Brace for impact….

21 11 2017

This piece is particularly interesting because it’s from someone who campaigns for the Scottish Greens. He’s also a scientist, so knows what’s going on better than most politicians.

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ianbaxter

Ian Baxter

Politics will not save us from abrupt climate change because we don’t want to be saved

By Ian Baxter

Forty years ago I was studying for a Physics degree at Edinburgh University. I chose Edinburgh because it offered a course which included Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, interests which have stayed with me since.

When I came across articles about the Greenhouse Effect, this intrigued me as a scientist, but also worried me as a human being, and although it was only a theory at the time, I felt the implications if true were so severe that at the very least, we should adopt the precautionary principle and take immediate action to prevent it.

It was this that led me to join the Ecology Party in 1979 and since then, politics for me has always been about climate change and the need to address it before it became unstoppable. In the seventies and eighties, the threat of an impending nuclear war was on everyone’s minds, but here was another existential threat to humanity that although distant, required no less attention to defuse or at least to quantify.

Then it was a theory and if proven, we still had time to do something about it. Forty years on and the Greenhouse Effect is now known as Global Warming or Climate Change. The effects predicted are not only happening, but they are happening much faster than predicted and events over the last three years have led me to believe that this is not only irreversible, but we are now entering a period of what is known as ‘abrupt climate change’, which will lead to the breakdown of society within 30 years and near human extinction by the end of the century.

To understand how this will happen so quickly, we need to appreciate that climate change is not linear. We are on an exponential curve. The three warmest years on record globally have been 2014, 2015 and 2016 (with 2017 set to join them).  Floods, droughts, wildfires and storms are this year setting records and records are not only being broken, but they are starting to be broken by some margin. We’re on an curve where not only will events happen more often and be more severe, but the rate at which they increase will itself be increasing. That’s what exponential means.

We also need to appreciate some of the deficiencies in climate modelling. Specifically, climate scientists (in common with nearly all scientists) are experts in their own fields only. Looking at a specific aspect of science in isolation is fine if nothing else is changing, but if everything else is changing, you need to take that into account if you’re predicting what will happen in the future.

There are around 70 feedback effects now kicking in, and few if any models are taking these into account. For example, scientists studying the Arctic sea ice may take into account higher sea surface temperatures, but not the incursion of water vapour (a greenhouse gas) into the Arctic resulting from a distorted jet stream, or the impact of soot on ice albedo from increased wildfires thousands of miles away.

A recent example is the speed with which this year’s Atlantic hurricanes strengthened from tropical storms to Category 5 hurricanes due to higher sea surface temperatures. This surprised meteorologists as the computer models were only forecasting Cat 2 or 3 at most. Only now are they recognising that the models are underestimating the effect of warmer sea surfaces and the additional energy and water vapour they provide.

As Peter Wadhams writes in his recent book ‘A farewell to ice’, to reverse the effects of man made carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would demand a switch in global focus on the scale of the post war Marshall plan. We would need not only to stop producing CO2 but also turn over many of our factories to producing carbon capture and storage machines, and we would need to start right now. The cost to the world economies would be huge, possibly running to over $100 Trillion.

If, and it’s still an if, we are capable of reversing the trajectory we’re on, there are no signs of a willingness to do so – neither from politicians nor people in general. CO2 takes over a decade to become fully effective as a greenhouse gas, and lingers in the atmosphere for decades. Methane (CH4) is 130 times as effective as a greenhouse gas in the first 3 years after release and due largely to melting permafrost is starting to rise rapidly in global concentration (another feedback).

So what are we actually doing about it? ‘Emissions’ as measured by countries themselves levelled out over the past three years – but are now rising once again. Leaving aside allegations that the figures have been doctored anyway, the extra CO2 from increasing wildfires is not included (as an example, the CO2 from those in British Columbia, just one Canadian province, this year equated to the annual emissions from 40 million cars on the road). The litmus test is the actual measure of CO2 in the atmosphere – now reaching a peak of around 410 ppm and rising at a record annual rate of around 2.5 ppm per year.

In 1989, the UN issued a warning that we had only ten years to address global warming before irreversible tipping points start kicking in. That was 30 years ago. Similar warnings have appeared since, none of them heeded. Instead of issuing warnings, more and more scientists are now coming round to the view that it really is too late. What I have witnessed over the last three years has led me to believe the same. We really are too late and are now entering the sixth mass extinction.

