In recent virtual meetings of local activist groups, I heard cautions against publishing anything that compares, or contrasts the new viral epidemic, and economic shutdown responses to it, with our ever present global heating emergency. We are not even supposed to mention the latter, but are asked to spend more time building our resilience and social support networks. We are supposed to wait until things are back to normal. I know I am going to be very bad at heeding both admonitions. This was very effective reverse psychology. I throw my caution to the wind.
There some dangers in continuing to harp on our dangers of our very real growing long emergency, during this initial time of immediate danger, shutdown and global panic. It must be really annoying for some, to be told, that this sort of gradual economic shutdown is a great and good start towards a big decline in global GDP and linked greenhouse gas emissions. Panic buying shouts belief. This is the only real possible and necessary response to our long emergency. And we have only a short number years left in which to accomplish this in a permanent way. The faster this gets done, the better off future climate conditions will be for all of us. Talk of getting back to where we were with economic growth as normal is crazy money talk. We see fossil fuel extraction industry desperadoes that are still trying to "go for broke" in expanding production as part of our genocidal madness.
"Scheme" is the right word. The coal scheme for Indian billionaire Adani is another instance of Australian state and federal governments coal favouritism, letting Adani get away with dodging tricky legal hurdles. Adani gets the sorts of favours from government ministers that tend to be associated with corruption. In the larger scheme of favour exchange, Clive Palmer admits his $83 million dollar spend on advertising in Queensland and elsewhere, give enough preferences to get the LNP coalition into government. Now the Federal government LNP owes Clive a really big time favour, and Clive wants the Galilee coal projects to go ahead, because his own coal mining lease project is next in the Galilee Basin pipeline. This appears to be a clear case of rank corruption, stinky dead ten days cat on your front doorstep variety, obvious, of the highest magnitude and involving the highest levels of Australian government.
Also everyone on the deal is protected by a massive SEP of public media blindness field - It must be another Somebody Else's Problem, with no federal ICAC and apparently no charges or laws broken. Wait, there was a law broken. Why wasn't the environment water trigger legislation invoked? And so the ACF is taking the federal government to court, based on Australia law.
Adani's water scheme, labelled the North Galilee Water Scheme (NGWS), is a pipeline allowed to take water, 12.5 billion litres yearly, from the Suttor River for its coal mine to wash coal and suppress dust. This is supposed to be during periods of high flows. To store most of that for the rest of the year, it will fill a dam capacity up to 10 billion litres. The Suttor is part of the river system that feeds into the Lake Dalyrymple, behind the Burdekin Dam. The water flows down the Suttor are highly variable and seasonal. Some years will have a season of extreme rainful with floods. The rest of the time, and with years in drought its flows will be down to almost nothing.
Our "too many coal politicians" government of Australia can only carry on as if all is well on the climate front. They wear a black hole of wilful climate ignorance. They are walking voids of climate know-nothing, surrounded by a refractive blackness of coal. With such magical cloaks of climate invisibility, global heating cannot be seen when looking outside. Like Scott Morrison, they prefer to gaze in rapt worship of black lumps of coal, than look at any other part of the world around them. Nothing can be said to them about a climate emergency, without it disappearing down a memory hole.
The climate invisibility cloak isn't actually made of coal, but made from oodles of slush money going overseas, that comes from selling coal.
Greens MP Adam Bandt has introduced the Climate Emergency Declaration bill into federal parliament. Who in the ranks of the government dare to publicly acknowledge the extent of our climate systems emergency? Which of our government representatives, will take a peek out from underneath their blankets of fears, threats and silence, vote against their governments conformity to vested interests, and support this bill?
There are but a few Liberal MPs that have signed on to the Parliamentary Friends of Climate Action Group, and publicly said that our government needs to do more. Sadly there seems to be no more than about six of them.
The crusty old Australian constitution has Section 44, which is used to ensure that members of parliament do not have divided loyalty away from the good of Australia, towards a foreign power. At the time it was drawn up, international mining corporations with billion dollar budgets did not exist.
Corporate multinational budgets are bigger than the governments of many smaller nations. The purchase of Australia ministerial decisions by foreign corporations is an ongoing process that is allowed to proceed unchallenged and unchecked, and seems to be a major cause of failures and reversals of Australian climate policy for decades.
Politics, especially when our leaders utilise the media, is almost indistinguishable from marketing. Denial by marketing becomes all inclusive. Sticking to the marketing sales line, means denial of climate emergency, denial of technology change, and denial of total systems change.
The summit was pre-sold out, and massively attended. All the main stage sessions were live streamed, so the total live audience, was much larger still.
For later reference, I hope that recordings of the sessions will be soon be available online. The parallel break out sessions will be made available as podcasts. I felt thoroughly brain smashed by 2 days of intense watching and listening, despite having a long interest in these issues. It is only 2 days later of sleep recovery and processing that I feel able to start writing about it. There were many interesting themes and threads to follow.
The worth of the conference includes being able to see together so many people that have a common view our climate emergency and urgency. The people who still need to publicly recognise our dire global and national climate emergency were not at the conference. What a wasted opportunity, as they could all have learned so much, since Australia urgently needs to set about reorganising our energy, economic, social and governance systems. We must cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 50% over the next 10 years. Forget about our economy, as it will be stuffed if we don't do it.
