Tasmanian Times


Global warming and eternal growth …

Bob Brown at a Save the Tarkine rally. Picture: Matt Newton

Well most of us citizens have worked out that climate change is a reality and is pretty certain to be the result of human activity.  It appears that across the world only odd Trump like dribbles of conservatism, including much of our local Coalition government are still parading in denial.

But the majority of people are ready to make changes.  Now the problem is we are not entirely sure how to go about this, how to rectify our behavior.

Some parts are easy, for example renewables.  And people’s governments such as the ALP in Victoria and a future Federal ALP are empowering folk to carry out a solar revolution.

However the big question remains unanswered: We know that global warming kicked off with the rise of Eighteenth Century industrialization, people in Europe firing up small scale coal workshops, powering machines to create objects, trains, boats, rails, nails and so on.  Then the next slice of logic is historically accepted as well.

Namely the subsequent rise of bourgeoise capitalism … that beast requiring eternal growth, returning a grand profit at the expense of labour and the environment and always pumping out more goods or services in which to sustain an affluent life styles of a few.

The capitalist eternal growth economy is the instrument of global warming. And economic growth is the underpinning of capitalist economy.   This also remains true for the state capitalism of China.

The China rise … all carried out in the creation of industrialization, pumping CO2 into the atmosphere through masses of coal, much of it exported from, yes us, Australia.  So China raised its living standards to a more western model and we plundered a resource, best friend of global warming, coal, for own affluence.   CO2 emission galore!

Mining of course is a mainstay of our economy.  We appear to prefer the rape and plunder style economy in this country, rip us the earth for resources or plunder the soil through inappropriate forms of agriculture.  Both of course underpin our growth economy but ultimately neither option is sustainable.

Interestingly Services {really this is about shuffling everyone’s money around and the rich taking an unfair share of the movement) and Tourism are often touted as a potential to employ thousands of people as mining and agriculture decline.

Recently that eminent Tasmanian Bob Brown surprisingly emerged with a rather capitalist means of saving the magnificent Tarkine from wood choppers, namely tourism.  In theory an excellent idea, in theory? However if we think of wealthy folk flying in from the mainland of from across the world, driving down to south Tasmania, we have some pretty significant global emissions in just reaching the tourist point. So capitalism here provides us with two worst options… wood chopping or tourism. Is it not possible leave the Tarkine alone?

By and large tourism is about poor under employed folk catering to the whims and pleasures of the better off, well really, cleaning up after the bourgeoisie and assisting in catering for their food pleasures.  Tourism bosses might make a great deal of money, but only casualized, servile jobs for workers.

It might be interesting to calculate the emissions generated by construction of luxury accommodation trucked in the southern Tasmania, transport costs for the workforce… might the emissions perhaps out way any benefits, even before we see fly-ins?

However mass protest have worked before, Dr Brown would remember…undoubtedly the best option for the Tarkine.

So we must ease ourselves out the eternal growth economy of capitalism to stop global warming.  Look at those grand school kids berated by our coal hugging Prime Minister, ready to leave school and protest at government inactivity on climate change. Great kids, showing us a path to the future.

The road block of course is always vested interests at a higher level, the masters of industry, the tsars of the economy, the political conservatives.  Clearly they are going to fight any structural changes to the capitalist system.  Profit and growth are their raison d’etre.  Frankly leaving such people in charge of the mission to curb global warming is a little like leaving a pedophile priest in charge of a school.

It might not be quite as difficult a revolution we think.  Taking the proverbial cricket bat to Governments who don’t set us on the path to curbing emission.  Time for citizens to rejoin unions, not just for better wages but for pressuring businesses who do not implement changes to mitigate global warming… naming and shaming.  Remember the mining tax, insist on its return and that mining taxes are returned to climate change mitigation reforms.  Perhaps a slice of share holder profits in the service sector might also be swerved off in this direction… just keep thinking fellow citizens.  And never forget the power of people protest!

Josephine Zananiri lives in the Independent electorate of Indi and currently works in the manual labour arena tending native and exotic trees,  so has plenty of time to think.  Followed everywhere by her two dogs Percy and Fino who generally agree on all subjects, only occasionally deserting the conversation in the chase for samba deer!  Slight differences in logic can therefore be attributed to the two woofers leaving their critical post!

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  1. Paul Hayes

    December 8, 2018 at 11:23 am

    If human-induced climate change is fact, then surely less population growth would be a good thing .. yet since the year 2000 the world’s population has grown 82 million PER YEAR. Australia’s population since the year 2000 has grown by 25%.

