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9/2007 - Establishment confusion as dangerous climate change approaches

27th Sept 07
Establishment confusion as 'dangerous' climate changes everything politically, economically, socially, ecologically
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: globalWarming

It used to be the song "money changes everything" by Cyndi Lauper. But now it's the all encompassing issue of dangerous climate change shaking up conventional wisdom. And DCC itself is a subset of the even greater unifying reality of ecology - that is simply everything alive is connected. Whether you believe God created that circumstance and thus a sacred obligation for stewardship, or by some other process, it's still all connected.

Never has moral credibility on matters of ecological sustainability been at more of a premium in our 15 year downshifting 'career' as an environmental reformist/lobbyist., very commited to the creative destruction of capitalism and thus market forces wrote this about climate influenced drought today, quoting approvingly in turn editorial of the conservative, pro fossil fuel The Australian newspaper, in turn echoing community medi The Big Issue March 2007 edition above. The "enlightened" irony of the text will become apparent, and we don't actually mean that in such a judgemental way. We really are in scary unchartered waters for western civilisation and this writer for one is scared, for real:

The trouble with drought relief is that it props up unviable farms. The Australian recognises the terrible pressure a drought puts on individuals, families and communities, but drought assistance is a government intervention and as with any government intervention, it distorts the market. So long as farmers in marginal agricultural enterprises know that the Government will bail them out, they defer the difficult decision to cut their losses and leave the land. Whereas other unviable industries go to the wall in the face of changing conditions, there is an assumption that farmers should not be allowed to go broke, and if they do, they should be given assistance to exit the industry. When droughts break, as the always do, new entrants go in, enjoying the good times and then expecting a handout when the next drought hits.
Sadly, the lead up to a federal election is no time to expect rational economic decisions, but this is what is required. Handouts to unviable farms are a drain on the public purse and on scarce resources such as water, and by putting subsidised products in the market, they make it harder for viable farms to survive. [bold added]
Not enough rain indefinitely? The complex relationship of drought and dangerous climate change is uncertain and may always be unproven. For instance we wonder what effect land clearing of some 2 million hectares of bush in the last 12 years has had on rainfall in this state as the NSW Farmers rep Jock Laurie tells us farmers are using the best modern methods today. To that we say humbug. In any case politically the drought/DCC nexus is here right now.

On the other hand, and likely much more certain is the prospect of way too much 'water' inevitably? We noticed Nobel medical science winner Peter Doherty on 7.30 Report last night quoting the taboo 4 to 6 metre sea rise figure for melting ice by turn of the century (it's the melting of the ice and sea level rise'), which is the thesis of climate experts like Dr James Hansen of NASA's Goddard Institute and his colleague Australian/Troublemaker of the Year, Professor Tim Flannery:

Both major parties are very involved and engaged now on DCC. Motivated by a fear of losing power, certainly, this election season. Fear too of a collective adverse judgment by industry sectors, the nation, the human species driven by the imperative of self preservation? Fear of failure their whole public policy career?  Fear of honest science? Fear for the future, certainly.  Fear for mother earth maybe. The fear is in their heart like it is in this writer's too.

Last Monday the Howard federal govt did a "triple backflip" or some such description over endorsing a 15% renewable energy target for Australia as per the front page stories: This was such a change Clement cartooned today on the feature Herald space:


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

We particularly liked this visual metaphor of the coin collectors in koala suit having been part of the The Wilderness Society outreach machine in embyronic form in 1992-4, our role giving campaign briefings to the growing squadron of 'koalas', which started with just one way brave soul way back when. These days it's more likely to be polar bear suits, not koalas.

Courage. It's a topic that features in a lovely essay in The Australian [newspaper] Literary Review early this month "Show some ticker" by Maria Tumarkin at page 10 5th Sept 07. The thesis is that courage is needed in our mundane lives. This is exactly our experience of serious achievement in life. To overcome serious problems like dangerous climate change. Fear won't cut it, its courage we need at every level of society.

