When we met, in 1971, Mungo MacCallum was already piercing the egos of Canberra pollies, and I was putting out a paper called The Digger, which championed the many movements seeking to replace cultures that had passed their use-by dates.
Fast forward to last year, Mungo was still hammering the LibNats for being arrogant rorters and fossil fools – and most of the alternative culture had essentially won their arguments: yes the environments, from global atmosphere to gut bacteria, are being trashed by dickheads for dollars, and yes, white guys armed with inherited power have treated the rest of us like shit, and no, the sky is not falling but it is overheating and the ice is melting and we’ve probably only got a few decades to turn our Titanic 180 degrees.
The counterculture has won the arguments, but moving on to implementation is still blocked by blockheads and big money.
And then there was 2020, the year of the COVIDS. They changed everything because they killed a lot of people quickly, everywhere on Earth, and because they revealed that the faster all our environments change, the more viruses mutate.
So we wonder how to stop all those lines on graphs from making 90 degree turns to pointing up, toward many versions of disaster…
At this moment in the story of our species, it’s insane that we are still forced to deal with trivia like PM Morrison
At this moment in the story of our species, it’s insane that we are still forced to deal with trivia like PM Morrison – an average-to-dim bloke caught up in a self-satisfying religion and a gang of macho political comrades who think saving ourselves from eco-catastrophy is giving in to ‘snowflakes’.
A very large number of very smart people have already figured out thousands of ways we, as a species, could reorganise life – social, economic, political, environmental, spiritual, and everything else. We could, for example, slash our airborne excrements by even more than the drastic cuts forced upon us last year by the tiny virus.
We should reconsider everything from BC (Before COVID) before we turn emissions back on. Like, say, flooding the world’s food markets with crap that feeds obesity, or assuming that universal car ownership is a good thing.
So, let’s consider some GOOD NEWS:
This Shire of Byron has 40,000 inhabitants, an excellent climate (except it’s getting wilder like everywhere is), great soil and water for growing food, despite the endless efforts some of us make to ruin them, good enough infrastructure and education, and lots of smart and imaginative people of all flavours.
The Echo is owned by two local families and a few other locals, so it could be way more adventurous, and given our species is on the brink of collapse, it should go for it
We also have a weekly newspaper that is among the handful in Australia not owned by creepy Murdochs, nor by backward-facing Peter Costello and his Channel 9 gang, and not yet undermined like the ABC has been by Morrison&Co because it allows new Australians on the screen. The Echo is owned by two local families and a few other locals, so it could be way more adventurous, and given our species is on the brink of collapse, it should go for it.
We also have a Council and some parliamentarians who are willing to stand up to the fossils etc, and now we have Mandy Nolan announcing that she’s sick of all the emperors wanking while the world burns, so she’s standing for Greens preselection to run for the federal seat of Richmond, now held by Justine Elliot of the Labouring-under-weak-convictions Party.
How about we gather all our Shire’s assets and turn this place into the Save Our Species Shire – do a test-run, be the first in the world. Begin building a fully sustainable community with below-zero greenhouse gas emissions, zero waste in rivers, soils, air, and sea, and zero imported things unless they come with a hard guarantee that their purveyors will collect and sustainably dispose of them when their useful life is over, which is a principle we should apply to all our local products and activities.
It could be a mission to become a living example of a community in which the sum of our impact on the planet and all its ecosystems is positive
And this shouldn’t be a show-pony thing – come and see our lovely but expensive windmills etc – it could be a mission to become a living example of a community in which the sum of our impact on the planet and all its ecosystems is positive – meaning we will clean up, remediate, and redesign everything in our Shire until our plan goes global and all those graph lines trend downward. We can reassess when the tonnage of plastic in the oceans is decreasing, greenhouse gasses are returning to earth, forestation is outpacing deforestation, food is safe to eat and isn’t dumped when it has a blemish, when sanity is overtaking delusion…
Why should we do all that?
Because we have to, if we are to survive. And because we could do it.
We were already over-qualified to lead the world in a comprehensive reboot of our way of life, and now we’re among the very few people who aren’t overwhelmed by the virus.
So – we are capable, and we have the tools and the plans and capacity to dream… don’t we?
Will the Byron Shire Echo become the paper of the Species Survival Echo? Mungo would have loved reporting on a parliament of Mandies.
Let’s give it a go! If not now, when?
If not us, who?
Phillip Frazer will contribute periodically in this space, to be known affectionately as Mungo’s page.
In 2010, Phillip returned to Australia after living in New York for 34 years. He began his publishing career by establishing Australia’s first rock ’n roll paper, GoSet.
In the US, he worked as an editor on political and ecological magazines, including his environmental newsletter News on Earth.
From 1999 to 2013, he published a progressive populist newsletter with Texas author and activist Jim Hightower.
Phillip’s website is www.coorabellridge.com.