Too many articles on climate change contain the phrase “By 2100…” or “By the end of the century…”. That really is too far away for most people to treat as urgent. While it’s difficult to make predictions, it should be made clear that the catastrophic impacts of climate change will affect us well before then.

Within five to ten years I expect to see food prices rising well above inflation – perhaps by as much as 50% to 100% with some empty shelves appearing in supermarkets as specific crops are devastated (we already had a ‘taste’ of this earlier this year with courgettes and lettuce crops hit by unusual weather in Spain; world wine production is now at a 50 year low due to extreme weather events).

Wildfires are already becoming uncontrollable. Portugal has seen six times its average this year. There have been fires in Greenland and in Australia during its winter, not to mention the devastation in California, Canada and Siberia. Hurricanes are becoming stronger and appearing in unusual places (Ophelia was the strongest on record in the east Atlantic and Greece is currently being hit by what is called a ‘Medicane’). Sea surface temperatures need to be over 28.5 C for a hurricane to strengthen. The Mediterranean off Italy’s coast reached 30 degrees this year. With the right conditions, it would only take one stray east Atlantic hurricane to head into the Med to cause widespread devastation. I can easily see this happening within ten years. Elsewhere we will see hurricanes and typhoons strong enough to flatten cities within the next decade.

The economic implications will be immense. The impact of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in the US is expected to be around $400 Billion this year, not counting the wildfires in California and drought in Montana. Over the next decade, super hurricanes, flooding and drought will cause insurance companies to collapse. Banks will follow and pension funds will start to come under pressure. With food prices increasing way ahead of wages, disposable incomes will be hit hard, leading to worldwide economic depression.

And that’s not taking into account the hundreds of millions of climate refugees (already begun in the Caribbean). With the jet stream already getting seriously messed up, or if the Hadley cells become severely disrupted, it’s not out of the question that the Indian monsoon could fail permanently and within a year we have a billion people starving.

There’s a saying that if something is unsustainable it will not be sustained. Obvious, perhaps, but we have been living well beyond the sustainability of the planet for decades and continue to believe that somehow we can do so increasingly and indefinitely. That will not be sustained.

So for forty years I tried to warn people. Now I tell them it’s too late and we’re f***ed, they say I’m being too negative need to give people a positive message. OK then, will “We’re positively f***ed” do?, because when we could save ourselves nobody listened, and even now when they think we still can, there is absolutely no will to do so.

For a long time, we have needed to change our lifestyles and that, for most people, is a red line area. There are no quick fixes. We cannot continue with mass air transport – the only non polluting alternative to fossil fuels requires huge areas of land to be removed from food production, which is already coming under pressure due to climate change and increasing population. We need to stop owning cars (not just leaving them in the driveways) – the resource requirements and human rights implications of even switching to electric cars present largely insurmountable problems. And even if these problems can be fixed, the solution needs to come first, rather than assuming as always that the next generation will somehow pick up the bill and sort out the mess we are creating by our profligate lifestyles.

And so we continue to build more runways and roads, drill for more oil, burn more forests for palm oil plantations and clear the rainforests for agriculture and logging, despite the fact that these massive environmental problems are no longer a theory but are staring us in the face. But we keep on driving and keep on flying and keep on buying things we don’t need from halfway across the globe without the slightest thought that all this will kill our children.

I was perhaps naive to believe that politics would solve the problem. If the bottom line is that people will not change their lifestyles, then they will not vote for politicians who say we need to. So politicians will not tell people the truth and tell them instead that we can get by with replacing petrol cars with electric ones by some decade well in the future and convince people we’re all ‘doing our bit’ for the planet by planting a few wind turbines. They talk vaguely about carbon capture and how air transport is important for economic growth and without that we cannot tackle climate change. As a councillor I was the only one even vaguely interested in the council’s climate change plan (including both councillors and officers).

And people believe them because they want to. I’ve long maintained that people get the politicians they deserve (good and bad) and they certainly don’t want politicians to tell them they can’t have their cheap holidays in Spain. I joined the Ecology Party (which became the Green Party) because it was, and still is, the only party to come anywhere close to telling people the truth on climate change. That people are generally not in the least interested in the environment that keeps them alive is borne out by the derisory vote Greens get – around 2% support except where they campaign strongly on non-environmental issues.

And Green Party activists have also realised this. So they focus on being more user friendly and campaigning on issues that ‘matter to people’ like independence or austerity, rather than lose votes by telling people it’s about time they faced the harsh truth.

