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Why are you so concerned, Poppa? (part 1)

“Why are you so concerned, Poppa?” my granddaughter said to me as we meandered along the pathway adjacent the Maribyrnong River in inner suburban Melbourne. At 11, she is an intelligent young girl full of life, creativity and vitality.

She likes to talk “mature talk,” as she puts it, so I spoke with words that would satisfy her curiosity. I shared my concerns about climate change, and how not doing something to arrest the damage it will cause worried me enormously.

She confided in me just how much she missed her friends at school because of what we refer to as nothing else but COVID-19. She is also an enthusiastic conversationalist.

Did she really understand just what is going to happen in the future? My thoughts drifted away, wondering what a future world might look like when she was my age.

My sojourn was interrupted when she nudged me in the side, saying,

“Poppa, but why are you so concerned about the planet’s future when you are so old.”

I gave a little chuckle and answered:

“Well, I have been on this planet for a long time, and I have grown rather fond of the old lady, her capacity to feed us, nurture us and many other things.”

We sat down on a grassy knoll at a place where the water quickened with some urgency before cascading over some large rocks.

“Tell me about the future, Poppa. Like after you are gone?” She asked. I replied with:

“Well, why don’t I write it down for you? There is a lot to think about and much of it you won’t understand today, but you must promise to read what I write on your birthday every year. That way, you might better understand what is happening to the world you live in. And you might question my opinions. Even write an essay about them. It might even help you to remember how much you’re Nanna and Poppa loved you.”

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy on not fighting the old, but on building the future” (Socrates).

September 2021

It is somewhat scary writing about the future, and given that I probably don’t have a lot of my allotted time left, I continue with some trepidation. My comments should be taken in the context that what I know is only surpassed by the enormity of what I don’t. Meaning we are all limited by the knowledge we have acquired.

Where to start? Well, there is no good place, so I will start with the hardest on the basis that COVID-19 and climate change will force the world to change in more ways than we can possibly imagine. I do not know what some of these changes might be, but most assuredly, they will come, so I will stick to what I do know.

The changes I speak of in economics, work, health, education and technology and many other matters will, because of climate warming and COVID-19, accelerate even quicker than we are starting to experience. There is no reason to imagine that the changes I have seen in technology might not triple in your lifetime. You need to go with the flow but question the changing ethics that come with them.

Adaptation, resilience and change will be the keywords of tomorrow.

Some observations

In my lifetime, people of my vintage have seen more change than in any other period in history. What is in store will be even more spectacular. Be optimistic and open to change.

Often, I lie in bed at night thinking about what the future might have in store for my children and their children. Like many parents, I worry about their jobs and their security.

It is well that interest rates are so low; otherwise the interest on the more than formidable amount we have borrowed might send us broke on its own.

Our future is inextricably aligned to how we as a society respond to the coronavirus pandemic and others that might follow and, of course, climate change. Both present a crisis for the government of the time and the one that wins the 2022 election.

Hopefully, they can rebuild or invent a new economic system that better reflects the distribution of our country’s wealth that recognises the contribution of the low paid. Something more equitable and fairer, recognising the humane equality of the people’s toil.

Governments worldwide must not just exist in a capitalist bubble where the rich become more prosperous and the poor become serfs.

Economics has to grow a heart and invest in a society that produces for the common good. A modern economy of global supply with fair ages and productivity. It must invest in the challenges of climate change and see the opportunity for a cleaner world with its economic rewards.

We must strive for new economics driven by futuristic ideas that challenge one to the other. Or one value over another. Economists will have to admit that a strong convergence between economics and society results in a marriage not only of convenience but of necessity.

Suppose we approach climate change and the coronavirus logically, instead of saying that they are environmental or social problems. In that case, we have to examine the social reasons we keep emitting greenhouse gases. The same goes for COVID-19. We know the virus’s direct cause, but living with it requires a better knowledge of human behaviour.

Whilst the epidemiology of COVID-19 is rapidly evolving, the core logic of its progression is relatively simple. People who live close (we are herding animals) mix socially, at work, or in households. Vaccines are becoming more readily available but living with the virus will become more the norm. Social practices might also have to change with social distancing and the wearing of masks becoming mandatory.

