Many people are still absorbing the flurry of Australian Government climate, energy and "Big Gas" announcements. They make up a confusing and contradictory "wish list". Some of them relate to important ideas. Too much of the whole package relates to the wishful thinking of our mining industry biased government, manifest in statements which say that climate mitigation cannot be allowed to impact our "economy". We still tell ourselves the big economy lie, which is that we need to keep growing our economy.
This is ludicrous, because climate change is already impacting our economy. Too much of our economy is seriously tied up with green house gas emissions, including "Big Gas". We are not defining what is really important for our economy. Failure of sufficient action now dooms the economy later on. Damage and withdrawal of many parts of our economy cannot be avoided. What is missing are plans to have a climate safe economy. And this is entirely possible now. We already know how.
In fact a lot of elements, like "hydrogen" industry, and "carbon capture and storage" are more sell slogans for the mining industry, that we have been hearing for a while. For Big Gas in particular, they are wishes rather than current growth-viable technology. They are not important compared to the need to halve global greenhouse gas emissions in the next ten years. We now need to reduce emissions faster than we can develop energy replacements for them.
Mining economy, and the Australian government, is all about exporting greenhouse gas emissions
The Australian government seems to have no other central purpose. All other national considerations are only designed to keep the society together just enough, so that the mining industry can continue on as before. The "Wish List" is ludicrous, because climate change is already impacting our economy. Mining industry is not exempt. Economies are linked in to the network of complex living systems of our entire global. Economies will stand or fall according to how much damage we do to the heat retention control systems of our planet. Our planetary heat retention systems are well enough understood by decades of climate science studies. Our planets heat retention is regulated by atmosphere long-lived greenhouse gases, and how our massive oceans can store or release immense amounts of heat energy and carbon dioxide. If their were no long lived greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, our planet would be a ball of ice. There is plenty of evidence that this happened something like 650 million years ago, when biological evolution began to get interesting.
Big Gas is a big greenhouse gas emitter
Too much of our economy is seriously tied up with green house gas emissions, including "Big Gas". Failure of sufficient action now dooms the economy later on. Damage and withdrawal of many parts of our economy cannot be avoided. What is missing are equitable and rational plans to adapt to the long term worst case already on its way. If much worse than 2 degrees C, from science evidence of the past, our planet flips into a stable "hot-house" configuration, with no ice caps. To reverse a hot-house earth, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will need to fall below pre-industrial levels ( < 250 ppm), to get the ice caps back. We already passed the stable upper limit for a cooler planet ( > 350 ppm), in 1990, so every day the possibility of avoiding hot-house earth is evaporating as fast as our polar ice caps. The current rate of rise is about 2.5 ppm every year, which is directly related to the size of global production and consumption, which is our "economy". Maybe in 10 years time it will be close to 440 ppm, at our current rate. That will be simply terrible, given what we know now.
It is time for another School Climate Strike Event, on 25th September 2020. This time there are many relatively diffuse events, in stead of big crowds, with small groups and local targets, all on the same date around the world. To think globally is to act locally. Some Parramatta Climate Action people will be at a Parramatta event.Greenhouse gas emissions depend on size of economic production/consumption - #people X average consumption
This insistence on the "economy" being the ultimate system, the size and "health" of which justifies any and all policies, is a misplaced religious faith. Keeping faith requires a belief that if the economy running efficiently, as if it were apart from everything else, all of the rest of reality, and still be OK. The key problems lies in the notion of productivity. Not the productivity of the economy, or workers in general, but in the productivity of the resources sectors. The net energy of oil, coal and gas is always declining. The scale and quantity of mining operations increases, but their resource efficiencies are always falling, and the amount of energy and complexity of effort increases to get the next accessible resource. As we take more of non-renewable resources, the remainder are further away and harder to get, no matter how big and proficient we can build more machines to access the next resource location.
