Climate: the stupid reluctance of the rich
14 November 2021
COPOUT26 - The ‘Glasgow climate pact’ has just been adopted with the 37-strong Alliance of Small Island States expressing “extreme disappointment” after a last-minute intervention by India to ‘phase down’ rather than ‘phase out’ coal use and a failure by rich nations to agree a mechanism for poor countries to receive 'compensation', a word rich countries say they 'cannot countenance’ – KJ
ADELAIDE - Phil Fitzpatrick, in recent comments on PNG Attitude, has pointed out the true implications of any serious attempt to get to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
This has been amplified by Paul Oates and Bernard Corden, while Kindin Ongugo has voiced legitimate concerns about the COP26 climate change conference further disadvantaging the world's poorest people.
The bottom line in this whole debate is that the world cannot exert effective control over climate change unless and until the neo-liberal economic model, which requires constant growth in the production and consumption of goods and services, can be reined in.
In turn, this requires that the seemingly endless accumulation of debt being used to fund an absurdly wasteful and grossly unfair economic system must also come to an end.
This will necessarily mean that we citizens of the developed world, now recast in the role of consumers and debtors, must give up our obsession with the accumulation of the 'stuff' we often seek to give our lives meaning and comfort.
By stuff I refer to what Papua New Guineans call 'bilas', which I use here in the context of superfluous decoration, objects that glitter and make us feel better but are otherwise useless.
Much like bower birds, many of us are now thoroughly conditioned to want a great deal of stuff that has no practical purpose and little utility and which usually ends up in landfill or littering the landscape.
This stuff is simply the ultimate expression of planned obsolescence because it is manufactured solely in the expectation it will be thrown away.
It is possible to live a much simpler life and now, as the world’s climate becomes increasingly brutal, it is urgently necessary to do so.
I believe that embarking upon hugely less consumption-based lives will not only be good for our finances and the environment, but will liberate us from the pervasive influence of the marketing industry that helps under pin neo-liberal capitalism.
More and more people now realise the truth of this but I fear they are still a tiny minority.
Our political class probably knows what must be done but it seems unwilling to explain this to the people for fear of suffering serious electoral damage.
Not even the so-called Green Party has been explicit about what sacrifices the achievement of its policy goals will require.
I have written before of my expectation that the massive suffering caused by climate change will ultimately create the conditions under which the political class will have to admit the truth and apply the measures needed to try address a quite dreadful situation.
Right now, that moment is still a long way off.
Perhaps the only hope lies, rather perversely, in the collapse of the vast Ponzi scheme that we call international finance.
If the world's gargantuan debt mountain finally implodes, a crisis will ensue that may provoke the necessary introspection and the political resolve to do things differently.
As for the poorest people in the world, I fear that Kindin is correct and they will, as is usually the case, suffer many adverse impacts whatever the so-called developed world does.
In a world where billionaires fire themselves into space in rockets, sail vastly expensive cruisers and fly in corporate jets to discuss remediating climate change, we cannot expect much to change.
The very people who most benefit from the current system seem highly unlikely to dismantle it.
Until they begin to share the suffering from it.
Lindsay, a long time ago I published a short story about population explosion and the secret practice of overloaded morgues shipping their excess stock off to a dog food factory. A doggy version of Soylent Green.
If you've got a mutt and feed it tinned dog food keep an eye on it.
Meanwhile us vegans will continue to munch on our lettuce and spinach.
Posted by: Philip Fitzpatrick | 10 December 2021 at 11:51 AM
Not only is there a problem about climate. There is in the world's oceans the numerous floating garbage patches and each immense and increasingly so.
Along with disappearance of species of fauna and flora, the view that will emerge is of humans looking at humans as all else is eliminated.
Oh, maybe not all insects. maybe humans will develop more a taste for bugs.
Posted by: Lindsay F Bond | 10 December 2021 at 10:48 AM
Thank you for the link, Phil. About integrity, big things are evidenced by even small items. Some time back, on a aircraft from Port Moresby, a passenger had the appearance of John Hewson, so I said he looked familiar, and the man was gracious enough to reply that he had been the leader of the opposition.
Accurate without embellishment. I was impressed by both reply and respect.
Reminds me of similar respectful converse in 1986, that occurred at Horn Island near Thursday Island. A person no less than Herbert Cole "Nugget" Coombs exuded graciousness yet as might have been at any time of folks waiting for transport to their destination.
