My place. Monday, 5pm.
Every six months, I check my battery. No, I don’t have a pacemaker, and I’m not talking about phone or car battery. I’m checking my house battery. Yes, folks, my house runs on a battery. Under my shack (under the cliffs) there’s a big wooden box. In that box is the battery. It is the shack’s heart. I tend it tenderly.
Checking the water level in the battery cells – three cells need a top-up – I pour demineralised water into them, screw the lids back on, close the box, and that’s done for another six months. Whew. Hard work. I’m thirsty now.
The battery is charged by the solar panels on the roof. My shack has been running on solar for 30 years. I used to make my own house lights from car light bulbs and vegemite jars. I even had an entrance light with a high-beam option. (To blind the unwelcome.) Solar is much easier now. Panels are way cheaper, the technology is much more advanced and appliances are more efficient.
Australian roofs are increasingly solar panelled. People love solar power. But not the government. The Australian government is now fighting against business to maintain a polluting and life-threatening power industry. Energy provider AGL wants out from coal. It’s planning to close the ageing Liddell coal-fired power station in a few years. But the government is furious, doing its fake moral outrage face, and attacking the company for betraying the Australian people. Ha!
That’s funny. The government and business have long been lovers, kissing in secret places and exchanging gifts:
‘Here have this bank. Or this telecom. Or this electricity market.’
‘Thanks. Take this…’
But now there’s a lovers’ tiff, because one of them has seen the writing on the wall.
AGL recognises that coal is history, but the government, flushed with heartbreak and frustrated by impotence, is stamping its feet and chucking a tantrum.
‘Stay, please stay,’ it pleads. Then, when AGL shakes its head, ‘If you don’t stay, I’ll hit you!’ It’s domestic violence on the national stage.
My check-up done, and with the sunset fast approaching, I go upstairs and put Steely Dan on the turntable. Track nine. From the fridge I grab a bottle of Ginger Necktar as Change of the Guard kicks in. I raise my glass to the late Walter Becker – and the solar option that allows his music to fill my shack (and my drink to chill).
The age of fossil fuels is ending. The sooner the better. But the government, as blind as drunks, is hassling AGL to keep the Liddell coal power station open, to dump even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and delaying even longer the introduction of renewable energy, because maintaining the lethal status quo is much easier than actually doing something. It’s a constipated government, making all sorts of strange noises but unable to pass anything. It cannot even accept that its main squeeze, business, is packing its bag.
The government is a fossil itself. Born in privilege, addicted to entitlement, fat on natural resources and short-sighted from inbreeding, it lost contact with reality long ago. Despite the jingoistic nationalism it spews with regular vulgarity, it is blatantly unpatriotic and is an enemy of the Australian people, cynically condemning them to the uncertain times that scientific certainty tells us are coming if it continues its unsustainable ways.
Like fossil fuels, this fossil government’s time is ending – the sooner the better. Its legacy will be toxic, for sure, but its days are numbered.
Thanks for the music, Walter. (Love the guitar solo, Skunk.)
If you live in this world,
You’re feelin’ the change of the guard.