Meanwhile a global species mass extinction is underway
Where does all the production stuff go? What and where is it taken from? The waste products of "economic" production accumulate and are spreading out all around us. It is easiest to change all of this quickly by reducing our our total consumption. Meanwhile a report on the state of all the other global species, apart from our "economic domesticates", says they are mostly collapsing. In the recent article "the dying planet", a review of the "Living Planet Report 2020", the extent of species devastation is noted to be enormous.The economy may be fine for a little while longer, while living systems continue to be wiped out. Another 40 years of global warming, much of it already "locked-in" may complete the job by 2060. Our global economy has no more room to grow, and can only shrink, as its supplies of everything become scarce.
According to the Report, on a worldwide basis, two-thirds (2/3rds) of wild vertebrate life has vanished in only 46 years or within one-half a human lifetime. - https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/09/23/the-dying-planet-report-2020/
What if, suddenly the economy could no longer rely on mining of now scarce minerals and fossil fuels. The result is our economy is forced to become a "regenerative economy". This is a finite planet. What cannot be regenerated, cannot be used, cannot exist in the future. On the other hand, what can be regenerated, has long term abundance. Regeneration is essential to sustainable abundance. This is the trick that living systems have learned. Life here is made of the commonest materials, encoded in the arrangements of common materials. These can be regenerated forever, as long as our global climate stays within limits suitable for life. Our growth economy is mostly dependent on one-time usage flows of materials, whose best sources are disappearing very fast. The sustainable size of a global circular economy, is only a small subset of the species lives and materials we now heedlessly squander. Only biological life has evolved the this trick, of using the flows of solar energy, to power and maintain the life systems of the biosphere. A regenerative economy is most likely to be all biology management, and not much technology.
Non-renewable parts of economy are already in irreversible terminal decline
The only available renewable resources come from nature. They include solar energy, and the ability of diverse species to grow and thrive in stable ecosystems, and the stable uses of land, water, soil and species, that make up our nations ecological "carrying capacity". The non-renewable systems of mining will not be able to supply sufficient minerals to build renewable energy systems for our nation forever. Some kinds of elements from the chemical "periodic table" are already in short supply. Recycling, reuse, repair will also not continue forever, for many kinds of our current technological systems, including our yet unfinished NBN - fibre-optic networks, which promise to help ease our departure from biological reality, and contribute to our "productivity".
Net energy is falling, extraction costs are rising
It must be apparent by now, that the resource productivity of the mining industry in Australia is falling. This process is irreversible, is a consequence of natural law. We already are not able to maintain level of purchases and maintain the flow of all the goods and services that are required by our social institutions. Every year, state government include more cuts to Hospitals, Universities, Schools, Welfare. All gradually losing their supports from our economic systems. Our economic systems are actually failing on their own terms. At the moment the budget juggling has reached a critical stage. Aged care homes and Universities are having the economic rugs pulled out from under them, and so are the renters in large numbers of homes around the nation.
No way to grow, no profits to make
Big mining cannot scale up any bigger to achieve reasonable marginal profits. Their tax exemptions cannot go any lower. Production costs are not going to fall. The number of people that cannot afford their products keeps increasing. The demand for their products falls. Environmental loss and side effects keep increasing, until the economy collapses enough to let living systems breath again.
No more gains, means system collapse
A definition of civilization stagnation, and forced collapse, is that of negative marginal gains to increasing size and complexity. That is where we are now, going nowhere fast, inside a global fossil fuel powered cooker. We in Australia, once-lucky rich, natural-wealth consuming people in Australia, are still among the most privileged. We are overdue t experience the worst parts of our global predicament that this behavior causes. It is the karma of a finite biological planet.
Australian government meets the decline with "cut-off"
The most important bits of the economy, for the past few decades of Australian governments, have been raw mining exports, of iron ore, coal and gas. Manufacturing, value add, and the entire agricultural sector get last priority. In our dependency we have lost resilience. Service occupations and Public Education, Health and Welfare systems have provided most of the employment. In our network-linked economy, these are the first to be sacrificed. They depend on purchased resources from primary production, whose costs and prices are rising. Ever-rising system costs of energy, land materials leaves less money to run state services and social systems. Reallocation of costs, and reduced consumption by all, needs a social equity mechanism to work its way through our economy. This becomes most brutal when people are simply "cut off". Cut-off is the current policy setting, which deprives people of means to meet biological needs - food, water, clothing and shelter. Money is the currency of survival. Those that cannot get it are cut off.