Thermal Coal mines are stranded assets, and so are oil and gas reserves, according to our global carbon budget. But we are still firmly on the global heating path, which is moving closer and faster on towards global mass extinctions and industrial civilisation collapse. The large foreign corporations still vested in economic growth, in Australia, have as their weapons the influence peddling of their industry associations, the "Minerals Councils", which are tightly linked to political parties both by donations and personnel. They are bent on retaining income from their invested capital, despite declining economic prospects. This is seriously detrimental for a viable future for Australian people.
The reason for this graphic, with a thermometer showing 1 to 5 degrees C of average global heating on the left, and the extinction symbol on the right, with a symbolic rising graph from left to right, is to display as a simple iconography, the dangerous association that so many of our fossil fool national governments and international corporations reject outright from their operational consciousness.
The extinction symbol itself as been adopted and made widely known by Extension Rebellion movement. This movement has resolved that we should tell the truth about climate change, to ourselves and the world, and change our system behaviours according to this truth.
Federal and State governments in Australia are still too much lying prone, and denying even their climate change denial, during our climate emergency multiple crises of drought and massive wildfire season, or are they just very prone to lying. They need to be shown real leadership. Hence I will be spending time and money on a rare interstate visit to this -- National Climate Emergency Summit - Melbourne - February 14-15 2020
Scott Morrison is under climate policy pressure, and he would be better off by calming down, really listening, becoming better informed, and not forcing out manic sound bytes in a panic.
This current media nibbles policy sales spiel sounds very defensive and rattled. Only the "good" or meaningless statistics are quoted --"Emissions today are 50 million tonnes less on average each year under our government than under the previous government" . What an over-under-qualified mind twister!
Australian total emissions have been steadily increasing over last four and a half years
Richard Dennis in a guardian article Jan 09th 2020, called Australian Conservative Politicians out for being "Trolls" on climate change, in political fracas during our climate expanded bush-fire season. Richard Dennis is an economist with "The Australia Institute" think tank, and he asks why conservatives connected to the coal industry completely ignore all the future costs when it comes to climate change.
In particular he referred to an often used myth in justifications of climate change denial. "CO2 is plant food", which seems to imply to the target audience - How could you be so stupid? Doesn't everyone knows that?
Catastrophic bushfires in south-eastern Australia, like this summer's ongoing catastrophe, have always been caused by combinations of weather patterns and fuel load, often the unfortunate synchronicity of circumstances. They are now labelled as 'unprecedented'. The main relevant causal circumstance change in the last 50 years, from 1970 onwards, is global heating.
Current Australian Government climate policy still follows the worst case scenario. For us in Western Sydney, and other parts of Australia, we can look forwards to a future of more unbearable heat impacts, of counting many more really hot days. Current climate policy is not acceptable.
Global business as usual has direct long term consequences of catastrophic global heating. This is the cause of climate changes and extremes that are destroying life as we know it. We know this from the confirmed predictions of climate models, which have been confronting everyone publicly since the 1970's.
What we have just seen happen at the global COP25, in this year of 2019, is real political failure of global corporations and governments of the fossil fuel blighted world to acknowledge they have direct responsibility for the climate system changes that are already happening, and could do much more about it, if they tried. They have again ignored a future predictive consensus of more than 50 years worth of climate models. The biggest nations in the global power game, refuse to ration their use of fossil fuel energy, despite being shown the dire global heating consequences. Who is to blame? What circumstances governs their behaviour?
Claims that the impact of "only a few degrees" of average heating will be tolerable, are very often found among the paid beneficiaries of the Coal, Oil and Gas industries, their flunkies, mistaken economists, and the Australian Government, and writers for the Murdoch Press. These people constitute the real driving "forcing" of global heating.
I just wonder how often the Liberal and Labor Parties of Australia, and politicians in other fossil fuel governments, have been listening to the money-lubricated reassurances of fossil fuel lobbyists, to the extent that they can politically dismiss all Climate Change concerns as alarmism without disturbance to their personal equanimity.
This is the current situation in Australia. Any lobbyist can select and quote the results that supposed distinguished neoclassical economists have published, which have bogus models to imply there isn't much to worry about with a few degrees of global heating.
Economics doesn't have nearly the same methodology rigour as climate science.
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. - (H. K. Menchen)
Politicians and many voters love the clear and simple parts, while even experts may have trouble figuring out why a simple answer is wrong. I should say in predicaments that are complex and wicked, almost any simplification is wrong.
Ideas from neoliberal economics are closest to the hearts of politicians, so they will tend to trust economic models with slight of obfuscation before hard climate science.
Nordhaus has even said that from his models, allowing 4 degrees of warming would be about optimum, for economies, given the costs of mitigation. Certainly, CEO's of fossil fuel companies operating in Australia have business plans that imply 3 or 4 degrees of warming. If only the thought of catastrophic climate change could stop them. The neoclassical economists have a simple denial cure for that.
They drastically understate the impact of climate change, and when the productive system starts to fall apart, and we need a political system that can cope with that, it won't be one using dollar bills, it will be one using bullets.