A conjunction of vaudeville news items here and here involving posturing by Environment Minister Peter Garrett underline the sleep walk to dangerous climate change, with only the odd worrying bad dream to disturb the way. These bad dreams involve lots of talking faces in a room in the tropics (UN Bali conference), a few glossy tv shows on abc (worthy nature documentaries), and petrol price billboards (US $100 a barrel) but otherwise it's pretty much giant flatscreens and navman's all round and business as usual.
In this spirit we reproduce this email exchange initiated by long time Botany Bay defender Lynda Newnam, and they all involve the Minister formerly known as environmentalist:
Sent: Saturday, January 12, 2008 1:49 PMSubject: Who needs climate change when you can dredge the bay?To: Members of BBACA and residents of South Ward/ state electorate of MAROUBRA and federal electorate of Kingsford SmithCopied: Ms Jenny Warfe, convenor of Blue Wedges (www.bluewedges.org)Mr Michael Daley, Member for MaroubraMr Peter Garrett, Member for Kingsford Smith and Federal Minister for Environment, Heritage and The ArtsMr Anthony Albanese, Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development
Please find below the text of Tracee Hutchison's article published in THE AGE today. Tracee asks "WHO NEEDS CLIMATE CHANGE WHEN YOU CAN DREDGE THE BAY". The Bay she is referring to is Port Phillip Bay where the Victorian govenment, with agreement from the Federal government, proposes to dredge over 23 million cubic meters. Remember that Port Phillip Bay is 3 times the size of Botany Bay and the proposal here is to dredge over 7.5million cubic meters for the Port Expansion, a million or so more for the Desalination pipe and the Botany Bay Cable. Before much longer Botany Bay will also face further dredging for a deepening of the shipping channel and this has already been signalled in the Botany Bay Cable Environmental Assessment.
For your information I sent a letter concerning the dredging of the 2 bays to THE AGE and The Sydney Morning Herald. There were a couple of cuts related to costs and impacts but THE AGE did publish it yesterday.Call in the feds
STATE governments cannot be trusted to manage Australia's major waterways. We can point to the abysmal mismanagement of the Murray-Darling and now to the reckless proposals to dredge Port Phillip Bay and Botany Bay for massive container trade expansions. Neither Melbourne nor Sydney has the capacity to cope with the infrastructure demands the expansion of their ports will bring. The NSW and Victorian governments are in competition for freight and distribution growth in their capital cities without any consideration for long-term national sustainability.
The Federal Government should stop bowing to parochial state governments and bring a national vision to our freight task. It could start by building the inland rail freight line from Gladstone through Parkes to Melbourne. This line has the potential not only to revitalise regional centres but to reduce congestion and pollution in Melbourne and Sydney.
In this time of global climate crisis we cannot continue "business as usual" with competition and growth at any cost. The Federal Government has to take the lead because only it can do what is best for Australia as a nation.
Lynda Newnam, La Perouse
The dredging Lynda is so worried about is for such as these super container ships, as reported by The China Daily here:
Updated: 2007-09-10 11:50
BEIJING - The first 8,530-TEU container ship, of which China owns the full intellectual property rights, had been delivered to China Shipping Container Lines Co Ltd (Shanghai) and left for its maiden voyage to the United States on Sunday.
Super gigantic container vessel "Xin Ya Zhou," meaning "New Asia," China's first with complete proprietary intellectual property rights, is delivered to the owner in Shanghai, East China, Sept. 8, 2007. [Xinhua]
It has made China the fourth country in the world, after the Republic of Korea, Japan and Denmark that is able to design and build such giant container ships, said experts.
The ship, named "New Asia", is the first of five container ships of the same type to be designed and built by Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) Co Ltd for the China Shipping Container Lines Co Ltd.
The 101,000-dwt container ship, 335 meters long and 42.8 meters wide, can sail at a speed of 25 knots an hour."
In other words Melbourne and Sydney are being prostituted to ever bigger growth economics via dredging and super container ships, leading to dangerous climate change. One can hardly forget Premier Morris Iemma here in Sydney saying
"There is no point in saving the planet if we ruin the economy doing it" in Unchecked consumption will waste the planet, 01-Nov-2007 Eureka Street
Really? In Iemma and no doubt brand ALP's world view (and many institutions of society) the economy is far more important than the environment, when in reality it's a wholly owned subsidiary, and even a subsistence economy is better than no planet. In other words Iemma is an unreconstructed believer in materlialistic growth economics which logically leads to civilisation suicide via dangerous climate change.
Tracee Hutchison, THE AGE, January 12, 2008IT'S A bizarre set of circumstances when the federal Environment Minister appears in the Federal Court arguing for a project that even those closest to it admit will be an environmental disaster. Even stranger when the minister enlists the services of Alice in Wonderland to help argue his case.
Not that the Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, was actually in the Federal Court this week to spin the Port of Melbourne's fairytale on its planned dredging of Port Phillip Bay. Oh, no. This Environment Minister left it to his lawyer to tell the people who care about protecting the bay's environment that gouging a whopping crevice into the sea floor will cause a permanent rise in the tide level.
Apparently this Environment Minister isn't bothered by permanent tide rises. That must be why part of his portfolio was given to his younger colleague, Penny Wong. But Wong was nowhere to be seen either this week — just lawyers and a bunch of committed environmentalists who must have felt as if they'd fallen down a rabbit hole.