The economy is all about keeping people desperate for work
Our mining industry Australian government prefers to not support the communities in transition from mining, because to do so would remove some of the political pressure for new coal and gas mines. Even though the number of available jobs in mining is limited. Work insecurity is what is used by states to keep workers impaled and wriggling on their political hooks.
We are just another species temporarily escaped from biological control
What is the economy for? Interlinked and networked within and without with the "Economy" are our real biological, cultural and social lives, and their biological relationships to all the other species of the biosphere. What simple words are available to categorise "non-economic" whole. How about "Real Life" or "Reality". It is sad reflection of our focus on things "economic", that the bigger picture of "Humanity" as a social species doesn't have a simple, commonly used word in our language. In any case it would be "Real life as perceived by humans" and not the greater reality which we can only capture a small part of inside our limited senses and minds.
Don't feed the human predators, it only encourages them
"Human Ecological Communities" describes a better part of our reality, but it is too sanitised. Overall we act as a predator species, towards nature and foreign human communities. State politicians to often commit to a war path. Most times tended to go while trying to stamp out all notions of "socialism" and "communism". Particularly these notions can lead to revolutions and overthrow of leaders, so they are considered most dangerous. Concepts of "environmentalism" are anathema to governments captured by mining industry. Australian federal government now wants nothing at all to do with environmental regulation. States community awareness is cut down to state government management size, by restricted military, bureaucratic, monetary, and knowledge systems tools available.
Competition and survival is regulated by money
Our predator instincts when inside our State controlled mind enclosures, aim towards a "deregulated" abstract monetary "market-economy". Our money systems are allowed to become a master social status controller, which is used to set political priority, and value to the state. Unemployment is our form of "market selection", by which markets regulate the desirability of occupations aligned with economic social status.
So many wars, we will always end up having more
Between nations, absolute military advantage skews trade terms and application of sanctions. Human reality of its ecological expansion is rather gritty and full of foulness such as violence, genocide, and extinctions of other species. Competition in all these arenas is more likely to happen when communities exceed their local systems natural carrying capacity. States are competitive war-like machines, that feed on new energy and material resources by any state become a competition for all. Territory and dominance games, wars, slaughter and tribute, have been playing out since the first city-state civilization. Keeping people desperate for work enables the creation of armies for killing.
Fear of domination, but a desire to dominate
Our nations governments determination not to take a step backwards in its grasp of economic might, includes a tremendous underlying fear of "falling behind" when measured up to the economic , and therefore "military" powers of any of the possible foreign governments that may decide in future to dominate in any combative arena.
Economy is a cover-up for biological competition
Actual biological, cultural and social needs are always out of sync in many ways, with what our "economy" can provide. Access to the goods and services is never measured out down to actual needs, since these are a matter of loudness and status in the community political arena.
Civilisations are less resilient than you think, and so are civilised humans
To a great extent, people survive and grow because of the inherited resilience of our biological and social natures. Even in rich nation like Australia, some people always end up getting a "raw deal", and the other end of the distribution has far too much. It should be the states function to enable sufficient for everyone's biological needs. Rationally this could be done, but instinctively politicians don't want to try. The fossil fuel state cannot survive without a healthy "Human ecological community". It is fast getting sicker. Our longer lives are actually a sign that nature is no longer constantly testing our genetic and phenotypic mettle, apart from all the disease organisms we have picked up from other creatures, including our domesticates.