I’ve been accused of being too Utopian, that before we address climate change we need an independent Scotland, or a Socialist Republic, or something else. And those arguments were rational thirty years ago – after all, it’s the free market Capitalist system that brought us to this position. However, thirty years ago is not now – when your house is on fire, you don’t try and get ownership of the keys, you reach for the hose. When I attend a climate rally and see it attracts less than a tenth of the numbers at a Scottish independence rally, it brings home how insane our politics has become. What planet do these people expect an independent Scotland to exist on? Venus by the look of it.

So we might be f***ed, but should we give up? No, I don’t think so. We may not be able to stop the process, but we can slow it down and offer the next generation at least some kind of palliative care. I have not flown or owned a car for around 20 years and will continue that way. Because very soon my children’s generation will become angry with mine, and will ask why, in the face of so many warnings from scientists for decades, we did nothing about it.

It will be little consolation, but at least I will be able to say I tried.

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Nothing we do is sustainable….. been saying it for years now.

1 08 2013

Sustainability is destroying the Earth

By Kim / Stories of Creative Ecology

By Kim / Stories of Creative Ecology

Don’t talk to me about sustainability.  You want to question my lifestyle, my impact, my ecological footprint?  There is a monster standing over us, with a footprint so large it can trample a whole planet underfoot, without noticing or caring.  This monster is Industrial Civilization.  I refuse to sustain the monster.  If the Earth is to live, the monster must die.  This is a declaration of war.

What is it we are trying to sustain?  A living planet, or industrial civilization?  Because we can’t have both.

Somewhere along the way the environmental movement – based on a desire to protect the Earth, was largely eaten by the sustainability movement – based on a desire to maintain our comfortable lifestyles.  When did this happen, and why?  And how is it possible that no-one noticed?  This is a fundamental shift in values, to go from compassion for all living beings and the land, to a selfish wish to feel good about our inherently destructive way of life.

The sustainability movement says that our capacity to endure is the responsibility of individuals, who must make lifestyle choices within the existing structures of civilization.  To achieve a truly sustainable culture by this means is impossible.  Industrial infrastructure is incompatible with a living planet.  If life on Earth is to survive, the global political and economic structures need to be dismantled.

Sustainability advocates tell us that reducing our impact, causing less harm to the Earth, is a good thing to do, and we should feel good about our actions.  I disagree. Less harm is not good.  Less harm is still a lot of harm.  For as long as any harm is caused, by anyone, there can be no sustainability. Feeling good about small acts doesn’t help anyone.

Only one-quarter of all consumption is by individuals.  The rest is taken up by industry, agribusiness, the military, governments and corporations.  Even if every one of us made every effort to reduce our ecological footprint, it would make little difference to overall consumption.

If the lifestyle actions advocated really do have the effect of keeping our culture around for longer than it would otherwise, then it will cause more harm to the natural world than if no such action had been taken.  For the longer a destructive culture is sustained, the more destruction it causes.  The title of this article isn’t just attention-grabbing and controversial, it is quite literally what’s going on.

When we frame the sustainability debate around the premise that individual lifestyle choices are the solution, then the enemy becomes other individuals who make different lifestyle choices, and those who don’t have the privilege of choice.  Meanwhile the true enemy — the oppressive structures of civilization — are free to continue their destructive and murderous practices without question.  This is hardly an effective way to create a meaningful social movement.  Divide and be conquered.

Sustainability is popular with corporations, media and government because it fits perfectly with their aims.  Maintain power.  Grow.  Make yourself out to be the good guy.  Make people believe that they have power when they don’t.  Tell everyone to keep calm and carry on shopping.  Control the language that is used to debate the issues.  By creating and reinforcing the belief that voting for minor changes and buying more stuff will solve all problems, those in power have a highly effective strategy for maintaining economic growth and corporate-controlled democracy.

ravagedThose in power keep people believing that the only way we can change anything is within the structures they’ve created.  They build the structures in a way that people can never change anything from within them.  Voting, petitions, and rallies all reinforce the power structures, and can never bring about significant change on their own.  These tactics give corporations and governments a choice.  We’re giving those in power a choice of whether to grant our request for minor reform.  Animals suffering in factory farms don’t have a choice.  Forests being destroyed in the name of progress don’t have a choice.  Millions of people working in majority-world sweatshops don’t have a choice.  The 200 species who became extinct today didn’t do so by choice.  And yet we give those responsible for all this murder and suffering a choice.  We’re granting the desires of a wealthy minority above the needs of life on Earth.

