Tag Archives: climate-change

Dear Mr Turnbull – India is leaving us behind

Originally posted on Climate Denial Crock of the Week: India charging ahead on renewables. Vying with China for global leadership in the growth industry of the new century. Meanwhile, Washington looks longingly to the 19th century. Watch for new video on this topic coming very soon. Meanwhile, Denmark has decided to offload oil interests, and…

via As US Dithers, World Charges Ahead to Renewables — Die Erste Eslarner Zeitung – Aus und über Eslarn, sowie die bayerisch-tschechische Region!

India is surging ahead with renewables because the India government recognizes that renewables will be cheaper in the long run than fossil fuels. China is doing the same, and both countries are positioned to become the power houses of industry in the coming decades.

But where does that leave Australia? Fumbling in the dark, that’s where. We could have become world leaders in solar technology, but the lack of political vision and will sent our innovative companies offshore, and now we import the technology from…China.

All that potential, wasted, because our politicians are ‘scared’ of upsetting the apple cart. So instead of leading, we follow, and in the process, we get left further and further behind.

Ten years ago, the Australia people voted with their wallets when they installed record numbers of rooftop solar panels. But instead of rewarding us, successive governments have tried to slow or stop small scale solar altogether.

And then there’s Adani…taxpayer dollars to fund the hope of short term gain. Pathetic.

Meeks

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A smelly but good news tech post

Apologies if this puts anyone off, but I’m really excited by this innovative way of dealing with sewage. Not only does it make something useful out of a big, smelly problem, it does so in a ‘relatively’ small space. [Conventional sewage works take up acres and acres and acres of land that could be used for other things].

To read how this innovative approach actually works, please read the article on New Atlas:

http://newatlas.com/mimic-nature-sewage-oil/46260/?li_source=LI&li_medium=default-widget

As a sci-fi writer I’m interested in all kinds of futuristic world building and one of my earliest ideas was for an ‘undercity’ built to replace much of Melbourne, post sea level rises that drown the lower reaches. Obviously, the new undercity would have to be built on much higher ground to avoid being drowned as well, but it would have lots of big advantages – temperature would remain more or less constant, bushfires would no longer be a danger and the land above the city could be used for productive agriculture. [At the moment, all Australian cities spread outward and our suburbs are built on land that would be better used for the growing of food].

One major problem with this undercity, however, was the issue of waste. I imagined food waste being ‘eaten’ by the SL’ick [synthetic life chickens that look like huge worms made of chicken breast meat], but I simply could not come up with an innovative way of dealing with the body wastes we humans produce. Until now. One small step for my world of the future, one large step for waste management. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


Australian #politics – the bad, the bad and the ugly

rip 2016On Saturday, July 1, 2016, Australia voted in a double dissolution election [for House of Representatives and Senate at the same time], but five days later we still don’t know which party will govern.

Nevertheless, we can safely say that Malcolm Turnbull has lost. If the Liberals remain in power, Turnbull may remain as Prime Minister, but his effectiveness will be severely compromised, as will his legacy.

So how did Malcolm Turnbull, one of the most respected and admired politicians in recent history, manage to lose his appeal in such a spectacular fashion?

The answer, I believe, is very simple, Malcolm was not allowed to be Malcolm and voters punished the party for it. To understand this, it’s important to understand the right wing, conservative, faceless, faction heavy weights of the Liberal party. They :

  1. loved Tony Abbott,
  2. hated Malcolm Turnbull [they still do]
  3. had to acknowledge that Tony Abbott was almost universally hated by voters,
  4. had to acknowledge that Malcolm Turnbull was liked and respected by voters on both sides of the Liberal/Labor divide

[confession: I liked him too and I’m a Labor voter],

Taking points 3 and 4 into consideration, it eventually became obvious that the party would suffer a landslide loss if Abbott stayed as Prime Minister. Worse still, only the hated Malcolm Turnbull would have any traction with voters. So after much gnashing of teeth, the conservatives gave in and offered Turnbull a deal: they would support his coup against Tony Abbott, but only if he [Turnbull] continued to toe the party line established by Abbott.

In hindsight, this seems rather crazy until you consider that the right wing has never had any time for Climate Change, or marriage equality or even that pesky NBN. So they were prepared to use the Turnbull popularity with the electorate but without all that small ‘l’ liberal nonsense.

What is less clear is why Malcolm Turnbull and his supporters accepted such a backhanded and hamstrung endorsement.

My personal guess is that Turnbull et al., must have seen the writing on the wall and grabbed what they could, believing [probably accurately] that he would never have a better chance of becoming Prime Minister.