    Our own state premier Will Hodgman is all for population growth. How can we “solve” climate change if our population always goes up?

    • Kim Peart

      December 8, 2018 at 6:07 pm

      Population growth is a branch issue of the human presence on Earth, where our main challenge is to become sustainable, no matter what the population is.

      To suggest that population control will solve the carbon crisis is a distraction from the main game of winning back a safe Earth.

      We need to stop the killing brought on by rising levels of CO2 in the air, and begin ensuring that humankind can survive.

      We will not suddenly get a perfect Earth, but a ten year plan, mobilised within the year, could stand a chance of inspiring the general population of Earth into helping hammer a working solution to the crisis into a viable shape.

      The question then is, what should this plan include?

      I suggest on Earth alone we will only ratchet the killing spree on Earth, and with predictions of a sudden rise in heat, the population problem will be solved through death, but the consequences may also result in too much damage to the planet, made worse if environmental crisis leads to large numbers of people seeking safe lands, nations panicking, and conflict sliding into nuclear madness.

      We need more than armchair pipe-smoke to nail the multi-level crisis that we face on this planet.

      We need an energy level great enough to extract excess CO2 from the air until it’s under 350 ppm .. now racing beyond 400 ppm by 2 ppm per annum.

      It is the atmospheric CO2 level that is the key problem, as to keep planet temperature rise under 1.5C requires a CO2 level in the air under 350 ppm, a level last seen in the 1980s.

      We must now apply a technological solution to the multi-level crisis, which can include:~

      — Building solar power stations in space and use the Sun’s energy to extract excess CO2 from the air.
      — Constructing an adjustable sunshade above Earth to help cool the planet as excess CO2 is being extracted.
      — Begin moving heavy industry into space to improve human sustainability on Earth.
      — Identify a sustainable human presence on Earth, and inspire global action on that.
      — Use the power of the Sun to help fix all strife on Earth, such as by building robots in space factories that can be sent to Earth to clean plastics from the oceans.

      We are at the technical level now where we could supply all energy needs from ground-based solar power generation, but to extract excess CO2 from the air, and deal with it, will requires a much higher level of energy, especially as this work must happen as soon as possible to be effective.

      A plan that actually offers hope can inspire action by all people on Earth.

      • Russell

        December 15, 2018 at 8:04 am

        When are you going to put solar panels on your own roof, Kim?

        Stop preaching and actually do something.

  2. Mark Hawkes

    December 4, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    ‘We know that global warming kicked off with the rise of Eighteenth Century industrialisation,‘

    If that is the case, then what kicked off the medieval warm period?

    • Kim Peart

      December 4, 2018 at 10:32 pm

      Has planet Earth had the same temperature and sea level for the past few million years? Nope. There are natural swings between ice ages and warmer periods.

      There are many influencers, such as an asteroid, super-volcano and the Sun itself, which is becoming more radiant over time, and is now 35% hotter than at its birth 4.5 billion years ago.

      The Earth is not flat, and it wobbles as it goes around the furnace that is our star.

      The warmer period of the Middle Ages was simply a variation in the Earth’s heat balance, but as the Sun has been getting hotter the Earth system has been able to maintain an even keel for life, which includes ice ages and paradise millennia, as we have had now for 8,000 years.

      But the Mediaeval world did go cold again, disrupting Viking survival in Greenland which was more related to attitude than survival.

      Having become Christian, the Greenland Norse settlers were encouraged to maintain their rational ways rather than learning from the Inuit who did survive the cold, and who are still there.

      The take-home lesson must be to learn new ways to survive.

      The problem we face now is the direct link between the level of atmospheric CO2 and the heat level that this has delivered, and will keep delivering.

      This is basic science, like the equations that deliver an atomic bomb, so I am assuming that basic science is not in question.

      The problem that we face now is the speed at which CO2 has been, and now is, increasing in the air, and which will deliver future heat rises because CO2 works slowly at building up the heat.

      But once that heat has built up it doesn’t go down very fast, as it is maintained by the CO2 blanket in the air, a blanket that is getting thicker.

      Add to the CO2 problem the simple fact that the Sun is warmer than it was at any previous time, so the speed of the rise of CO2 in the air is a serious destabiliser of the Earth system.

      This is why James Lovelock has warned of a sudden jump in temperature as the Earth system will shift to a permanently hotter state, and with an environment that is hostile to us with heat, humidity, storm events, sea level rise, changes in plant biology (already happening) and increasing ocean acidity.

      We have seen one way that change happens with the burning of the rainforest in the heat wave in Queensland in the past week.