Posted by: Lindsay F Bond | 19 November 2021 at 11:53 AM
Following my comments about the next federal election where I said: "We have to abandon the old certainties of party rule in our parliaments and replace them with our own independent people who can hold the government to account and make it work in our favour and in the favour of the planet," it's heartening to see how many other people are thinking along the same lines viz:
Posted by: Philip Fitzpatrick | 19 November 2021 at 08:25 AM
Jeff Sparrow writing for The Guardian says:
"Global warming exacerbates every kind of inequality, disproportionately affecting the poorest and most oppressed people on the planet.
"In that way, it creates a tremendous potential constituency for direct politics, for a mass, participatory campaign to fundamentally reshape how humans relate to nature – and to each other."
Posted by: Philip Fitzpatrick | 17 November 2021 at 03:17 PM
It truly beggars belief that the government of a wealthy, modern nation state that prizes itself on the quality of its education system cannot comprehend the significance of the most basic laws of nature.
The physics and chemistry of how increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide drives global heating and feedback loops is Science 101 for Grade 6.
What is so difficult to grasp about this: the annual release of billions of tonnes of previously stored carbon into the atmosphere (carbon that took over 200 million years to accumulate as fossil fuel deposits) has resulted in a 30% increase in the concentration of very long lived “greenhouse gas” in the atmosphere and oceans.
This gas prior to the industrial revolution has been stable in the earth's atmosphere for millions of years.
The source of the huge increase greenhouse gas in the past 200 or so years is mankind’s insatiable desire for cheap energy and the ongoing frenetic extraction and combustion of coal, oil and natural gas.
It also beggars belief that more than 30 years after red flags were raised by informed scientists, we have a prime minister who thinks that the sale of more coal is the interest of Australians or anyone else.
This quite remarkable feat of magical thinking that money overrides the laws of physics and all is well so keep digging, when the most recent summary of climate research stresses the absolute urgency to "phase out" coal extraction and "phase down" oil and gas.
Mankind stands at the cusp of irreversible and catastrophic changes to climate extremes and feedback loops that will affect hundreds of millions of people and all of nature for millennia to come.
This is unconscionable behaviour. It is not like prime minister Chamberlain, who on the cusp of World War II waved a little piece of paper around and proclaimed “peace in our time” because he thought Hitler could be trusted.
Prime minister Morrison knows full well that his call for "business as usual" is made fully in the knowledge that the existential threat posed to all mankind through the continued use of fossil fuels is clear and present, genuine and real.
His intransigence in the face of overwhelming evidence that we face a treat unimaginably greater than that posed by World War II borders on criminality worthy of prosecution, as were the architects of World War II.
George Monbiot has a done sterling job attempting to communicate in lay terms the underlying science and the consequences of kicking the can down the road accompanied by wilful inaction.
Greta Thunberg has almost single-handedly projected the climate crisis as the most important issue facing her generation and all people today. Her message, “listen to the science” is correct and global.
As Philip Fitzpatrick says, if the younger generation is to enjoy the world that was bequeathed to the Baby Boomers, and indeed all prior generations before them, we have no choice but to sweep this “fossilised old guard” and all those who push their agendas stridently out of the way.
Replace them with leadership that understands the gravity and enormity of the task that now confronts us and multiple generations to come.
Leadership committed to carbon free sources of energy with immediate and urgent effect irrespective of any inconvenience that may cause fossil fuel barons and those who profit from them.
Posted by: Stephen Charteris | 16 November 2021 at 01:56 PM
I think any sensible person must conclude that COP26 has been an abject failure. The fossil fuel industry and their compliant friends in government have won.
Any hope that disastrous global warming can be avoided in the hands of these capitalist freebooters has been well and truly exposed as a myth.
They will continue to merrily plunder the resources of the planet until it dies.
The only useful thing COP26 has done is finally expose them for the ruthless and greedy despots that they are.
For Australia COP26 has been particularly shameful. Our prime minister went there and unambiguously confirmed what the world already knows, we are one of the most egregious contributors to climate change in the world.
The reputational damage he caused in Glasgow has now been piled on top of all the other carnage he has created. We are now a pariah nation that no one can trust.
The fate of the planet now rests with the ordinary people of the world. If we want to save the planet we have to do it despite our governments, not with them.
Can this be done? Is it possible for the meek to inherit the earth? The answer, despite the enormity of the question, is yes.
What we have to do, as quickly as possible, is replace our tired old leaders. We have to tip the balance in our favour.
We have to abandon the old certainties of party rule in our parliaments and replace them with our own independent people who can hold the government to account and make it work in our favour and in the favour of the planet.
Once we have the power we can then begin to reshape the government to better reflect our needs and aspirations and not those of a few corporate elites.
By voting in our own people in the upcoming federal election we can create a bloodless revolution and turn the tide of our future and the future of the planet.