So Malcolm and the conservatives struck a deal and for a while, the strategy appeared to work. Liberal popularity in the polls went up as Malcolm rode a wave of public hope.

We believed in Malcolm. Wasn’t he the man who lost the leadership of the Liberal party because he stuck to his principles on climate change? What greater sacrifice could a politician make? And wasn’t he also the man who openly supported gay marriage? And in a way, despite selling out on the full glory of the NBN, he at least managed to stop Abbott from scuttling it completely.

So Malcolm was our hero, and we believed that finally we would get a government that most of the country could swing behind. He might be a Liberal, but he was a good Liberal. Maybe even another Menzies [arguably the ‘best’ Prime Minister in Australia’s political history].

But then the winds of change began to blow a little cold. Week followed week and nothing we’d hoped for eventuated. Nothing on Climate Change. Nothing on marriage equality. Nothing on Refugees. Nothing on anything that any of us plebs actually cared about. What was going on?

In time, some of us began to think that Malcolm was playing a long game. Yes, he was under the conservative thumb now, but after the next election he’d be so successful that the conservatives would have to crawl back into their holes and finally, finally Malcolm could be himself.

I truly believe this was a part of the PM’s strategy when he called a double dissolution on an issue that no one seemed to care about, including him.

The trouble with this strategy was that Malcolm’s popularity declined in direct proportion to the release of policy after policy that favoured the big end of town while asking us to accept all the sacrifices required to balance the budget [at some point in the future].

Australians pride themselves on giving everyone a ‘fair go’, and we’ll happily dig deep to help those laid low by disaster [witness the 30 plus million dollars raised by public donations after the Black Saturday bushfires here in Victoria]. But Australians also have a history of distrusting the super rich and the big end of town. If the Liberals had offered genuine support to small business, we might well have tightened our belts and got on with it, but they offered incentives to companies and corporations that did not need the help. And they were going to pay for it by making us do without.

That major miscalculation was rooted in the conservative concept of the ‘trickle down’ effect. In essence, it means that if government supports big business, big business will generate growth which will lead to jobs which will lead to greater prosperity for all.

Sadly, most people in the Western world have now had first hand experience of the trickle down effect and they know it doesn’t work. So when Malcolm and the rest of the Liberals bleated about jobs and growth, we weren’t listening. Added to this disinterest was a great disappointment – we’d had such high hopes for Malcolm and he hadn’t lived up to our expectations. Malcolm wasn’t Malcolm. Had he changed his mind about all the things we thought he cared about? Or had he sold us out just to be PM?

I think we might still have voted for Malcolm if not for the brilliant campaign run by Bill Shorten. I personally dislike the man and can’t see myself trusting someone who stabbed two Labor Prime Ministers in the back in order to be given the job of opposition leader. Nevertheless, despite all expectations to the contrary, Bill Shorten ran an inspired campaign. He picked up on all the disenchantment of ordinary voters – including their fears for Medicare – and hammered them home.

In the final analysis, however, Shorten’s campaign would not have been as effective if the right wing conservatives had allowed Malcolm to be Malcolm. Instead, they muzzled the goose that might have laid their golden egg, and now they’re spinning all sorts of ‘reasons’ to explain its failure to deliver.

I feel sorry for Malcolm Turnbull because I can understand his desperation to finally wear the mantle of PM. But the truth is, when he sold out to the conservative right, he lost the perceived integrity that made him popular in the first place, and with that, he lost the very thing he wanted most – validation.

In my last post I talked about the disaffection of Western voters, and how this might lead to a change in how we ‘do’ democracy but in the meantime, we are protesting about the lack of integrity of our politicians in the only way we can – by kicking them out. This, too, is democracy.

cheers

Meeks

 


#climatechange, #refugees and business as usual

Photo courtesy www.wolaver.org

Photo courtesy http://www.wolaver.org

North Africa and the Middle East too hot for human life?

Yes, that is the upshot from this article from Quartz.

If you care about how your children will be living in 50 years time, I highly recommend reading the whole article.

If you don’t have the time to read the whole thing I’ll boil it down to this:

  • climate change will push the populations of North Africa and the Middle East out of North Africa and the Middle East,
  • those populations will become refugees
  • where will those refugees go?

The article ends with this:

The last couple years have shown that the world is pretty bad at managing large-scale migration, but that may turn out to be a mere trial-run for things to come.

As an Australian living half a world away from North Africa and the Middle East, I should be immune to the problems of that area, right?

Wrong.

If climate change makes North Africa and the Middle East unlivable, it will do the same in the Pacific area…in my own backyard.

There are island nations in the Pacific – e.g. Tuvalu – which are already close to being submerged. What happens to the populations of these island nations when their homes are finally covered by the sea?