      This event may now kick on to impact the Great Barrier reef, with both heat that goes into the sea, ash from the fires and run-off from the land, with the prediction of a third major bleaching event due to an ocean heat wave.

      Recent findings have found 60% more heat has been going into the oceans than previously known of because the instruments to detect the heat were not there before.

      We now need to get smart, and pretty fast, to work out a survival strategy, or, like the Norse in Greenland, we could face extinction as the Earth goes to war with us.

  3. Kim Peart

    December 4, 2018 at 10:25 am

    On the question of solar modules on roofs in Tasmania, we know that this can cut power bills, but what is the green connection on an island with renewable hydro power?

    Solar modules, solar thermal plants and even wave power, could be put to work to help desalinate ocean water, and pump this water to any location in Tasmania to drought-proof this island, top up hydro dams, and supply water for many small hydro power stations around Tasmania.

    Heat, fire, and loss of rain-forest in Queensland in recent days will do one thing quite effectively: inspire more people to move to Tasmania.

    As this continent gets hotter, and more dangerous, we can expect a monster population influx onto this island. Are we planning for that?

    If a canary in the coal mine is needed on this island, consider the continuing dry conditions on the East Coast.

    If we have the vision to energy and drought-proof this island, and be smart enough to plan for a population influx, we can also look toward all engines being electric.

    Will we be smart enough to invest in survival on this island?

    A whole of island survival plan is needed.

  4. Rob Halton

    December 3, 2018 at 10:37 pm

    Geoff Holloway, BBF does not deserve any public money in pursuit of their imaginary ideals of walking track construction networks to attract tourists!

    Its only five years ago since the TFA legislation in 2013 was struck and then the Messiah and his disciples were talking about a track network heading across the “wilderness” from the Upper Russell Valley linking into the Styx and Florentine valley through some forestry areas, the plan was only talk!

    It was never clear and still remains unclear with the BBF when they struck up an interest with former FT head native forest silviculturist John Hickey to take over foresty coupes that had been caught up in the change over status from state forest into Reserves as some sort of environmental goodwill to plant these area in lieu of a final CBS treatment by FT during the changeover.

    From my field observations and I am no stranger to good forestry management especially with native forest regeneration, coupes caught up in the handover remain untouched in both the Upper Russell, Styx valley areas and at least another one on Clear Hill Road remaining unburnt with rotting logging slash and wet forest scrub species proliferating with no high profile wet forest eucalypt regrowth emerging! A legacy of incomplete forest management left in the hands of BBF and hangers on!

    In my opinion BBF and their followers cannot be trusted with bundles of government money as there is no past or present proof of performance in environmental vegetation management has been caried out!

    Anyone that knows their way around the bush in Tasmania knows the “wilderness” is well crisscrossed with interesting walking tracks.

    The publishers of “THE ABELS” both volume one and volume two are comprehensive guides for detailed access to the States mountains over 1100 meters high provides locals and visitors alike with a lifetime of choices for worthwhile walks.

    There is more than ample information on walking in Tasmania available on the internet.

  5. Kim Peart

    December 3, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    Was this article a rant, a blowing off of steam? I could not see any indicator to a plan that will deal with and fix the key CO2 strife that we now face.

    For anyone who accepts James Hansen’s finding that temperature rise above 1.5 C is too much, we need to consider the other side of that equation. Hansen also found that it would be atmospheric CO2 above 350 parts per million (ppm) that would deliver 1.5C.

    Here lies the problem that needs to be focused on. 350 ppm CO2 was a level that we sailed past in the 1980s. What is the simple conclusion of that?

    A 1980s level of CO2 in the air locked us into a future temperature rise of 1.5C .. now going beyond 400 ppm and rising further by 2 ppm per annum, which is further future heat rise. Does anyone get that?

    By simple deduction, all additional CO2 rise since the 1980s is additional future heat rise .. by who knows how many degrees?

    At the present 1 C temperature rise we are witnessing an unprecedented heat event in Queensland, and warnings of a third bleaching event of its Great Barrier Reef due to an ocean heat wave. Much of the heat from the Queensland heat event will be sucked into the ocean, thereby increasing the threat to the coral.

    James Lovelock attempted to tell us that a heat rise can be sudden, and offered solid reasons for this (“The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning”, 2009) but who has followed the trail of questions to see what he means Such warnings appear to be conveniently ignored.

    One environmental scientist, Guy McPherson, added up the CO2 sums and concluded that a sudden heat event can happen within the coming decade, which he suggests will be an extinction level event.