Because we are coming from a very low base of poor sustainability even as the awareness of the very serious impications of DCC reach the upper industry echeleons: See this graphic from p37, The Weekend Australian by John Durie previously Australian Financial Review, with circle around comparatively enlightened captains of industry directly on DCC or related water problems:

But even as federal govt, and industry, and even the military industrial complex (Defence forces join the battle against global warming Emiko Terazono | September 11, 2007, and here AM - Police Commissioner enters climate change debate) buy into the myriad aspects of DCC the state of confused public policy is clear to see, especially this election season.

Here are only some of the startling examples of this chaos of the catchup crowd formerly such sure critics of the green movement these many decades:

1. on p14 22-23rd Sept 2007 The Australian this federal govt advert

and juxtaposed very next page 15 this privately funded advert for a pulp mill that will kill millions of tonnes of natural forest carbon storage, a pulp mill the federal govt supports say The Greens Howard shepherding Gay’s pulp mill – Brown

2. In a similar push me pull you, half arse coordination of environmental policy in NSW the state government is being sued for logging red gum natural forest while the Victorian Govt is protecting them: Battle to save river red gums for grey babblers - Environment ...

3. The confusion of the federal govt is attracting high profile tv advertising on AFL grand final day by ALP friendly (ie Evan Thorley MP) highly effective cyber lobby group Get Up as here

4. But its not just the govt that's confused. Peter Garrett MP as lead singer/Opposition Environment Minister is attracting similar claims of being a phoney: A man of practical passions by sharp tool John Lyons formerly Ch9.

5. Indeed the ALP are being attacked for cute green wedge politics by this writer (see first previous story re CFMEU election double talk) as per the close NSW 1995 election under Bob Carr, with Big Meeja's Janet Albrechtsen picking up the theme today in The Australian here

Climate promises so much hot air Janet Albrechtsen KEVIN Rudd and Wayne Swan know visions of a clean, green tomorrow are just election flim-flam.

6. As the insurance industry continues to actuarialise '37% increase in insured losses in the next decade'  at p11 Resources column, hidden away in the Careers section of The Australian 22 Sept 2007 sourced to Bloomberg (possibly offline).

Annual insured losses from catastrophes such as floods and hurricanes may jump to $41 billion a year in 2010-2019, up from $30 billion a year in 2000-2006, and less than $5 billion before 1989, Munich based  Allianz said in a report released in Sydney. Total losses in any one year may be as much as $400 billion, syas Clement Booth, a member of the management board.

We find big business going full throttle to expand fossil fuel production as here in this advertising supplement in The Australian last weekend

These big advertising driven supplements that The Australian specialises in goes a long way to explaining why their editorial lambasted the Howard Govt's belated call for 15% renewable energy target the very same day they reported the more progressive policy on their front page. The editorial is here in true smart alec form

Howard catches the greenhouse wind CLEAN power target compounds reward for inefficiency.

while scrupulously avoiding any declaration of financial conflict of interest.


Other perverse ripple effects into the politics of the nation are spreading out now too. We have intellectually gifted black politicians like Noel Pearson allegedly kept in the fat paddock too long, who want more economic empowerment for suffering community, attacking green groups like The Wilderness Society for meddling in his grand politicking. Meanwhile this same TWS is trying to keep living carbon storage in the ground to save the same black owned land from being destroyed by rising sea levels. And the tension is all because this Howard federal Govt broke its election promise of $40M funding in 1996 and 1998 for Cape York. The whole grim bonfire of the 'moral vanities' black and white is captured in The Good Weekend 22-23 Sept 2007.

And Pearson (like Mick Kelty as chief of the Austalian Federal Police reported elsewhere here on SAM news blog) is pushing Coalition and ALP buttons alternatively just in case one or other wins: Compare this pro ALP Rudd piece by Pearson here

Rudd's reality started with Mundine |

and footage flattering rival Govt minister Mal Brough recently on the 7.30 Report

20/09/2007 - Indigenous leader signs 99-year land lease to Govt


There is more than enough confusion, existential angst and cause for reflection in all of this DCC for our own society let alone western civilisation.

And this article hasn't even tried to traverse the reality of increased mega bushfire risk, and the ferocious real politik of that coming into this federal election summer, as scientists tell us yes it is climate driven danger Scientists predict frightening future under global warming and here New species of fire monster heading our way

BUSHFIRES that burn so hot they cannot be controlled are likely to occur much more frequently in Sydney in the years to come, razing bushland, leaving property more susceptible to flooding and threatening water supplies, new research indicates.