I can tell you they will not wait around to go down with the ship. They will become refugees too.

Where will they go? I think Australia is a pretty safe bet.

Now multiply these two examples with the number of low-lying countries in the world, and you can see why we have to come up with some effective, efficient and equitable way of helping people move out of harm’s way.

Climate change is not going away. Refugees are not going away. This problem is not going away because, apart from the rhetoric, our governments have chosen to do nothing about climate change. It’s too hard. It’ll cost too much money. Voters won’t like it. So let’s do nothing and hope the problem goes away [see pic at the beginning of this post].

But in real life, you make a choice, even when you choose to do nothing. It’s called the default option. For us, that means ‘adaptation’.

Do you know what adaptation means? It means dealing with a disaster after it happens and living, or dying, with the consequences. It ain’t pretty and one of the inevitable consequences will be mass migrations, the likes of which we cannot even imagine.

I probably won’t be around to suffer too much, but what about the Offspring? Or your offspring?

And for those who do not believe that ‘we’ could possibly have an impact on the Earth’s climate, have a look at this:

Photo courtesy NASA

Photo courtesy NASA

This is the US of A, photographed at night, from space. See all those bright lights? Those are cities filled with people eating, sleeping, driving their cars, working. Those people are creating carbon dioxide [and other] pollutants just by living their lives. And the US is just one developed country.

As individuals, we are like individual sticks – easily broken. But put us all together and even a giant can’t break us. That is my version of the old Aesops fable.

But that story has a darker, more modern version as well, and it goes something like this – as individuals, we are powerless to destroy the Earth, but put all 8 billion of us together and the Earth doesn’t stand a chance.

Climate change >> refugees >> a problem we cannot ignore.

Meeks

 


Vertical Farming, now and into the future

The key concept in the following video is that cities can become food producers instead of just food consumers…via vertical farming. But what is vertical farming? Is it the kind of inner city, urban farming that happened in Havana [Cuba]? Or is it ‘just’ hydroponics farming? Or is it something more?

The examples of vertical farming begin at about 11 minutes into this 13 minute video. Well worth the investment in time.

My thanks to A.C. Stark for introducing me to both the video and the concept of vertical farming. A.C. Stark’s site is full of interesting posts that range from politics to climate change.

cheers

Meeks


Atmotube tells you if the air you’re breathing is toxic

I believe the attitudes of society change one individual at a time. That is why we should ALL buy one of these. We need to see – in real time – what we’re doing to the world…and ourselves. Read on:

Like you, I assume that the environment I am sitting in right now is pretty safe. I mean, I don’t see anything dangerous, feel uncomfortable, or smell anything that I should be worried about. Yet I may be filling my lungs with harmful elements that my cognitive sensory abilities are incapable of noticing.

Source: Atmotube tells you if the air you’re breathing is toxic


#Apple and climate change

apple logo “Apple announced Thursday that its China operations are now 100 percent powered by renewable energy, leaving it carbon neutral in the country. That brings them in line with its U.S. operations, which are likewise run off 100 percent renewable energy.

Worldwide, Apple says its operations are now 87 percent green…”

Read the rest of this Venturebeat article here:

https://wordpress.com/read/post/feed/26908997/841304834

I don’t particularly like Apple the company, or any of the Apple products. I don’t even like iTunes very much. But. I. Do. Like.Their. Position. On. Climate. Change.

I also admire the fact that one of the biggest, most popular companies in the world is putting its money where it’s mouth is. Now if only governments worldwide could do the same.

cheers

Meeks

p.s. Would you believe this is my 700th post? I know. Me neither.


How we Aussies appear to the rest of the world

One of the messages Tony Abbott and the Liberals bleeted ad nauseum before the last election [as a justification for getting rid of the Carbon Tax] was “why should we cripple our economy when it won’t do any good anyway?”.

That was not a direct quote of course, I just paraphrased the ‘message’. Well, I was given a most compelling answer yesterday by Lew Blaustein of New York.

As some of you may remember, Lew is a climate change activist who is marrying the message of climate change with something far more popular –  sport.

Lew and I had a long chat about the Carbon Tax via Skype, and the gist of that conversation appears in Lew’s latest post :

http://greensportsblog.com/2013/11/27/australias-carbon-tax-forces-need-a-big-comeback/comment-page-1/#comment-200

Now I knew more or less what Lew would say, but the thing that truly surprised me was the cred. we Australians had on the world stage… because of our Carbon Tax! Surprise, surprise but the rest of the world was watching us. They applauded when the Carbon Tax went through, and mourned when it became clear it would be repealed by the Mad Monk and his cronies.