    Not knowing when heat will rise to 3C and beyond, and how swiftly, there is one key environmental question on Earth today. How do we get atmospheric CO2 down below 350 ppm? Where will the energy come from to do this work?

    What is the best way to cool the Earth, as CO2 is being extracted from the air? How do we mobilise globally for this level of environmental action?

    I would like to know what the plan is to win back a safe Earth with CO2 in the air below 350 ppm. We need this plan on the table today, and to mobilise action within a year. This may need to be a ten year plan.

    Squabbles over who has what and how much, as with this article, are a blatant denial of the real problem that we face. We don’t have a hundred years to become perfect.

    Our crisis began ticking like a bomb in the 1980s.

    Once we have the mechanics of a solution to the carbon crisis in play, and can identify the year we will get a safe planet back again, we can direct our attention to social equity matters, and how we can design a sustainable human presence on this planet.

    Right now, we face a pure survival matter.

    When we neglect survival, where are we?

    • Russell

      December 4, 2018 at 7:22 am

      When we take no personal responsibility and action by putting solar modules or wind turbines on our roofs, and just talk, talk, talk .. we are neglecting not just our own survival but our most basic DUTY to care for our planet for generations to come.

      Do something Kim, don’t just talk.

      • Kim Peart

        December 4, 2018 at 10:04 am

        What is the physical implication of 350 ppm CO2 which will deliver 1.5C temperature rise, having been sailed by in the 1980s?

        How much temperature rise are we actually sailing into, with atmospheric CO2 rising beyond 400 ppm at 2 ppm per annum?

        How will that much CO2 be extracted from the air, and dealt with, and by when?

        Where will the energy come from to do this work?

        Can anyone address this question?

        • Russell

          December 5, 2018 at 6:37 am

          When are you going to take personal responsibility?

          No wonder you keep trying to get elected into various government levels and fail when you don’t answer questions directly, and you do NOTHING yourself.

          • Kim Peart

            December 5, 2018 at 7:51 am

            Is there an answer the questions that I raise?

            The answer to these questions will then reveal the kind of action needed to win back a safe Earth.

            If we are not on-track collectively to win back a safe Earth, then personal actions may feel good, but will not prevent a carbon catastrophe which may simply send us tumbling into oblivion.

            Anyone with a plan of action that will actually win back a safe Earth can speak to this, so that the plan may be examined.

            When others are attacked, there is the impression of a smoke-screen being used to distract.

            Why is a smoke-screen necessary as a method of debate?

          • Russell

            December 6, 2018 at 6:56 am

            That’s it Kim, keep your head in the sand and rant away and don’t answer any of my questions while you personally do absolutely NOTHING to combat climate change.

            When are you going to put solar panels on your roof?

  6. Geoff Holloway

    December 3, 2018 at 11:48 am

    It is not just capitalism but also socialism that requires continual growth!

    Meanwhile the Bob Brown Foundation has employed a lobbyist to try to convince the Federal Government to contribute $20 million towards construction of a track through the Tarkine in pursuit of tourism.

    As you say Russell, “Is it not possible to leave the Tarkine alone?” The answer is No according to Brown and his acolytes who have a totally experiential attitude to wilderness, ie, if one cannot directly experience wilderness it does not exist, let alone have a right to exist. Incidentally, according to US research, experiencing wilderness directly only increases support or advocacy for wilderness to a very limited extent.

  7. Russell

    December 3, 2018 at 7:06 am

    “It appears that across the world only odd Trump like dribbles of conservatism, including much of our local Coalition government are still parading in denial.”

    It’s much bigger than that, and largely made up of the Christian lobby. Their whole religious world falls apart if they stray from the teachings of the New Testament which has been interpreted to “do as you want, live for the now, God will forgive you and let you into heaven if you believe in Jesus.” and “Climate change is normal, it’s happened before. Noah will come along with his Ark and start his incestuous world all over again.” and “We haven’t evolved, we were created!”

    So the polluting destruction of our planet and its surrounds is our creation. I would call that DEVOLUTION.

    “Tourism bosses might make a great deal of money, but only casualised, servile jobs for workers.”

    Mostly sought from the ranks of backpackers, long-term unemployed or homeless desperate for a little extra cash. They’re treated like crap and paid the same despite them largely being very good at their jobs.

    Money is God.

    • Josephine

      December 3, 2018 at 9:36 am

      Yes Russell agreed, the religious nutters need their own category of climate change denialism, perhaps hot holy hell on earth advocates. The Trump/ conservative deniers are all about political expedience.

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