But it was a tremendous performance by the Commonwealth, which did its best Lewis Carroll impersonation by backing up the Port of Melbourne's premise that it was perfectly OK for the feds to approve the project based on the port's 2002 proposal — that says nothing of rising sea levels or underwater toxic waste dumps — even though the project has morphed into something much bigger.
(That 2002 proposal, by the way, doesn't even use the word dredging. Amazing, isn't it? Apparently there's a legal loophole that means the port doesn't have to get its new plans — the real plans that will see millions of cubic metres of sand, silt and rock ripped from Port Phillip Bay and dumped in two spoil grounds in the bay — approved by the federal minister. That's what the court challenge was all about. It's a bit convoluted, I know, but that's when the lawyer for the feds starting referring to Alice in Wonderland.)
As you can imagine, it was all getting pretty fanciful in court by this stage. Especially when the presiding judge indicated that an elephant had wandered into the room. It was an elephant called dredging but no one dared speak its name for fear the courtroom would descend into a Mad Hatter's tea party.
It all but did, anyway, descend into a Mad Hatter's tea party. The federal Environment Minister's lawyer got on a roll and went on to describe a worst-case scenario, outlining what would happen if the Heads disintegrate.
At least it was an "if", although I can't be completely sure that it wasn't a "when" as the worm wasn't on hand to give advice. But apparently, in that happy event, tides would extend from three to 25 metres deeper inland in some sections. Well, knock me over with a looking glass. Who needs climate change when you can dredge the bay? That must be the other reason the federal Environment Minister doesn't have it in his portfolio.
But it was a terrific in-absentia performance from Garrett, who, in a spectacular demonstration of the adage that timing is everything, announced a ban on plastic bags the same day the fate of the bay was being decided. Now, this really was tremendous stuff. And it was terrific to learn that the minister really is concerned about the bay's colony of fur seals getting those hideous things wrapped around their necks. The small problem of replacing the errant plastic bags with a couple of toxic waste dumps in the bay was just a minor detail.
But this Environment Minister isn't big on detail. What else can explain the three weeks it took him to realise he'd referred to Western Port Bay in his approval statement about dredging in Port Phillip Bay? It would have made a Cheshire Cat proud.
And where did our esteemed Environment Minister disappear to this week? Oh, he jumped on a joy flight to Antarctica. Apparently to check on the rising sea levels.
"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
Just like Alice when she gets greedy and eats that nasty bit of cake, the port's plans have got bigger and bigger. And just like Alice, the port will leave behind a salty pool of tears for the rest of us to swim in.
Tracee Hutchison is a Melbourne writer and broadcaster.
To which we responded:
Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:36 AMSubject: embedded GHG in the super container ships to reinforce GW... Re: Who needs climate change when you can dredge the bay?It's the embedded greenhouse gases of manufacture of all those extra imports on the newer jumbo container ships that further reinforce the convergence of natural heritage protection with climate change worries e.g. the immovable object of economic structural reform to clean energy (versus the irresistible force of human instinct for survival).
There probably should be a restraint on imports, not just Melb/Sydney, until these can be guarranteed energy friendly sources. Indeed just like the Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances, a time will come when such a blanket ban or financial penalty will be threatened/imposed on China and India as the factory of the world, by markets in the west including Australia, say post Democrat win Nov 08. That is if we want a livable world at all. On the other hand my feeling the western, and burgeoning Indian and Chinese addiction to materialist comfort will promote fatal denial and ignorance. A sleep walk to climate destruction. I'd say about 5 or 10 years as exponential momentum kicks in?
It's the resolution of that market tension, Eastern seller to Western buyer that will potentially turn geopolitics on its head. Not least for us closing down our capacity to sell coal into that factory production. Because truth be told Australians are part of the Chinese/Indian/Japanese GHG industrial complex. We are China.
I've been reading quality press about the nature of 'Chinese capitalism' in particular which reads like one giant sociopathic corporation as per critics of multinationals/globalisation: A 'Faustian pact for materialism at the price of abdicating any democratic participation'. Organising is taboo under the Communist Party of China. An Australian journo with Reuters was recently bashed up by thugs doing an embarrassing background story in the lead up to the Olympics. Doing media in China must be such fun. It's just one big fascist corporation like our ultra hierarchical multinationals chasing the holy dollar. How incredibly ironic. Santamaria's paradox - the head meets the tail of the same anti democratic beast. For the religious amongst us - Good v Evil. So there is not much prospect of slowing down that materialistic trajectory to keep power in a one party state.My view is Peter Garrett should just stay there in Casey/Willkins runway. Keep the penguins company. Sometimes the hardest thing is letting go. Greenwashing brand ALP just slows down the reform of politics to an ecologically sustainable basis via the Green Party now that sociopathic Howard is gone. Even the Unions in NSW are suffering existential angst at being in the ALP over sell down of the public's essential power services. What indeed is the ALP apart from a maleable brand and old boys/girls club. He must know it himself. The guy is no fool, in fact he is too clever by half also known as a smart arse. Plastic bags, and ice runways for God sake. Vaudeville. Speaking of which:
Snowing in Baghdad, snowflakes in the desert,
First time in 100 years. If that's not unusual climate shift I'll eat my eco hat (Made in China, $2 shop, Marrickville Rd).Tom McLoughlin, editor www.sydneyalternativemedia.com
But who cares when its such a lovely sleepy time? A few greenies over the latest coal fired power station in Western Australia, that will reverse every domestic initiative that anyone cares to take (standby tv, turning lights off, recycling):
Greenies see red over Coolimba | The Australian 14th January 2008