to fix it?

So, good people I say it’s time for change on a personal level. In the immortal words of John Lennon we all need to “think globally, act locally”. Every one of us has the power to reduce our environmental footprint. What’s more we can do it ourselves, we don’t have to sit about waiting for the likes of Tony Abbott to do it for us!

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21 comments

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  1. Melita Jansen

    Thanks Letitia for taking the time to write this article and for including practical suggestions that people can take on board easily. I will spread the word happily.

  2. Visitor horrified that someone could be this naive

    Apparently the author has a complete misunderstanding of the science discipline, and even includes a graphic of the ridiculous “flat earth” of Trenberth. If you were to have even the remotest understanding of the issues, you could not make this crap up.
    We’re at the point where all the past cheating tactics of the warmistas (like bullying, namecalling and dodging debates) are starting to backfire badly. Coming sometime is the steep fall of public opinion on “climate change” down over the Continental Shelf of Abject Derision into the Trenches of Urban Mythology.
    Who are the “flat earthers” now???

    rodstuart@spin.net.au

  3. Maureen

    Letitia thank you for you thought provoking article. I agree, we can all make small changes that hopefully create a momentum for positive change. As well I think its important to try and get the message out that there is a massive climate change denial industry funded by the fossil fuel industry with the aim to destroy political action on climate change and destroy the renewable energy industry.

    For anyone interested the Facebook page ‘Greedy Lying Bastards’ has some great information about the American oil industry brothers Charles and David Koch and their funding of climate change denial and no action on climate change.

  4. Simon

    Thanks Letitia. I agree with all your thoughts and I have and do follow as many ways to do as “I would like others to do” reducing my carbon/ environmental impact. We are grid free solar wind powered have the veggie patch and all. We bought a Yaris instead of a large car but I would like to go further and have an electric car powered by my own panels!!. For these to be affordable for the masses we need a price signal and dare I say “direct action” in the form of rebates (not evil emperor Abbotts mad plan).

    How can we do any of the Big picture actions with a government set on racing the other way. Even China with all their problems is making massive strides to grapple with their problems. Their people are pressuring the government to make changes. Changes they say the country would accept lower economic grow to make! This is a communist country!!

    The opening of huge NEW coal mines in Australia when China is talking reducing coal consumption is becoming highly questionable if not maddness.
    The spectre of Billions of stranded assets, laced with tax payer money, is growing. Our economy being narrowed to a Charco (coal based) economy and manufacturing hardly geared to what will be the mainstay to come – renewable energies and processes.
    You are correct – Tbott won’t do any thing, the ALP might with massive public pressure and the Greens would in a heart beat but are unlikely to form a majority government.

    I would like to think positve messages would overcome the fear tactics well used by Tbott but this is not often the case. The fear of an out of control climate may have to be harnessed to help get the message across. How few media reports (esp Murdock press) talk of climate change when record upon record of extremes are broken?? The groups I mention below are the likely answer with an intact ABC and other media !!!

    Ground swell of public sentiment – Revolution?

    To go further on your list and you mention “revolution”. I encourage people, who aren’t, to join some of the advocacy groups like Get Up http://www.getup.org.au an online group well known in the political landscape.
    GetUp! is an independent movement to build a progressive Australia and bring participation back into our democracy. I’m a member and they certainly do bring issues close to the heart of posts on this site.

    So, great ideas but now we need to give the numbers and support, physical, financial and online, to the organisations who are our best bet of keeping these issues in the public eye and countering the well financed snow job of misinformation by the Dark Lords of the empire & Emperor Tbott (sorry Star Wars)
    Tim Flannery is a great Yoda very well informed by his science and better looking.

    At the end of the day hundreds of thousands if not millions of Australian’s screaming for these changes will be heard even by Emperor Abbott, he is driven by his need to be PM.

    Let’s all be in the fight, not saying anyone isn’t, but readers will take this in to consideration I trust.

    Regards Simon C

  5. greenbeliever

    Thank you for this article. We can each make a very small ( minutae) difference.
    BUT THERE is one ENORMOUS DIFFERENCE we can all make and it is NOT VERY HARD.
    WRITE LETTERS TO LNP AND ASK THEM TO CHANGE THEIR DIRECT ACTION POLICY so that THEY DO NOT GIVE ……
    30 BILLION to POLLUTERS and ask them to INVEST in GREEN ENERGY SOLUTIONS FOR AUSTRALIA.
    THEN VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE because they will NOT TAKE HEED of your requests and WILL PAY that TINY-
    30 BILLION to POLLUTERS like a gift from the rich to the rich.
    HANG ON that is AUSTRALIAN taxpayers MONEY AND THEY ARE STEALING IT FROM AUSTRALIANS to pay to the WEALTHY POLLUTERS.
    THE POLLUTION WILL REMAIN THE SAME AS LONG AS THEY ARE BEING PAID FOR POLLUTING YES?YES?
    VOTE LABOR or GREENS.
    Actively campaign everyday using clever memes and cartoons available on IA and other places like the BARRICADES etc to involve others in OPPOSITION activism.
    EVEN if your thing is only a future GREEN australia TAKE THE EFFORT because the war has just begun.

