Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Five percent

12 of the last 13 years of Australian federal politics, we had a conservative government. At a time when the rest of the world was starting to take on the concern that is climate change, our leader stood proudly behind the Americans in defiance of the scientific consensus. But as the warnings from leading climatologists became more mainstream in the media, there was a communal shift behind acting. And the Australian voters stood tall and elected a heroic figure that would save the day. That man was Kevin Rudd and in his decisive stance on climate change, to save the planet and show he's a world leader in the crusade to save the planet he's pledged Australia to cut emissions by... 5%?

The global financial crisis has given our government like many others a lot to think about. So while the government is investing many billions of dollars into infrastructure and giving handouts to those who would spend it on power-consuming LCD televisions, there's simply not any room for saving the environment. Why not research into new technologies? Why not put money into training more science and engineering students? Why not try to shift our failing economy away from a commodities market and into a world technological leader?

We've been enjoying the high commodity prices, turning environmental resources into economic capital. It turns out that we along with every other nation are harming the very planet we live on, and for a long time it's been done without a consideration for the long-term consequences. Finally now we are in an age where we can actually understand the implications for our actions and we are doing as little as possible to change our actions for the better. Perhaps helping the environment is one of those non-core promises that were a mark of the Howard years.

It's such a shame that our country has such little drive to actually save our planet, it's either a rejection of the science, an appeal to the economy or a cry of our insignificance on the world stage. "What about China?" Yes what about China? What are we doing to help them stop buying our coal? Are we giving them a better product, or one that is going to maximise our profits? Is this short drive for money in the nation's long-term interest? Is the great barrier reef a concern? Is ensuring there's enough water for our population to survive a concern? How has economics factored in these long term scarcities into the cost of each tonne of export we send overseas?

We've hit that situation in Australia where there's no reasonable alternative in tackling this problem, the "left" party is proposing a paltry 5% cut and the conservatives are still out on whether such a problem exists - or if it does how many jobs it will lose. There's not much we can do at all here, Kevin 07% (only if the international community agree on a 7% cut) has shown that his environmental credentials are mute. What can we do but hope that Barack Obama turns around 8 years of American inaction and actually has the balls to make the decisions that are needed to put earth back into the balance. Can Obama do it? Yes he can. Will it happen? Probably not. But a man can dream.

Each day of inaction is one more day of doing more damage to the environment. Sure there needs to be some time in order to formulate a comprehensive plan of action, but each moment we keep this polluting system going is quickly lessenning the time we have to fix the problem. The system is geared towards polluting, we need those fossil fuels to power our society. The sooner we start looking at putting in the infrastructure to break our dependance on fossil fuels the better. Otherwise our system will become more and more reliant on resources we are depleting at a rapid pace, each day we don't act the harder it will be to act in the future. The more expensive it will be too, but that's for future generations to worry about.

1 comment:

Pickle said...

Brilliant piece Kel.

"Each day of inaction is one more day of doing more damage to the environment" I couldn't agree with you more. This is really something people really need to realise, sitting around doing nothing is actively damaging the environment and is going to make things more difficult in the future (assuming something eventually gets done)