Humans are a species undergoing rapid degeneration with numbers that need controlling
We have been "de-evolving" and "de-conditioning", since the time of our hunter gatherer forebears, due to animals, agriculture, and now fossil fuelled energy machines replacing robust human muscles and minds. It may be a surprise to know that humans have acquired biological characteristics of a "domesticated species" , over our past 200,000 years of species existence, as much as our dogs and house cats. The global states which now impacted most by global viral pandemic, due to failure to understand exponential growth, show the downside weakness of our very overpopulated and overcrowded biologic conditions, which are very unnatural for a predator species our physical size, not to mention also being a constant source of existential stress. So many other people and nations to worry about, that good government is impossible. We have exterminated or nearly so now, all the other former large predator species and mammals bigger than us. We are the most likely next to go. We are now inside our own "rodent chambers" doing our own experiment of unlimited consumption and rising population. The behavioural results have some resemblance to the original rodent population experiments of Calhoun.
All global economies that specialize as minerals exporting states are in decline. The only path for them is to consider the unavoidable "transition". For Australia more gas exports, are unreasonable. First because of global warming. Second because the marginal returns are decreasing. Third because the only way to get a decent price is to reduce global oversupply, in this time of global economic decline. Fourth, as a non-renewable resource, we should conserve it for the most very important uses only, for when our species population falls to a more sustainable size. In which case, we probably won't be needing fossil fuel resources at all.
Save something for our future selves
Once humans were spaced out and resilient as a "Human ecological community", because that is what we really are. Only the very temporary eye-blink of time, has industrial fossil fuel civilisation become a global plague and blight on our planet. A crumbling collapse follows us as an after-shock of our all-consuming growth spurt. Now we can sneer at going back to the "stone age". Perhaps it will take a few thousand years to go back. Maybe sooner if we keep trying to consume everything now.
The future is biology or nothing.
Science fiction authors do come up with ideas of space travel and self sustaining technological human - machine cultures. So far our physicists and engineers have found non-biological life, AI and space-travel to be much harder than can be imagined. Our increasing sophisticated and miniaturised machine avatars can do remote science explores for us, but not us. Biology and evolution on this planet have long since cracked these mysteries, and we haven't figured it how our own biology systems work yet. There isn't that much time left before we end up destroying the whole thing.
Our biology is underpinned by complex nano-machines, known as proteins, and information technology , of strings of nucleic acids. Even bacteria are incredibly complex. We still don't understand much of how they work, let alone how they got that why. The general outlines are outlined by our sciences and plausible theories, but their are still many gaps. Our fossil fuelled machine culture might as well be a stone age one, but only much more destructive.
We are now in the process destroying our life support systems, the only real things that matter, which is the gift of life, the technology of biology, the diversity of species, invented uniquely on this planet. This planet with its biologic systems is our creator. It is unfortunate that the only major god some of us seem to believe in is an image of ourselves. There is no after-life. Life is all we are and can be. We have to learn all the unwritten rules of biological life, and become guided by the limits of what they say.
Some other nations and cultures are at least trying do it so much better
Meanwhile, our planets biggest and most productive and influential economy, China, has announced it will work towards a nation goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2060. Now that's what I call a real competitive state leadership. However it is the wrong time frame and wrong target. If global emissions cannot be halved in the next ten years, we will have missed the global climate safety bus. There is strong evidence that this goal is achievable. Success for this requires cooperation and behavioural determination which will guide us how to proceed further towards zero overall emissions. Setting this goal and taking first steps is the most important goal we can now have. Sad that governments have not caught up in understanding, and so it is up to every individual who can understand, to make the goal happen.
Halving emissions can happen quickly now, only vested interests are holding us back
Christiana Figueres shares her stubbornness and optimism with us, to motivate us with how to achieve the necessary changes in the next ten years, in this recent ABC "Big Ideas" radio interview. For Australia to come to the global climate response party, we need to stop electing mining industry governments, and some more of us will have to do more civil disobedience. Because the "power brokers" that run our political systems while being in climate systems denial, are still forty years behind on climate science, and their voices have to be ignored, or at best dragged kicking and screaming into our future. They have to be made powerless by our actions. Her recent book is a simple guide to what we are already capable of doing to make our future happen.
Ten years or less, to halve global industrial greenhouse gas emissions. The machine age green house gas emissions must be choked down to something more sustainable before it kills us all. The sun will still shine, and biological systems will then still be able to provide.