  6. Keith

    It sure is a worry; not only is the science of climate change given no respect but the status of science generally is given a knock. Though, there have been some precedents where science has been taken notice of for the benefit of us all; Rachel Carson wrote about the impact of DDT and the world took action, the same happened with CCTs; though there has been a tardy response to tobacco.
    I wonder how many climate change deniers have ever gone beyond news ltd and actually listened to climate change scientists explain their findings, or read science papers; or even, read articles by climate scientists in newspapers..

    A week ago we have had weather around the globe that is not usually occurring such as the Polar vortex; extreme flooding in the UK; warm conditions in Scandinavian countries where rain has been falling instead of snow, the result being polar bears are coming out of hibernation, and migratory birds have been behaving differently; and a heat wave in Australia.

    Elsewhere, climate change deniers were showing photos of the Polar ice cap in 2012 and polar cap in 2013. The polar cap in 2013 extended further but the satellite photo showed a bluish tinge indicating much thinner ice. In February 2013 satellite photos were showing fissures in the ice a worrying development.

    Thanks for your article Letitia.

  7. Billy moir

    Listen to tony jones interview the rabbott(19/11/009 to see how amoral and ignorant the man is and how far he is from common sense. He cannot but be vulnerable to his spin doctors, the ruperts, ginas and his faith because he has no primary sources to challenge his beliefs.

  8. el gordo

    CO2 does not cause global warming.

  9. Kaye Lee

    Then how do you explain this el gordo?

    As temperatures started to rise, scientists became more and more interested in the cause. Many theories were proposed. All save one have fallen by the wayside, discarded for lack of evidence. One theory alone has stood the test of time, strengthened by experiments.

    We know CO2 absorbs and re-emits longwave radiation (Tyndall). The theory of greenhouse gases predicts that if we increase the proportion of greenhouse gases, more warming will occur (Arrhenius).

    Scientists have measured the influence of CO2 on both incoming solar energy and outgoing long-wave radiation. Less longwave radiation is escaping to space at the specific wavelengths of greenhouse gases. Increased longwave radiation is measured at the surface of the Earth at the same wavelengths.

  10. Colleen O'Meley

    Beaut, funny, thoughtful Post. Thanks again.

  11. diannaart

    Thanks for ‘act locally list’ – have done and continue to do pretty much all except solar power – not in my budget, but then don’t have air-con – are fans acceptable, I have issues with core body temperature.

    Why do people use terms like ‘warmista’ and then proceed to whine about being bullied or called names and dodge debates?

  12. Möbius Ecko

    Oh frig, el gordo here.

    Don’t try to argue any logic, facts or data with el gordo, you’ll only get nonsensical obfuscation and stupidity back.

    This comes after long experience of attempting to “debate” climate change with her. Her sole purpose is not to discuss the subject but to derail the topic by goading responses to her one or two sentence statements. Her last short post is typical of that, and she doesn’t give a stuff what you reply with, she’ll just post another bit of inane nonsense more often than not changing tact and subject, as long as she gets responses and controls the discussion thread she’s satisfied.

  13. Kaye Lee

    ME,

    It seems a conservative trait. Facts, the credibility of sources, conflicts of interest – all are apparently irrelevant. All “experts” reside in the corporate world, or stink tanks like the IPA and the Heartland Institute paid “indirectly” by people like Gina Rinehart and the Koch brothers.

    Evidence no longer comes from scientific papers. It comes from the Telegraph and talk back radio or Larry Pickering’s facebook page.

    The only body that can protect us from rapacious corporate greed is the government. In fact they have an obligation to do so, just as they have an obligation to act on climate change because big business won’t voluntarily.

    We have elected a government whose defining creed is “We are open for business”. They have completely abrogated their responsibility to the people and are in the process of pimping this country for profit.

    el gordo might think she is screwing with us but the tragic part is we are all being screwed – the difference is for some this rape of our nation is consensual.

  14. Michael Taylor

    Her last short post is typical of that, and she doesn’t give a stuff what you reply with, she’ll just post another bit of inane nonsense more often than not changing tact and subject, as long as she gets responses and controls the discussion thread she’s satisfied

    And that, Mobius, will be her last post. 🙂

  15. Möbius Ecko

    It’s too darn hot — and it’s going to get hotter. Get ready for the mercury to notch up a couple more degrees, with today on track to be the hottest day of the heatwave. Many towns and cities are set to break all-time records in what is now day four or five of sweltering conditions.