Who is best to lead us foward in such fraught times? And how are we best to conduct our national affairs. There are critical concerns being expressed by clever experienced people in the Big Meeja

* that Howard is more a politician than a leader (see Homo politicus by George Megalogenis Australian Literary Review p6 5th Sept 07)

* that information flow is not what it should be: Loosen curbs on our liberty John Hartigan | September 08, 2007 and Careful, he might hear you - National - by David Marr and Matthew Moore here FoI editor at Fairfax PM's election act offers no end to the secrecy

*we mentioned the essay on courage in mundane daily life above and similarly the exhortation of public intellectuals to do their work with gusto

Let's resist the forces of ignorancePublic intellectuals should not remain silent in the face of an assault on reason and our liberties, argues Barry Jones | September 05, 2007

At least within limits, ie avoiding the n word as Gerard Henderson puts it, certain as he is Australia has never been pre fascist from his white male middle class high access perch, and to suggest such displays "a superficial understanding of this nation". Yeah Gerard but how would a Muslim or an Aborigine (or both) describe our/their nation? A nation that doesn't respect their millenia of history and culture?

Especially with Mick Kelty AFP chief the same page of the Henderson article urging pre-emptive "Prevention is better than crime" mayne even for thought crime as in Orwell's 1984? Got to get your mind right Luke?

Funny how Henderson enjoys the hyperbole of others but misses this ultra right howler from Frank Devine in his selective (?) roundup of inappropriate extreme Nazi metaphors -

"Osama....the Paul Keating of international terrorism" p13 The Australian 21/9/07 which cutely has been sanitsied on the web as

What was Osama on about? Frank Devine | September 21, 2007

* courage is what you really need in the public intellectual sphere. Chris Masters thinks the ABC is doing a bit of pre emptive buckling despite being successfully sued by Tim Priest it seems Legal threats have ABC cowering: top reporter | Ironic as it was the same newspaper carrying that report that went yet another sledge of ABC Media Watch recently perhaps to scare them off the trail of a good story Column sparks Media Watch pursuit Caroline Overington | September 24, 2007

But hopefully not as much courage as in Russia under Putin where journalists are regularly knocked off: Dead funny guy, that Putin COMMENT: Greg Sheridan | September 22, 2007

One person who doesn't lack intellectual courage is the adorable Elizabeth Farrelly (who perhaps like this writer has a morbid voyeuristic curiousity?) at the demise of robust democracy in Sydney, NSW telling it like it is, both looking and averting eyes at the shlock slasher movie horror tone of it all.

Certainly our democracy and our civil norms are being tested by climate change and it's anyone's guess how it will all end up. To be honest this writer is not very optimistic. And we note serious journalists are starting to put that very question to serious successful scientists starting to hedge their answers much like the beginings of WW2 or the Cold War. We've never been here before.

If you really listen you can hear the fear in their heart too.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007
Tony Maher, Pres of the CFMEU dig it up, chop it down union embraces election double talk on climate?

Mood:  incredulous
Topic: globalWarming

When combined with real action on the ground, reading Tony Maher here below reminds me of Bob Carr champion of the forests in '93-95 while in Opposition, while always only ever committing to protection of 50% of legally identified wilderness. Carr's green wedge of the Lib-Nats succeeded in 1995. Then after 1997 Carr as Premier made it very clear by various policy settings he was NEVER going to end woodchipping of natural forest as promised in the 1995 election. We qualified our judgement of Carr from at least 1993 and this reservation was well vindicated.

Similarly we can say, the union/ALP federal complex is equally determined to wedge the Liberal National Party with the environment in another close election 2007, not hard given dinosaur Nationals crucial to Howard's PM status. Back then it was with forests in NSW against then Premier John Fahey in 1995, today it is leveraging the green iconic issue of climate change nationally. Many of us are willing participants in this wedge whether we realise it's Carr/Clive Hamilton's real politik strategy or not.
Bob Carr is patron of ... the Climate Institute headed up by spiv like John Connor who previously helped knowingly or not Carr's 97-99 corrupt forest election broken promise on woodchipped natural forest as CEO of  NSW Nature Conservation Council. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Connor went on to the ACF an ALP leaning outfit and at one point promoted the idea 'you don't have to sacrifice comfort to live sustainably'. Well maybe, but riding a bicycle is quite different to an expensive Prius.  And it's a bicycle kind of future at this juncture, and that's assuming there is oil to make the wheels. But some will always have their privileged enclave.
All of this means if, still quite a big if, and when the federal ALP wins this election it's going to be broken election climate change promises and a million extra population for Sydney and hyper development and God knows what other land use depradations.

