Death, denial and the toxic politics of climate change

5 04 2014

If you are not aware of the IPCC’s latest notoriously conservative warnings of the consequences of Climate Change, you are truly asleep at the wheel. Like out Prime Moronster, Tony Abbott, whose response to this report isn’t to announce a new climate policy that will actually create some steps towards reducing carbon emissions, but to instead take the opportunity to reinforce his existing discredited Direct Action policy, and attack the former Labor government’s carbon price……

palmergarnautThen we have Clive Palmer, in a televised debate with Ross Garnaut (now there’s a battle of intellects…) in which he said “scientists should be focusing on the 97 per cent of carbon dioxide that comes from nature”.  This guy not only votes, he’s a parliamentarian…!  What morons elected this moron?  How on Earth do we end up in this state of utter stupidity…?

The impacts of climate change are “severe, pervasive and irreversible” says the latest assessment from the IPCC. Global energy policy is directly responsible for growing risks around water and food security, species loss, ocean acidification and violent conflict.  In the words of US Secretary of State John Kerry (and he would know, right?), the cost of inaction is “catastrophic”.

Despite the unequivocal warnings, current economic priorities continue to trump global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The IMF estimates that ‘poor countries’ need $100 billion to offset the effects of climate change, yet this figure was removed from the policymakers’ IPCC summary at the last minute due to lobbying by richer nations afraid/incapable of footing the bill.  Oil and gas giant Exxon Mobil thinks it has nothing to worry about: in a report to shareholders the company claimed emissions reductions of 80 percent by 2050 were “highly unlikely”, and denied any of its reserves would end up as unburnable ‘stranded assets’.  Hah!  Who are they trying to kid…?  Oh yeah, the idiot shareholders who should have divested by now…

This contradiction is also apparent in UK energy policy.  On the one hand the Prime Minister sees climate change as man-made and “one of the most serious threats that this country and this world faces”, while on the other the possibility of a new fossil fuel boom based on shale gas appears to be politically irresistible.  The latest argument for fracking is greater energy independence from Russia – David Cameron described tensions over Ukraine as a “wake up call” and sees fracking as a “duty”. Well I guess freezing to death in the UK won’t be a lot of fun….

Europe’s dependence on Russian gas, in the light of the Ukraine crisis, was high on the agenda during Obama’s visit to Europe last week.  The President was hinting at the possibility of lifting US oil and gas export restrictions, in place since the 1970s.  Not sure where they’ll find this oil and gas, his support was, however, linked to the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal currently under negotiation between the US and the EU, a deal which aims to remove the regulatory differences between the US and European nations. If approved, such a deal would weaken European environmental regulations, while also handing corporations even greater powers to challenge national governments over measures including climate legislation and fracking regulations.  Australia is also under this threat with Abbott keen to sign the TPP.

Humans are deeply in denial about death.  They express this denial with distractions like consumerism or obsessively following their favourite footy team.  So is that why we’re standing on the edge of the climate change cliff?  About to jump like the proverbial lemmings…. too busy shopping or fixating over the EV’s latest blow-out.  Commentators, myself included, often put forward that it’s we ordinary people, with our self-absorption and resistance to change, who are the prime culprits in the world’s failure to act against climate catastrophe…

But is that really the case?

luckycountryBy focusing on the alleged failure of ‘ordinary people’ to tackle climate change, we take our eyes off the real culprits behind the drapes — the fossil fuel industry and arse licking governments, the best example being the one in Canberra.  ‘Big Fossil’ is the wealthiest and most powerful lobby in world history.  Any really serious attempt to tackle climate change would involve it giving up future profits that are potentially staggering.  Except that, as we know here, they are slowly but surely going broke as the cost of extraction climbs faster than revenues….  The failure of leadership is everywhere.

It’s a demonic bit of bad luck that, at this crucial moment in history, with time running out on the climate change clock, the world community is stuck with an aggressively moronic government in Canberra, whose crass loyalty to Big Coal has made Australia part of the obstruction process.

Abbott’s government, with the assistance of the WA and Queensland state governments, has undermined international climate negotiations, gutted Australia’s environmental review process, targeted environmental groups with harassing audits and championed unrestrained coal development.  Do we actually deserve the government ‘we’ elected….?

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5 responses

5 04 2014
Maponos

This denial is only going to get worse, well, until we plummet over the edge of the precipice!

