Humanity stands at the cusp of catastrophe
16 November 2021
CAIRNS - It truly beggars belief that the government of a wealthy, modern nation state, that prides 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 drive global heating and feedback loops is Science 101 for Grade 6.
The government that doesn’t get it presently runs Australia.
Tell me, what is so difficult to grasp about this.
The annual release into the atmosphere of billions of tonnes of previously stored carbon (carbon that took over 200 million years to accumulate as fossil fuel deposits) has resulted in a 30% increase in the concentration of long-lived greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and oceans.
Prior to the industrial revolution, this gas 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 our insatiable desire for cheap energy and the resultant frenetic extraction and combustion of coal, oil and natural gas.
It also beggars belief that more than 30 years after red flags about this problem were raised by informed scientists, we have a prime minister who thinks that the sale of more coal is in the interest of Australians or anyone else.
This remarkable feat of magical thinking - that money can override 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.
Humanity 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 British prime minister Chamberlain who, on the cusp of World War II, waved a piece of paper around and proclaimed “peace in our time” because he thought Adolf Hitler could be trusted.
Australia’s prime minister Morrison knows full well that his call for ‘business as usual’ is made in the knowledge that the existential threat posed to humanity – that’s all of us - through the continued use of fossil fuels is clear, present, genuine and real.
Morrison’s intransigence in the face of overwhelming evidence that we face a threat unimaginably greater than World War II borders on criminality worthy of prosecution.
The British journalist 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.
The Swedish environmental activist 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 stridently push its agendas, out of the way.
Replace these people with leaders who understand the gravity and enormity of the task that now confronts us and multiple generations to come.
Leaders who are committed to carbon free sources of energy with immediate and urgent effect, irrespective of any inconvenience that may cause to fossil fuel barons and those who profit from them.
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