Most of the popular actions that advocates propose to achieve sustainability have no real effect, and some even cause more harm than good.  The strategies include reducing electricity consumption, reducing water use, a green economy, recycling, sustainable building, renewables and energy efficiency.  Let’s look at the effects of these actions.

Electricity

We’re told to reduce our consumption of electricity, or obtain it from alternative sources.  This will make zero difference to the sustainability of our culture as a whole, because the electricity grid is inherently unsustainable.  No amount of reduction or so-called renewable energy sources will change this.  Mining to make electrical wires, components, electrical devices, solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal plants, biomass furnaces, hydropower dams, and everything else that connects to the electricity grid, are all unsustainable.  Manufacturing to make these things, with all the human exploitation, pollution, waste, health and social impacts, and corporate profits.  Fossil fuels needed to keep all these processes going.  Unsustainable.  No amount of individual lifestyle choices about electricity use and generation will change any of this.  Off grid electricity is no different – it needs batteries and inverters.

Water conservation

Shorter showers.  Low-flow devices.  Water restrictions.  These are all claimed to Make A Difference.  While the whole infrastructure that provides this water – large dams, long distance pipelines, pumps, sewers, drains – is all unsustainable.

Dams destroy the life of a whole watershed.  It’s like blocking off an artery, preventing blood from flowing to your limbs.  No-one can survive this.  Rivers become dead when fish are prevented from travelling up and down the river.  The whole of the natural community that these fish belong to is killed, both upstream and downstream of the dam.

Dams cause a lowering of the water table, making it impossible for tree roots to get to water.  Floodplain ecologies depend on seasonal flooding, and collapse when a dam upstream prevents this.  Downstream and coastal erosion results.  Anaerobic decomposition of organic matter in dams releases methane to the atmosphere.

No matter how efficient with water you are, this infrastructure will never be sustainable.  It needs to be destroyed, to allow these communities to regenerate.

The green economy

Green jobs.  Green products.  The sustainable economy.  No.  There’s no such thing.  The whole of the global economy is unsustainable.  The economy runs on the destruction of the natural world.  The Earth is treated as nothing but fuel for economic growth.  They call it natural resources.  And a few people choosing to remove themselves from this economy makes no difference.  For as long as this economy exists, there will be no sustainability.

For as long as any of these structures exist: electricity, mains water, global economy, industrial agriculture – there can be no sustainability.  To achieve true sustainability, these structures need to be dismantled.

What’s more important to you – to sustain a comfortable lifestyle for a little longer, or the continuation of life on Earth, for the natural communities who remain, and for future generations?

Recycling

We’re made to believe that buying a certain product is good because the packaging can be recycled.  You can choose to put it in a brightly-coloured bin.  Never mind that fragile ecosystems were destroyed, indigenous communities displaced, people in far away places required to work in slave conditions, and rivers polluted, just to make the package in the first place.  Never mind that it will be recycled into another useless product which will then go to landfill.  Never mind that to recycle it means transporting it far away, using machinery that run on electricity and fossil fuels, causing pollution and waste.  Never mind that if you put something else in the coloured bin, the whole load goes to landfill due to the contamination.

Sustainable building

Principles of sustainable building: build more houses, even though there are already enough perfectly good houses for everyone to live in.  Clear land for houses, destroying every living thing in the natural communities that live there.   Build with timber from plantation forests, which have required native forests to be wiped out so they can be replaced with a monoculture of pines where nothing else can live.  Use building products that are slightly less harmful than other products.  Convince everyone that all of this is beneficial to the Earth.

Solar power

Solar panels.  The very latest in sustainability fashion.  And in true sustainability style, incredibly destructive of life on earth.  Where do these things come from?  You’re supposed to believe that they are made out of nothing, a free, non-polluting source of electricity.

If you dare to ask where solar panels come from, and how they are made, its not hard to uncover the truth.  Solar panels are made of metals, plastics, rare earths, electronic components.  They require mining, manufacturing, war, waste, pollution.  Millions of tons of lead are dumped into rivers and farmland around solar panel factories in China and India, causing health problems for the human and natural communities who live there.  Polysilicon is another poisonous and polluting waste product from manufacturing that is dumped in China.  The production of solar panels causes nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) to be emitted into the atmosphere.  This gas has 17 000 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

Rare earths come from Africa, and wars are raged over the right to mine them.  People are being killed so you can have your comfortable Sustainability.  The panels are manufactured in China.  The factories emit so much pollution that people living nearby become sick.  Lakes and rivers become dead from the pollution.  These people cannot drink the water, breathe the air or farm the land, as a direct result of solar panel manufacturing.  Your sustainability is so popular in China that villagers mobilise in mass protest against the manufacturers.  They are banding together to break into the factories and destroy equipment, forcing the factories to shut down.  They value their lives more than sustainability for the rich.

