For those paying attention to the science of climate change, it might seem counterintuitive to talk about hope. To some it might even seem in bad taste, given that the future impacts include the melting away of the Himalayan glaciers that provide fresh water for 1.3 billion people in Asia and the possibility that many low-lying island nations may become uninhabitable.
More than six years ago, 21-year-old Australian backpacker Jock Palfreeman was walking home with friends after a night out in Sofia, Bulgaria, when he saw a group of 15 men attacking two others. The next morning he was in a police cell — accused of “unprovoked murder” and “hooliganism”. Held without bail, he was convicted two years later and sentenced to 20 years jail.
One of the most frightful ironies of climate change is that it will wreak the most havoc on the people who have done the least to cause it. Pacific Island nations are in the climate frontlines — affected by rising oceans, coastal erosion and extreme weather.
Should Scotland’s people decide to separate from Britain in next month’s independence referendum, the English establishment may well be very unhappy with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose recent ham-fisted attack on Scottish nationalism appears to have given the Yes campaign a boost.
As civilian casualties climb from its brutal assault on Gaza, Israel has met growing condemnation for the carnage from human rights groups and many governments. In Latin America, the response has been especially strong. Since Israel began its assault a month ago, El Savador, Chile, Peru, Brazil and Ecuador have withdrawn their ambassadors in protest.
The repeal of Australia’s carbon price is a milestone for a Coalition government that thinks nothing should stand between a mining company and big pile of money.
Call it reckless, short-sighted or just “plane stupid”, but the federal government’s decision to press ahead with a second Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek defies logic. Along with the noise pollution it will inflict on western Sydney, the airport will spawn a huge amount of extra carbon pollution — something we cannot afford in an age of dangerous climate change.
Land & Labour: Marxism, Ecology & Human History Martin Empson Bookmarks Publications London, 2014 With several serious global environmental crises bearing down on us, the question of our age must be “what can we do?” British socialist Martin Empson urges us to look into the past and into the future for answers in his new book Land and Labour. His message is that human destruction of its environment is not inevitable, although it is very likely if we don’t draw upon the best and worst examples from humanity’s diverse experience.
Despite two court decisions rejecting Rio Tinto’s bid to expand a Hunter Valley coalmine, the expansion may still go ahead under NSW government rules that allow the company to override environmental concerns and local community objections.
If you want evidence that the corporate rich are turning “sustainable” into a dirty word, then consider the recent award won by Australian bank Westpac. At last month’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the bank was named the most sustainable company in the world.
It’s wrong to think that we can campaign to stop climate change in the same way we might campaign to end a war. All the evidence says we are well past that stage now. That is, even if by some impossible, magical course of events all carbon pollution on Earth was stopped tomorrow, we’d still be in really, really deep trouble. So many greenhouse gases have been pumped into the Earth’s atmosphere that we have rushed far past the safe upper limit — the famous 350 parts per million of CO2, the number that climate action group 350.org took for its name.
At the recent UN climate talks in Poland, poor nations and NGOs singled out the Australian delegation for doing the most to block progress on a new deal to cut carbon emissions.
There is one obvious answer to the climate change crisis that is rarely up for discussion — the government has to take the lead with a huge green public investment drive.
PM Tony Abbott has repeatedly said climate change has absolutely nothing to do with the recent record-breaking spring bushfires in NSW. Such ideas are “hogwash”, he told News Limited’s Andrew Bolt. The claims associate his government with the most extreme climate change denial and explode Abbott’s carefully fashioned pre-election image as someone who now accepts the science but merely opposes costly action.
Mainstream media outlets gave substantial coverage to the UN’s new report on the climate change crisis late last month, which said the Earth’s climate is warming faster than at any point in the past 65 million years and that human activity is the cause. Disappointingly, though not unsurprisingly, the news reports dried up after only a few days.
About 1000 people packed the Sydney Opera House on September 16 for a public forum featuring Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning’s defense lawyer David Coombs, independent US journalist Alexa O’Brien and Australian academic Robert Manne.