Carlo's Corner: Don't panic, we've found a brand new coral reef in the Amazon

April 29, 2016

The May budget is just days away at time of writing, so while I don't know its exact details, I feel I can safely take an educated guess and suggest it probably won't include a fully-costed plan for a rapid transition to a post-carbon, zero emissions economy based on 100% renewable energy.

Not because such a thing is impossible — Beyond Zero Emissions has worked out a detailed plan. Nor is it out of ignorance — the Sydney launch of this plan in 2010 featured the Member for Wentworth on its platform — a bloke in a fancy suit named Malcolm Turnbull.

Presumably, the reason we won't have such a plan is we cannot afford it. And fair enough, there is, after all, a finite amount of money in this country — I mean it's not like we're the Cayman Islands or anything.

And I suppose it is not like there is any sort of emergency. About 93% of the Great Barrier Reef has suffered catastrophic bleaching and winter appears to be hiding out whereever the Fremantle Dockers current form has buggered off to, and there have been record-smashing temperatures around the globe and unprecedented droughts.

But it is always important to remember not to panic, because in a state of panic you can end up making rash decisions like ceasing activities threatening the capacity of the planet to sustain human civilisation. And then how would giant fossil fuel corporations stay in business in order to could lay-off thousands of workers in a bid to save plummeting profit margins amid a global downturn?

No, it is time for cool heads to prevail, which is unfortunate, given the latest global warming data shows it is really not very likely to be especially cool for the foreseeable future.

Sure, all the evidence suggests the mass bleaching of the reef would have been almost impossible without global warming — and is pretty guaranteed to become permanent without a cooling of oceans.

But, on the other hand, did you see scientists have just discovered a new coral reef in the Amazon? Previously unknown to humans, it is a huge coral reef system 1000 kilometres long. Researchers have already found more than 73 species of fish, spiny lobsters, starfish, 60 species of sponges and a variety of other marine life, including a rare red algae.

So we should look on the bright side. Sure, the likely death of the Great Barrier Reef is sad, but on the other hand, we've just found a brand new replacement!

It is like Mother Earth knew we'd fucked the Great Barrier Reef, and so has given us a replacement to enjoy. At least until the combination of global warming and the fact that in recent years a total of 80 exploratory blocks have been acquired for oil drilling in the study region, destroys this new reef too. Then, presumably, Mother Earth will provide another one again.

So maybe the execs of large corporations like mining giant Adani — which as planning a new mega coalmine in Queensland's Galilee Basin that is certain to destroy the Great Barrier Reef — are really just new age hippies. They firmly believe in the power of Mother Earth and her ability to always provide, if only you have faith.

But I don't know. Maybe, just maybe, spending billions on fossil fuel subsidies in the midst of a climate emergency, which is making the “normal functioning” of the economy increasingly unsustainable, is not the best idea.

Of course, you could be forgiven for wondering what the point is anyway in the “normal functioning” of an economic system in which 63 people have more wealth than half the planet combined — even without the whole “rapidly developing ecoholocaust” thing.

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