Panels last around 30 years, then straight to landfill.  More pollution, more waste.  Some parts of solar panels can be recycled, but some can’t, and have the bonus of being highly toxic.  To be recycled, solar panels are sent to majority-world countries where low-wage workers are exposed to toxic substances while disassembling them. The recycling process itself requires energy and transportation, and creates waste products.

Solar panel industries are owned by Siemens, Samsung, Bosch, Sharp, Mitsubishi, BP, and Sanyo, among others.  This is where solar panel rebates and green power bills are going.  These corporations thank you for your sustainable dollars.

Wind power

The processing of rare earth metals needed to make the magnets for wind turbines happens in China, where people in the surrounding villages struggle to breathe in the heavily polluted air.  A five-mile-wide lake of toxic and radioactive sludge now takes the place of their farmland.

Whole mountain ranges are destroyed to extract the metals.  Forests are bulldozed to erect wind turbines.  Millions of birds and bats are killed by the blades.  The health of people living close to turbines is affected by infrasound.

As wind is an inconsistent and unpredictable source of energy, a back-up gas fired power supply is needed.  As the back-up system only runs intermittently, it is less efficient, so produces more CO2than if it were running constantly, if there were no turbines.  Wind power sounds great in theory, but doesn’t work in practice.  Another useless product that benefits no-one but the shareholders.

Energy efficiency

How about we improve energy efficiency?  Won’t that reduce energy consumption and pollution?  Well, no.  Quite the opposite.  Have you heard of Jevon’s paradox?  Or the Khazzoom-Brookes Postulate?  These state that technological advances to increase efficiency lead to an increase in energy consumption, not a decrease.  Efficiency causes more energy to be available for other purposes.  The more efficient we become at consuming, the more we consume.  The more efficiently we work, the more work gets done.  And we’re working at efficiently digging ourselves into a hole.

The economics of supply and demand

Many actions taken in the name of sustainability can have the opposite effect.  Here’s something to ponder: one person’s decision not to take flights, out of concern about climate change or sustainability, won’t have any impact.  If a few people stop flying, airlines will reduce their prices, and amp up their marketing, and more people will take flights.  And because they are doing it at lower prices, the airline needs to make more flights to make the profit it was before.  More flights, more carbon emissions.  And if the industry hit financial trouble as a result of lowered demand, it would get bailed out by governments.  This “opt-out” strategy can’t win.

The decision not to fly isn’t doing anything to reduce the amount of carbon being emitted, it’s just not adding to it in this instance.  And any small reduction in the amount of carbon being emitted does nothing to stop climate change.

To really have an impact on global climate, we’ll need to stop every aeroplane and every fossil-fuel burning machine from operating ever again.  And stopping every fossil-fuel burning machine is nowhere near the impossible goal it may sound.  It won’t be easy, but it’s definitely achievable.  And it’s not only desirable, but essential if life on this planet is to survive.

The same goes for any other destructive product we might choose not to buy.  Factory-farmed meat, palm oil, rainforest timbers, processed foods.  For as long as there is a product to sell, there will be buyers.  Attempting to reduce the demand will have little, if any, effect.  There will always be more products arriving on the market.  Campaigns to reduce the demand of individual products will never be able to keep up.  And with every new product, the belief that this one is a need, not a luxury, becomes ever stronger.  Can I convince you not to buy a smartphone, a laptop, a coffee?  I doubt it.

To stop the devastation, we need to permanently cut off the supply, of everything that production requires.  And targeting individual companies or practices won’t have any impact on the global power structures that feed on the destruction of the Earth.  The whole of the global economy needs to be brought to a halt.

What do you really want?

What’s more important – sustainable energy for you to watch TV, or the lives of the world’s rivers, forests, animals, and oceans?  Would you sooner live without these, without Earth?  Even if this was an option, if you weren’t tightly bound in the interconnected in the web of life, would you really prefer to have electricity for your lights, computers and appliances, rather than share the ecstasy of being with all of life on Earth?  Is a lifeless world ruled by machines really what you want?

If getting what you want requires destroying everything you need – clean air and water, food, and natural communities – then you’re not going to last long, and neither will anyone else.

I know what I want.  I want to live in a world that is becoming ever more alive.  A world regenerating from the destruction, where every year there are more fish, birds, trees and diversity than the year before. A world where I can breathe the air, drink from the rivers and eat from the land.  A world where humans live in community with all of life.