5 04 2014
Lindsay

I do not know why there is so much emphasis on a particular politician, Prime Minister or otherwise. It makes no difference whatsoever. They are all the same irrespective of what words they use. If Kevin Rudd were Prime Minister it wouldn’t be all rainbows and unicorns. We’d still have free trade with China being fast tracked, the TPP, coal mining expansion, mining in the Tarkine; destructive immigration levels…..

There is not political party that would be elected on the basis of a comprehensive environmental policy that includes an immediate 60 percent reduction in fossil fuel use AND by extension a comparable reduction in the export of GHG producing commodities. About two thirds of Australian households receive some form of supplementary benefit from the Government. The Governments revenue comes from tax collected from PAYE serfs and big mining in particular. How many people do you know prepared to turn off that tap? Everyday I see hundreds of giant SUV/4WD vehicles carrying a single passenger. They are the most common type of vehicle in my regular urban neighborhood. Most people I know fly somewhere overseas at least once a year. They’re not bothered. They want the “Government” to fix everything. They don’t want their comfortable life disrupted, but they are quite happy to consume green. The bullshit is suffocating.

As Joseph Campbell said…”When we talk about settling the world’s problems, we’re barking up the wrong tree. The world is perfect. It’s a mess. It has always been a mess. We are not going to change it. Our job is to straighten out our own lives.” Not too many people prepared to slash their fossil fuel use by 80 percent; eat a simple vegan diet; stay close to home (even for holidays); refuse to take from or feed the beast of government and big business. What tey want to do is tick a box on election day and make everything good again.

6 04 2014
Don

Lindsay,

“About two thirds of Australian households receive some form of supplementary benefit from the Government.”

I must admit the above barb struck home with me.
Being an aged pensioner with a back injury (who worked till almost 70).

Much of what you say is true, although if I were to tell the government that I could live on half what the pension pays I would probably be considered to be demented.

I would disagree with your advocacy of a vegan lifestyle. It is not the sole answer to how we live. Permaculture repairs the damage caused by industrial farming and uses animals as part of the system whereas a vegan lifestyle can continue the damage caused by industrial farming.

However, when the looming collapse arrives it will solve many of the problems you mentioned. Reduced fossil fuel use, reduced resource use, no 4WDs, no jetaway holidays, very small pensions if any. The human cost will be great though, the result of short term planning.

6 04 2014
Lindsay

Thanks Don. My point was not aimed at self reliant people that need assistance. It was an indictment of our collective psyche that is so impotent that we look to “Government” to solve every problem and to support us cradle to grave, yet we are perplexed when we continually vote for the same political elites and get the same results. Then we rely on Corporations to identify and meet our needs with “products” and to provide us with the means to make a living. If we stop fighting “them” and simply withdraw our support of and dependence on the system, it will change all by itself. This means less certainty, harder work (physical, emotional, intellectual), slower progress, greater involvement in our communities, and of course more of us involved in the messy business of building consensus in community, regional and national groups when dealing with broader less localized issues. We have outsourced all the stuff of life to Politicians, Corporations, Educators, Journalists….we need to become the change we want to see in the world (Gandhi) and that commitment is beyond the scope of most, easier to lash out at Politicians and Corporations that only exist because we support them, work for them, pay them, admire them…you know the rest. For example I observed with some bemusement a well attended event protesting a road works project to which every attendee drove a car. The irony was palpable yet lost.

7 04 2014
Idiocracy

The bullshit is suffocating – love it! You Chaps have clearly taken the red pill! 🙂

Greenwash is rife with trendy urbanites… As another example, in a past life, the office I worked in decided to get everybody one of those plastic Keep Kup’s for their daily dose of caffeine as a ‘good thing’ to do for the environment. I refused the ‘Kup’ as a small protest on the basis that for one I don’t drink coffee and two that I was certain (and you can guess the outcome) everybody would have got their fleeting ‘green fix’ and forgotten about the cups within a week, returning to their daily disposable alternative.

So all that plastic was mined, manufactured and shipped for nothing… the very notion of consuming yourself to sustainability is asinine!

And If I hear one more finance reporter use the words ‘economic recovery’ I’m going to put a brick through the wireless! It’s been 5 years already… there is no recovery!!!

Suffocating bullshit such as this is exactly why I made the tree change and am now fixin’ to build my own permaculture patch.

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