And the Coalition are as bad. I think this piece below might better be referred to as 'Miners embrace election double talk' as per Anvil Hill, Moolarben coal mine approvals, power greedy desalination plant (on Stateline again last night) where Sydney gets 1.2 metres of rain a year, etc etc.

Miners embrace climate change

By Tony Maher

September 19, 2007 12:00am

IN The Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore speaks of his family's struggle to come to terms with their history as tobacco farmers.

When faced with the evidence of tobacco's harmful affects, the family's initial instinct is to ignore it - until Gore's sister is herself stricken with lung cancer and the charade of business as usual is crushed forever.

The scene struck a chord with me - the national leader of Australian coal miners - who is charged with looking after both short term interests of wages and conditions - as well as long-term job security.

How do I do justice to my members and their communities by ignoring the evidence of global warming and resisting change in the industry, or by intervening before the prognosis is terminal? For the CFMEU mining union, the answer has always been to face reality. As far back as the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 we have been active participants in the global discussion to deal with the impact of humans on the environment; and of the fossil fuels our members mine, in particular.

This is not some position cooked up by a political secretariat - it is driven by our membership in coal mines.

Whenever I speak to coal miners, it is climate change - rather than short-term issues like wages and conditions - that are at the top of their agenda.

They want to understand the science and get an honest appraisal of the action required to safeguard the planet.

They want to talk about ways the coal industry can clean up its act; they are excited about new ideas like geo-sequestration and clean coal technologies; and they want to see their government supporting these initiatives in practical ways.

They are also aware that their legitimate fears about their own job security risk making them political pawns in a scare campaign - and the membership won't be made anyone's fools.

Don't get me wrong; coal miners are not martyrs - they view those calling for the overnight closing down of the Australian mining industry as dangerous extremists. But they see the climate change deniers as potentially more dangerous; because long-term inaction will be the precursor to a crisis that may well leave such radical measures as the only practical response.

This is why my members took the extraordinary step of voting to spend $1 million on a TV advertising campaign calling on the Federal Government to get serious about climate change, warning of the dangers to Australian industries if we continue to do nothing.

It's why my members have passed resolutions calling on the Howard Government to ratify Kyoto and set binding clean energy targets.

It is why my members are prepared to work with the environment movement and mining companies to build a blueprint for our industry that reduces emissions while continuing to meet the nation's energy demands.

My members accept the reality of climate change and see it as their responsibility to be part of the solution.

They want their kids to be proud of the work they do and the role they can play in making the world safer.

So when Don Henry from the Australian Conservation Foundation suggested that apply to be part of Al Gore's Climate Project Leadership program - which commences in Melbourne this week - I was happy to step forward.

Inviting a miner to be part of the program shows how far we have come. We are not, as some imagine, interested in only profiting from the earth. We don't seek employment without responsibility. We aim to work with the earth, not against it.

Being part of Gore's program will not only give me a broader perspective on the issue; it will give the CFMEU greater credibility to speak out.

To me this is more than learning how to work a Powerpoint presentation.

It's actually a chance to learn from the experiences of a true world leader, someone whose personal story has driven his political crusade and finally is pushing the world to act.

And that resonates with Australian coal miners, who have dived into the deep end of the climate change debate.

We have chosen to swim with the tide on climate change rather than struggle against it.

Like those southern US tobacco farmers faced with their own Inconvenient Truth, we know that waiting for the shouting to die down is just not an option.

The world is changing. We are changing with it. Because those who don't are doomed.

FORMER US vice president Al Gore is speaking today at a luncheon event at Darling Harbour. The event is a sell-out. News Limited, publisher of The Daily Telegraph, is a part sponsor of the event through The Australian.)

* Tony Maher is general president of the CFMEU's mining division.


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