Industrial technology is not sustainable.  The global economy is not sustainable.  Valuing the Earth only as a resource for humans to exploit is not sustainable.  Civilization is not sustainable.  If civilization collapsed today, it would still be 400 years before human existence on the planet becomes truly sustainable.  So if it’s genuine sustainability you want, then dismantle civilization today, and keep working at regenerating the Earth for 400 years.  This is about how long it’s taken to create the destructive structures we live within today, so of course it will take at least that long to replace these structures with alternatives that benefit all of life on Earth, not just the wealthy minority.  It won’t happen instantly, but that’s no reason not to start.

You might say let’s just walk away, build alternatives, and let the whole system just fall apart when no-one pays it any attention any more.  I used to like this idea too.  But it can’t work.  Those in power use the weapons of fear and debt to maintain their control.  The majority of the world’s people don’t have the option of walking away.  Their fear and debt keeps them locked in the prison of civilization.  Your walking away doesn’t help them.  Your breaking down the prison structure does.

We don’t have time to wait for civilization to collapse.  Ninety per cent of large fish in the oceans are gone.  99 per cent of the old growth forests have been destroyed.  Every day 200 more species become extinct, forever.  If we wait any longer, there will be no fish, no forests, no life left anywhere on Earth.

So what can you do?

Spread the word.  Challenge the dominant beliefs.  Share this article with everyone you know.

Listen to the Earth.  Get to know your nonhuman neighbors   Look after each other.  Act collectively, not individually.  Build alternatives, like gift economies, polyculture food systems, alternative education and community governance.  Create a culture of resistance.

Rather than attempting to reduce the demand for the products of a destructive system, cut off the supply.  The economy is what’s destroying the planet, so stop the economy.  The global economy is dependent on a constant supply of electricity, so stopping it is (almost) as easy as flicking a switch.

Governments and industry will never do this for us, no matter how nicely we ask, or how firmly we push.  It’s up to us to defend the land that our lives depend on.

We can’t do this as consumers, or workers, or citizens.  We need to act as humans, who value life more than consuming, working and complaining about the government.

Learn about and support Deep Green Resistance, a movement with a working strategy to save the planet.  Together, we can fight for a world worth living in.  Join us.

In the words of Lierre Keith, co-author of the book Deep Green Resistance, “The task of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much personal integrity as possible; it is to dismantle those systems.”

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Originally posted by Stories of Creative Ecology here.





Can you smell the stench…?

20 07 2013

“An­other great chal­lenge of our age is asylum seekers. The bib­lical in­junc­tion to care for the stranger in our midst is clear. The par­able of the Good Samar­itan is but one of many which deal with the mat­ter of how we should re­spond to a vul­ner­able stranger in our midst. That is why the gov­ern­ment’s pro­posal to ex­cise the Aus­tralian main­land from the en­tire Aus­tralian mi­gra­tion zone and to rely al­most ex­clus­ively on the so-called Pa­cific Solu­tion should be the cause of great eth­ical con­cern to all the Chris­tian churches. We should never for­get that the reason we have a UN con­ven­tion on the pro­tec­tion of refugees is in large part be­cause of the hor­ror of the Holo­caust, when the West (in­clud­ing Aus­tralia) turned its back on the Jew­ish people of Ger­many and the other oc­cu­pied coun­tries of Europe who sought asylum dur­ing the ’30s.”  

Kevin Rudd   http://www.themonthly.com.au/epublish/1  October 2006

Seven years is a long time in politics.  Yesterday, our Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea signed the ‘Regional Resettlement Agreement’.  This means that any asylum seeker who comes to Australia by boat will be turned back to Papua New Guinea and resettled there.  Politics, it appears, is all about winning elections, stuff principles.  Even faith based ones.  And some wonder why I am so skeptical of religion…… or politics for that matter.

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Syrian Refugee Camp

I see this conundrum as one with no solution.  Well, at least no solution compatible with the running of ANY form of Business as Usual.  The core of the problem is, as usual, overpopulation, and we all know how badly Catholics – like Abbott and Rudd – deal with these issues.  Or Muslims for that matter.  Populate or perish is fast becoming populate and perish……. and if you think Australia has a refugee problem, then check out the refugee queue in Syria…!

This is what happens when a country runs out of oil and water and foreign currency.  They start killing each other, they blame whoever is in charge, and those who don’t have access to guns simply run away….  except there is nowhere to run away to, there is no Planet B.  How long before we start seeing Syrian refugees (or Egyptian…) on our precious borders is anyone’s guess.