Australia may be a very small country but we’ve always been proud of ‘punching above our weight’. What we do matters, and that’s the single most heartening point I took from Lew’s post.

Are we going to follow the rest of the world like sheep? Or are we going to reclaim that international cred. bestowed on us by our willingness to do something about Climate Change?

Personally, I’d be really chuffed if we Australians were known for our sporting prowess, as well as our courage off the field.

cheers

Meeks


Doing something about Climate Change can be fun!

I’ve just discovered you can never predict how and when you will meet another kindred spirit! I’m not a sporty person by any stretch of the imagination, but thanks to my friend Candy Korman, and my post on the Climate Change rally, I’ve just met Lew Blaustein from New York City.

Lew is a blogger who combines his passion for sport with his passion for climate change action in posts that speak the language of sports fans. You can read some of Lew’s posts here and here.

For now though I’d like to share a Nike commerical that Lew showed me. Yes, a commercial. Trust me on this, you’ll enjoy it!

I doubt Nike intended to support action on climate change, and I’m not sure whether basketball superstar LeBron James had that intention either, but this one commercial boosted the uptake of bicycle riding by something like 10%. It almost got me off my chair as well. 😉

cheers,

Meeks


“There is no skeptic at the end of a fire hose”

That line, delivered by Peter Marshall, Secretary of the United Firefighters Union [Victoria Branch] made the crowd at the Climate Change Rally roar its approval, and I yelled right along with them.

Marshall went on to say that in decades past, firefighters would have to deal with just one major fire event every ten years or so. Since 2002 however, there have been NINE major events. They all know that things have changed. They all know that their jobs have become much harder, despite new technology. And they all know that things are going to get even worse if something isn’t done about climate change.

Interestingly, David Packham, an expert on fire behaviour, doesn’t believe the incidence of more frequent, hotter bushfires is because of climate change. He believes it is down to nothing but fuel loads.

Now I have great respect for David Packham, and as a layperson, I agree that fuel loads play a critical role in bushfires, but fuel loads can’t explain the frequency of other, catastrophic natural events around the world. And I do think climate has more than a little to do with the dangers we now face every summer – because I’m old enough to remember the weather patterns we used to have. Maybe some of you will remember as well.

As a child of six I have a very vivid memory of the day the everlasting heat finally broke with a massive thunderstorm. I remember because I, along with my parents, and most of the people on our street, rushed out to dance in the rain. That was in 1959.

Then again at about 16 or 17, I remember lying in bed under the open window, praying for a breath of cool air so I could get some sleep before my exam the following morning. I didn’t get my wish.

The thing to note here is that back then, neither we nor many other people owned fans, much less air-conditioners. Sometimes it got incredibly hot, but most of the time summer was bearable, and going down to the beach was fun.

Maybe I’ve grown soft in my old age, but I’m pretty sure I couldn’t survive without cooling of some sort these days. And I certainly worry about bushfires a whole lot more. The world I knew is changing, fast, and the future promises not relief but more of the same.

That fear for the future was echoed by a lot of other people at the rally on Sunday too.

When I realised that I was effectively a roving reporter for my blog, I gathered up my courage and started talking to people. The three ladies in the picture below were all roughly my age, and they were happy to tell me why they were at the rally.

3 ladiespic

One of the ladies talked about her fears for her grandchildren. The other two expressed similar concerns for the future, and were determined to do what they could to ensure that something was done about Climate Change. The sense of urgency was palpable, despite the pristine blue skies and glorious sunshine.

Looking around me I saw  people from every walk of life and every age bracket. If you look closely at the pictures in my previous post, you will see babies and young children, teenagers and young adults, people in their 30’s and 40’s, and lots of people like me. I even saw one placard that read Baby Boomers for Climate Action. Trust me, we Boomers were out in force, and I felt quite at home.

Sadly, a rally of 30,000 people out of a total population of  roughly 4 million is not going to make Tony Abbott lose much sleep. Even if we double that figure to factor in the people who wanted to come but couldn’t, that’s still only 60,000. Again, not enough people power to force any government to rethink its position. That is the bad news.

The good news is that we true believers got to see each other, and the seeing was uplifting. I came away from the rally feeling energized by the knowledge that I wasn’t just some mad dog barking away all by myself. Whether my efforts do any real good is moot, but perhaps the combination of lots of small efforts like mine will make a difference. While there’s life there’s hope. 🙂

And perhaps you out there will find yourselves motivated as well. As one of the speakers at the rally said, if every household in Australia invested in solar power, our reliance on dirty coal would be broken, and we’d save money as well. It’s good to dream. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


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