You may think this is utopian madness and pie-in-the-sky but you only need to look at what is happening in our state parliaments to know that it is possible.
Our states, almost without exception, are repudiating our federal government on many fronts, not least about actions to arrest climate change and they are doing this because of pressure from their constituents.
Forget about Liberals and Labor and Nationals. They are yesterday’s people. Think about those people who can articulate a better future, not those who want to maintain the antiquated past.
Respected Guardian journalist George Monbiot, who is also appalled at what happened at COP26 says it will only take 25% of the public to tip the scales:
“Social convention, which has for so long worked against us, can if flipped become our greatest source of power, normalising what now seems radical and weird. If we can simultaneously trigger a cascading regime shift in both technology and politics, we might stand a chance.
“It sounds like a wild hope. But we have no choice. Our survival depends on raising the scale of civil disobedience until we build the greatest mass movement in history, mobilising the 25% who can flip the system.
“We do not consent to the destruction of life on Earth”.
Now is the time. We only have one chance.
COP26 has to be buried so we can get on with what’s needed.
Posted by: Philip Fitzpatrick | 16 November 2021 at 09:26 AM
The near break-down of Alok Sharma at COP26 spoke volumes. The prolonged and increasingly urgent applause that followed was not self-congratulatory.
Rather an appreciation for the valiant efforts of the chairman and a clarion cry of support for the global south whose Herculean efforts over the past fortnight to plead their collective case was dashed by the world’s third largest polluter at the death.
I wonder which other smirking power co-sponsored that.
We remain on target for 2.4 degrees, a reduction of just 0.3 degrees after all the begging of COP. The biggest polluters have kicked the can down the road way beyond 2030.
China, India, Russia and 'good ol' Australia in particular have contributed nothing towards the vital reductions required in emissions this decade to ensure a liveable climate.
Their lack of ambition and action is cynical and criminal.
The battle lines are now clearly drawn. Those who want a future for their children, for the Amazon, for coral reefs, for humanity and for our blue planet know that only non-carbon energy sources will cut it.
The carbon apologists, planet wreckers, political enablers, liars and self-serving classes must be swept aside and sequestered deep within the bowels of the earth for good.
Posted by: Stephen Charteris | 14 November 2021 at 03:19 PM
Yes Keith & Bernard, Whilst the ever-present would-be dictatorial prime ministerial candidate hovers in his bald hills eyrie.
Posted by: William Dunlop | 14 November 2021 at 12:54 PM
Climate Activists Say Loopholes in COP26 Pact “Make Mockery” of Negotiations:
Posted by: Bernard Corden | 14 November 2021 at 10:57 AM
"Democracy has become a business plan, with a bottom line for every human activity, every dream, every decency, every hope. The main parliamentary parties are now devoted to the same economic policies – socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor – and the same foreign policy of servility to endless war. This is not democracy. It is to politics what McDonald's is to food" - John Pilger (2009)
Meanwhile, in Australia our ecclesiastical puppet spruiks 'Can Do Capitalism' and another unflushable turd is lurking round the bend:
"No one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it" - George Orwell
Posted by: Bernard Corden | 14 November 2021 at 09:04 AM
There is a proverbial elephant that sits in the room that no one seems either able to understand, grapple with or even willing to discuss, lets alone confront.
I speak of the world's population steady increase, despite the latest pandemic. The fact is that there are parts of the world that have more people than can be supported by the available resources of food and fresh water.
This inevitably gives rise to famine and enforced migration.
Until and unless world leaders (read mega rich who are in control of the world leaders), take their collective heads out of the sand and start listening and appreciating what is happening before their eyes, it will be like the Louis 15th of France who reputedly said, "After me the flood", that is "I'll keep doing what I know and like and let my successor inherit the results".
We should all take note of what happened to Louis 16th!
I - POPULATION
Climate and population scientists agree that population is an issue in climate change but they also agree that the link between population and climate change has been broken as both population growth and fertility rates trend down. As of 2018, people over 65 outnumbered children under 5 worldwide for the first time in history. In both China and the US — the top two emitters — the average woman gives birth to 1.6 children, below the 2.1 replacement rate. Human fertility rates decrease but emissions hit record levels. Population growth is not a major factor - KJ
II - APRES MOI LE DELUGE
The famous Dr Brewer whose 1870 Dictionary of Phrase and Fable I reckon is one of the best reads ever, had a more nuanced view of that famous utterance of Louis XIV, explaining it as "When I am dead the deluge may come for aught I care" or "Ruin, if you like, when we are dead and gone" - KJ
Posted by: Paul Oates | 14 November 2021 at 08:32 AM