I think this issue is fast becoming the one that affects my sanity the most……  it drives me to despair.  I can cope with running out of oil, I can cope with having to make do without a car, I’ve already worked out how to make do with sweet bugger all electricity, but I honestly cannot cope with the thought of Australia, already overpopulated, being invaded by potentially millions of refugees from all over the world.

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Aren’t we just good Catholic boys now….

Don’t get me wrong, I truly feel sorry for these people.  How can you not…?  After all, it was us who bombed the hell out of their countries and/or stole their oil…  And certainly, I am privileged to have gotten here first.  No ifs no buts.  But believe me when I say none of the three major parties, the Liblabs and the Greens, have any understanding of the problem.

Australians exhibit a fear of this ‘invasion’ that isn’t justified.  Compared to the problems facing Europe with similar boat people attempting to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa, ours is a mere trickle.  The trickle could of course turn into a flood, and I have to say we who don’t live in a major Australian city are somewhat protected from this…..  you will just about never see a Muslim wearing traditional dress on the Sunshine Coast.  Glenda and I were gobsmacked when, upon arriving in Sydney and catching a train to reach Steve Harrison’s workshop, every second person on the train was a foreigner.  It really felt like we had reached an overseas destination……..  You don’t see Muslims in Tasmania either I might add.  I’m sure some exist, but we haven’t crossed paths yet……  I hate to admit it, but we felt uncomfortable.  I don’t want to think it’s a racist thing, it’s more of a cultural one.  We do all prefer to live in our own culture; and when overseas we are fascinated by other cultures…..  but not threatened by them, because we are visitors.

Next week (July 24 to be precise), we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of my family’s arrival in this country.  My Mother’s French accent is still as thick as, but we have all managed to assimilate into Australian culture.  In fact, by the time I was 25, you would have been hard pressed to detect that I was not Australian born.  But many of these refugees do not even try to assimilate.  Their children may…. but of course when collapse really sets in, who knows what will happen?  Perhaps people in this country of ours unconsciously know collapse is on the way, and that it may all turn into a “them versus us” situation, and let’s face it, they’ve had far more practice at street violence and persecution than most of us whiteys…….

Australia, just like the rest of the world, is already in overshoot.  We just don’t know it yet.  Well maybe some are starting to suspect.  This whole mess, as far as I am concerned, is another sure sign the collapse has begun, and political parties are all pretending they are doing something about it, except they are merely treating the symptoms, not the disease…….

If there’s a Stable Population Party candidate here at the next election, I’d be inclined to vote for them……..  but I fear it’s way way too late already.  I can smell the stench already……..





On giving up

5 05 2013

On the weekend, I had a friend over to help her put a powerpoint presentation together.  She’s been pre-selected to run for the Greens in our seat of Wide Bay currently held by the leader of the Nationals, Warren Truss.  Of course, she has zero chance of winning, but she wants to educate the electorate on energy and greenhouse issues, especially as the fracking bonanza is snapping at our heels (as an electorate) with drills going into action just North of Maryborough.  They are closing in…..

Joy obviously thought of me with my expertise in matters of energy, and I know how to massage a PPT file and sex it up to stop people getting bored.  I couldn’t help thinking how ironic it was that we were using software originally designed for Micro$oft on a Macbook and a Linux laptop!  But I digress….

As I dragged and dropped images of solar panels, wind turbines, gas fields, charts explaining this that and the other, from my laptop and hers into her presentation, I just felt it was all a waste of time.  You can’t have the deep understanding of collapse in the manner I do and not realise this.  Anyone who’s read my last post about Pedro‘s views on Pvs will know what I’m talking about…..  and all those fracking companies will simply go tits up once their source of finance disappears in the looming GFC Mk II.

After some while, I could stand it no more, and I told her so.  To which she replied, “I’m just not prepared to give up”.

It was neither the time nor the place to start an argument, we had work to do…. but it’s haunted me all weekend.  Have I given up?  Surely anyone seeing all I’ve done here couldn’t really believe I’d given up?

I stood in seven elections for the Greens myself at the turn of the century.  Did quite well considering, garnering some 16% of the votes twice and getting national coverage in the media during a particularly high profile bi-election when the Labor Party (with my preferences) snatched a safe Liberal seat off them, even if only until the following election.