A simple method to reduce greenhouse gases is to produce less of what cases it. We need to question what we need over what we want. This might be an oversimplification, but I use it to explain the many ways the problem can be approached, from the simple to the complex.

Nevertheless, in 2021 I cannot see beyond a partial solution to both these problems that will lead to huge social and economic issues. Having said that, I don’t discount a cleaner planet with enormous financial possibilities for job creation.

Alas, we are not a proactive race. We are reactionary.

I will come back to jobs later. For the moment, let’s look at education. In Australia, students have been battered by the loss of teaching. During the Ebola crisis, just a few years back, girls in Africa suffered badly from sexual exploitation and, as a result, teen pregnancy and forced marriage followed. As a result, 20 million girls never returned to school. 129 million were already deprived of education. The loss of knowledge was enormous.

Australia is a knowledge-based nation. It is the foundation from which we have built our successes. In fact, we educate a large portion of the world’s student population. Parents and students in the main will have now realised the value of a good education. Teachers will be more appreciated. Still, there will be a residue of pupils who may simply drop out, thus adding to the current knowledge inequality.

Finding a place in society for its misfits will be a challenge and social science needs to think creatively so that these folk lead a worthwhile existence.

60 per cent of the world’s population don’t have access to the Internet.

Worsening inequalities in education urgently need addressing. Societies of the future might not survive without social harmony, participation of the disadvantaged, and equality of opportunity.

Those in government know that future success relies almost entirely on education. Not only now but into the future. The government will now have to turn its attention to educating the have nots and not just the privileged.

For the life of me, I fail to understand how anyone could vote for a party that thinks the existing education system is adequately funded and addresses the needs of the disadvantaged.

The COVID-19 and climate change crises will oblige whichever party wins the 2022 election to face many issues. The importance of which cannot be underestimated.

The most significant change, as I see it, will be personal. If we cannot change from pursuing individual narcissism to something akin to collective socialism, society will be changed irreversibly.

Well, that’s all for my first look into a changing world. My next post will include many other issues.

My thought for the day

We dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can make permanent that which makes us feel secure. Yet change is in fact part of the very fabric of our existence.


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  1. BB

    Aye John Lord, we live in a exponentially fast changing world now, with great uncertainty for future generations.

    This RW L/NP Government headed by Morrison prides itself on kowtowing to Fossil Fuel Pirates and Murdoch’s insidious MSM.
    Defunding education, making university expensive is high on L/NP policies & agendas. Limiting Humanities to only the wealthy.
    Keeping “Quiet Australians” dumb, passive, pliable and voting against their better interests is the L/NP’s main modus operandi.

    So folks, it’s crunch time, the only way to get rid of the L/NP is to make sure another party wins the election.. Wake up please.
    Which other party could possibly gather enough votes to topple the L/NP? The Greens? Independents? Mmm, a conundrum.

    I hope the Greens & Labor are able, in the interests of all Australians and the future, to bury any hatchets and form a coalition.
    Together they can sweep the L/NP from office and into oblivion for good. All decent Australians need to work together for all.

    It’s of zero surprise to me that all efforts are out to limit any real exposure for anybody from the Labor party, especially Albo.
    The MSM controlled by Murdoch &co are complicit in collusion with RW forces to denigrate and cast aspersions on Labor!

    At the Federal elections put the L/NP LAST on your ballot paper. Don’t be fooled. Put Labor or Greens 1st & 2nd.

  2. Terence Mills

    ‘Morning John

    Surely, if the Ruby Princess and more recently the overseas aircrews in NSW taught us anything it is that we must have strong border controls to stop the importation and spread of COVID-19 and its variants.

    This is what Qld and WA are doing domestically in the absence of any federal leadership.The feds you will recall still insist that they are not responsible for border protection when it comes to human infections and diseases, only Johnny Depp’s dogs and other livestock are they responsible for.