    We are sweating through Australia’s second major heatwave for 2014 (and we’re just two weeks in). And it comes after the nation’s hottest year in over 100 years on records.

    So why is it so bloody hot? From a weather perspective, it’s a pretty stock-standard scenario. From a climate perspective, it is anything but stock standard. The concern (and reality) is that this —  longer, hotter, more frequent heatwaves — are becoming stock standard. It is no longer a prediction. We are living in a changing, warming climate.

    Weather-wise, one of the main culprits of the heatwave is a “blocking high” in the Tasman Sea that is churning hot northerly winds over south-east Australia. Normally, a high moves on after a couple of days, allowing cooler systems from the south carrying cold air to replace the heat and provide some relief. But this high isn’t moving on — not only is it deflecting cool changes, it is also the mechanism that is carrying hot air towards the south-east, day in day out.

    Fortunately, it is moving away later Friday, so after two more days of record-breaking heat, Adelaide is forecast to get a cool change late Friday afternoon and Melbourne late Friday evening.

    Blocking highs are usually a primary cause of heatwaves. But what is extraordinary about this heatwave (and more recent ones) is how hot the heat source is and the fact that there isn’t a phenomena such as El Nino “pushing” the weather towards hotter conditions.

    This record-breaking heat is occurring in “neutral” El Nino conditions. A quick refresh: during a strong El Nino we typically see our worst droughts/heatwaves in south-east Australia, and during a strong La Nina we typically see above-average rainfall and cooler temperatures over eastern Australia. So breaking heat records for duration and intensity in these current neutral El Nino conditions is like a race car driver recording his fastest speed in rain with poor tyres.

    So what’s to come?

    The frequency, duration and intensity of both heatwaves and hot days have increased in the last 30-40 years, and record hot days are outweighing record cold days by three to one. Australia’s longer, hotter and more frequent heatwaves are consistent with climate change predictions — and the trend is expected to continue. Of course, there will still be cold days and cold spells — that is just the weather — but the overall climate trend is one of warming.

    *Magdalena Roze presents weather on Channel Ten news

  16. Rhona Eastment

    Thank you Letitia, more of this please. I get so overwhelmed by the blinkered-vision of so many, certainly most of whom have no scientific knowledge along the climate science lines (or often, along any lines). You are correct, if we, the people, do nothing, nothing will be done. As it is, whilst we are ‘fiddling’ we have our native animals under huge stress, as catastrophic storms, intense bush-fires, record-breaking heat waves, devastating droughts, and huge flooding are becoming more the norm, than the exception We are losing native vegetation, biodiversity is degrading. If we have an unhealthy natural world, we will have an unhealthy human world. Therefore the costs will be far greater, than if we actively work to decrease our carbon footprint, and the gross pollution being pumped into our atmosphere. I don’t think we will be waiting until our children grow, to experience the catastrophic effects of CO2,methane etc., we are experiencing the changes of our climate cycle already, and it is worsening more quickly than first predicted. WE MUST ALL DO SOMETHING NOW, and force our Governments to address realistically, this greenhouse effect before the tipping point is reached, if indeed it hasn’t already been reached.

  17. Tyson Adams

    I was with you until the list. Some of them won’t make much difference at all, especially as they are the small changes we should have made anyway.

    I’d argue that the things we need to be doing is taking all of our superannuation money out of the companies that pollute or support polluters (such as the banks). That’s 9% of your income every year, that’s big money across the population that is currently far too unaccountable. The next step would be supporting research, like the methane research to lower cattle emissions, like the development of new and better energy sources, etc. Another step would be to stop buying products, food and investing in companies that are clearing land, especially in the rain forests (you’d be surprised how much of our timber and food is coming from forests, not to mention mining). The final step would to make it unacceptable for your friends, family, work colleagues and our politicians to continue with their fairy tale beliefs and inaction on climate change. They deserve ridicule for being on the wrong side of science that is now at the 95% certain level.

  18. Letitia McQuade

    Hey Tyson, Fantastic point about the Super funds… if I had any super I would be moving it to self managed…(the joy of self employment… no super) and while I agree some of my suggestions are more about a cultural shift than a means to making a massive difference to the carbon load, they will all help…. Thank you all for the comments… some fantastically thoughtful points and some wonderful suggestions…

  19. Tyson Adams

    Hi Letitia, thanks. I’ve been doing the Energy and Environment course with Richard Alley, the MOOC from Penn State Uni. The discussions there got me thinking as to what would work and what would make a difference…. combined with a little annoyance at the continued AGW denial that pops up whenever I tweet about the topic.

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