Back then, I believe, it was still the good fight.  Back then, there was still a chance of maybe, just maybe, changing enough minds to avoid the collapse……. a chance of doing something about Climate Change while there was still some ice in the Arctic…

But no one’s minds were changed.  I even started campaigning internally within the Greens on the issue of Peak Oil, and ended up castigated.  I left in disgust.  Christine Milne temporarily took up the issue, but I suspect she too was eventually told to shut up about it, there are no votes in collapse.  And besides, it’s too late.  Back then I had no idea let alone understanding of the debt problem.  I still believed we could run civilisation on renewables.  But slowly all the pieces fell into place, and I realised it was too late.  The fight itself had to change.

So have I given up?  No…..  I have merely changed fights.  I’m no longer fighting for just change, I’m fighting for survival, and a lot of people are going down with the ship.  I have to tell you though, I have given up on people who refuse to listen.  I don’t even have to tell them to go to hell, because they’re going regardless of what I say.

As we approach an election that looks set to be won by the dark side, it will be every man and woman for him/herself.  Nothing will change until the monetary system we currently follow is dumped, and a new world order like that written up earlier is adopted.

As usual, I’m three steps ahead of the herd.  I’m used to it, and people are getting used to me!  But I’ll be proven mostly right.  I was ten years ahead of the pack when we installed the first grid tied solar power system in Cooran, I was miles ahead of Noosa Shire Council when I tendered the plans for this house to be built, and I was years ahead of the Greens when I campaigned on Peak oil.  I’ll still support and vote for Joy…..  but I hope she forgives me if my heart’s not in it.  Because it’s time to change the Greens too!

IF you’ve got loads of time, read The Simpler Way.     It’ll keep you busy for weeks!





Are we running out of people to vote for…?

21 02 2013

Recently, my friend Dave Kimble (who wrote this post) contacted the leader of the Australian Greens regarding many of the things we discuss here on this blog.  Christine Milne’s office sent him the following reply:

Dear Dave,

Thank you for contacting Senator Milne; I am replying on her behalf.

We appreciate you providing us with your comments on peak coal use and reduction in China. Christine has long been an advocate of the urgency of addressing peak oil. In a speech to the Senate on March 15 2012, Christine highlighted that “We are talking about that vision for Australia in the context of the major crises facing the nation now: the global climate crisis, the global energy crisis—including peak oil —a food security crisis and a water crisis. All of those things are coming together and every nation, including Australia, has to face up to them.”

Christine is confident in Australia’s, and the world’s, ability to overcome these problems. As she has said, “it is time to act. Australia needs a strategy to oil proof the country through investment in everything from public transport to electric vehicles as well as assisting farmers in getting off petro-chemical fertilisers.” The Australian Greens are committed to reaching 100%  stationary electricity in Australia from renewable sources, and are confident in our ability to achieve this through increasingly (sic) the renewable energy target (RET) and in addition measures such as feed-in tariffs and regulations to support a range of prospective new ret, renewable energy technologies. The capacity for Australia to do this has been recognised by the Climate Commission (see their full report here: http://climatecommission.gov.au/report/the-critical-decade-generating-renewable-australia/). You may also like to read Christine’s recent interview with Renew Economy, where she talks about her experiences visiting solar thermal plants in Spain: http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/and-time-to-get-real-about-climate-say-greens-42026. Interestingly, over the last three months in Spain, wind farms have produced more electricity than any other source: http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2240973/wind-farms-are-spains-top-electricity-producers.

I hope that this has clarified the Greens position, and given you some insight into the renewable energy opportunities the Greens are pushing for.

Kind regards,

Felicity Gray
Office of Senator Christine Milne
Leader of the Australian Greens
GPO Box 896 Hobart TAS 7001 | Ph: 03 6224 8899 | Fax: 03 6224 7599

www.christinemilne.org.au | http://greens.org.au

Dave’s thoughts on the matter..?  “As a political party hoping to win more votes, you can’t sell limiting peoples’ right to have children, cutting consumption and not wasting energy trying to find technical fixes for Peak Energy, even if you had found policies on how to achieve it.

So we are locked in to disaster.”

And I agree.  Nobody, but nobody gets entropy…….

I had to laugh when I recently read “The inability to adapt to the changing world economy is the primary cause of Tasmania’s ills” in an article written by the fellow who replaced Bob Brown in the Senate (Peter Whish-Wilson) at the Tamanian Times website….  I thought he was an economist?  Yet, platitudes like “Clean, green and clever” [economies] abound, without a thought being given to the debt problems…..  because nothing will become “Clean, green and clever” until we get rid of the debts.