    Yes, there is a certain inevitability that COVID variant Delta will be introduced into WA and Qld (and Tasmania) – as the recent incidence onboard overseas cargo vessels showed in WA – but surely, until effective vaccination of at least eighty percent of our national population has taken place, border control is not only necessary but essential.

    This federal government have been comparing WA and Qld to the cartoon cavemen the Crudes, afraid to come out into the big wide world. But it is Morrison and Frydenberg and their appalling ministerial lineup who have been living in a cave when it comes to their constitutional responsibility for national quarantine at our borders which they continue to neglect.

    Their answer to COVID is call the [spin] doctor and blame somebody else !


    Conservatism is the antithesis of change which is why the Coalition cling to the past, which we all know, is where they live and breathe. They have managed over the past decades, with the utterly ruthless support of the media, and their own corrupt means, to convince less than knowledgeable Australians that it is in their own interests to maintain the current system of patronage, that even those who slave for a bare living will somehow enter the ranks of the affluent if they just continue to place their faith in the crooks and charlatans.

    The tradies are typical of the selfishness and greed that has taken over the population. As long as they can drive around in expensive shiny gas guzzling utes and plan Bali holidays every 6 months, they couldn’t be bothered to look further than the the x marks next to the Coalition on the ballot paper. This is nation of smug selfish bastards who care little or nothing about anything, but themselves.

  4. Keitha Granville

    thanks Terence for adding Tasmania, as an afterthought :p

    We have been community Covid free since about June last year, longer than any other state. We have the luxury of the moat I know, but we also have a Premier who has not been afraid to say no – to the PM, to other states, to anyone who thinks we should open our doors. We mostly live as we were, but we distance, we check in, and we are mindful of others. We are also the best at vaccinating currently, in spite of the Feds slow rollout of vaccines. Tasmanians follow the rules.
    During the early surge last year onnthe coast, an large area was ring fenced and all the people had to stay in. They did. It must have been ghastly, but they stayed in to protect the rest of us. We are lucky.
    We will NOT be told by anyone when to open the doors, it will be when it’s safe.

  5. B Sullivan

    BB “I hope the Greens & Labor are able, in the interests of all Australians and the future, to bury any hatchets and form a coalition.
    Together they can sweep the L/NP from office…”

    The ten per cent of the voting population that consistently vote for the Greens are spread all across Australia instead of being concentrated in the same electorates as is the case with the five percent of voters who support of the National Party. Consequently Greens voters are fortunate to have even one representative in parliament. Their preferences tend to flow to Labor as the lesser of two evils, but it still doesn’t effect the outcome of elections. Greens votes simply do not win fair representation in the Lower House that determines government. This is not even recognised as a seriously flaw in Australian democracy. Until Greens voters are given equal representation with other voters there is no way that together with the Labor Party they can sweep the L/NP from office.

    Terence Mills, “until effective vaccination of at least eighty percent”

    Notice that advocates of “living with COVID” always say we should open up when vaccination rates are at eighty per cent (though now they are tending to push for seventy per cent. They never say “when only one in every five people are at risk of infection”. That doesn’t sound quite as acceptable.

  6. David John Mclean

    Morning John ,

    I feel reading part one of your article ,that if the decline of our society isn’t halted and turned around we will be leaving our children a failed state .

    This great article you have written could of been written by Bernie Sanders . I will forward to my children , living safely in Queensland ATM .



  7. wam

    The pool is warming up, lord. Doesn’t pollies and christ or extreme politics get a run in the worries stakes? Moir in his 4 word conclusion sets the scene and explains why labor loses to an inept government. Is there an alternative? Labor’s saddled with millstones – the lies about debt, the lies about boats and the lies about the loonies. Sadly the extremist’s antics of 2019 earned them cash but cost them relevance in balance rendering them valueless for a coalition. The bandit is willing to repeat such tactics till labor is broken but he, like some here do not understand the word coalition, in the government sense and 10% extremists are not worth a pinch of poop. Leaving the expression ‘labor and the greens’ as labor’s permanent millstone and scummo’s best slogan. We can hope scummo is so bad that albo can, despite the bandit’s plan, fall over the line and not drown in coal.

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