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Byron Shire
October 4, 2022

No letup in the struggle for climate justice

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Whatever happened to that nauseating Queensland-centric mantra: ‘beautiful one day, perfect the next’? It was bovine back in the ’90s and now it sounds utterly banal. Years of drought, fires, floods, and covid have shattered the illusion of blissful predictability. In the wake of the rains that affected communities up and down Australia’s eastern seaboard earlier this year, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’s willing to bet on the future. 

Why would you? Recent revelations that fossil fuel companies have made record profits while further polluting an already toxic biosphere, and the belated release of the State of the Environment Report 2021 only add to our sense of collective dread. Aquatic and land-based ecological systems are in a disastrous state, plant and animal species are dying at unprecedented rates, and greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise – this, despite all the begging and pleading by climate scientists and activists over many decades. We are, in short, in deep trouble with no easy way out. In fact, there may be no way out – that’s the unpalatable truth.

Time to take a stand

I don’t know about you, but I’m utterly over the obsequious grovelling to governments and tin-eared corporations. The time for pleading is over. The 43 per cent emissions target passed last week in the House of Representatives lacks the ambition needed to radically diminish Australia’s contribution to global warming. It’s too little, too late. 

Feedback dangers

We have, says climate scientist, Bill McGuire in his new book Hothouse Earth, reached the point of no return. Even if every government on the planet were to immediately phase out fossil fuel production, the feedback loops, multiplier effects and exponential rises are already well underway. 

McGuire argues that mitigation, if and when it finally bites at scale, may stave off total planetary destruction. What we must now embark upon, as a matter of the greatest urgency, he insists, is adaptation for life on an overcooked planet. 

On current trajectories, we’re heading for a 2.5–3 degree temperature rise by the end of the century, if not sooner. As a Guardian study last week demonstrated, and as attribution studies confirm, the death and destruction wrought by the climate apocalypse is happening here and now, not in the distant future. And things are set to get much worse. 

But none of this seems to rattle the purveyors of disengaged hope. For them, the ‘clean energy revolution’ and the promises of geoengineering are sufficient to quash all eschatological thinking. Magical technologies, they insist, will suck greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. 

But there’s a problem. And it’s mind-bogglingly huge; the amount of GHGs in the atmosphere is ginormous. The polluting gases are locked in for the foreseeable future. There is, as yet, no technology capable, at scale, of dealing with this concentration of gases. 

Western nations responsible

And here’s the thing: we’re adding more GHGs into the mix – care of the energy crisis caused by the war in the Ukraine and the opportunism of fossil fuel industries. Back in 2019 the US Energy Information Administration noted that the US alone spewed over five thousand million metric tons of energy-related carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It’s estimated that since the beginning of industrialisation, literally trillions of tonnes of greenhouse gases have been belched into the atmosphere. 

Despite all attempts to assuage the public, to attribute blame chiefly to overpopulation and overconsumption, it remains the case that it’s largely the wealthier western nations who bear responsibility for the apocalypse. 

The world’s greedy, reckless top one hundred corporations are responsible for around 70 per cent of GHG emissions, while just 25 companies account for 50 per cent. Instead of reining in or closing down these criminal entities, people are encouraged to partake in what George Monbiot refers to as ‘micro consumerist bollocks’, like doing away with plastic straws, carrier bags and the like. Monbiot insists that it’s only through comprehensive systems change that a new clean energy order can emerge. Climate justice demands social and racial justice. But, says McGuire, it’s simply too late to avoid disastrous impacts. The warnings haven’t been heeded or acted upon; and UN targets haven’t been met.

Don’t give up 

We are, in every sense, reaping the catastrophic consequences of racialised capitalist violence, which, over the course of three centuries has plundered, exploited, killed and maimed for the sake of profit and privilege. The profits accrued by fossil fuel companies in recent months are merely a continuation of the colonial violence to which people of colour and the poor and needy have been subjected for centuries. The difference now is that in the pursuit of profit and wealth, psychopathic corporations are now prepared to forsake themselves, the planet and everything on it. 

Bleak though all this might sound, it doesn’t mean giving up. To the contrary, as Bill McGuire argues, we need more activism if the very worst is to be avoided. But we should demand rather than plead; and disobey and disrupt as necessary to upend extractivism. And there should be no letup for the CEOs and shareholders of fossil fuel companies. 


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16 COMMENTS

  1. We’ve been “at the point of no return” for decades now. The ocean hasn’t moved, it still snows, there are still glaciers.
    There are always local disasters happening some where. There’s always some town somewhere with record high or record low temperatures on any given day.
    Mean while other 99.99% of this massive planet is have an average day.

    • Those that scream the loudest have private jets. Solar 10 year lifespan, then what into landfill? What of all the rare earth mining that needs to happen to make these so called Green products, oh that’s right they are made in China, that spews forth no end of pollution, meanwhile we emit 1% of earth’s pollution. All the old books I read on climate change had me dead by now.
      How much of earth’s climate phenomenon is natural cycles, and how much is man-made?
      I feel like we’ve gone from one fear narrative (Covid) to the next one Climate.
      Who funded the Teals? Simon Holmes a Court, yes follow the money all the way back to the WEF the buch that’s wants us to own nothing and be happy and eat bugs, and not to mention they are the elite, with jets and mansions the world over. So I’ve become more than cynical to the current agenda
      I’m all for a cleaner greener earth, I’m just not buying the doomsday book, infact I want a refund

      • Same. Your $100 + Climate change = $80.

        Seeds are cheap, plant more trees!

        System change will help more than the current narrative which is starting to smell more and more like a new tax dressed up as climate fix fairy tale.

        Plant more trees, especially in riparian zones!!

        • I own a piece of land that WAS desert. It’s been greening for 15 years now. I keep having to pay to get it cleared again before the trees take over and get declared protected. The trees are planting themselves.

          You know what else is made of CO2, Coral! More CO2 = more trees, more coral.

  2. Why are billionaires like Twiggy Forest and Andrew Cannon-Brookes wife buying up Queensland resort islands if “climate change ” a.k.a global warming is going to raise sea levels disastrously ?
    Maybe because they won’t ?
    It’s a scare scenario to make more billions out of so called “renewables” and associated government grants paid for by the bunny taxpayer who will be likely freezing in the dark next winter.
    Shutting down reliable power in Australia won’t change the climate at all.

  3. You poor stupid fools !
    I understand it is next to impossible, for those who have devoted their lives to a concept, that resources are exhaustible, the ‘Lord ‘ shall provide and all our endeavours ( though superficially they may be seen as positive , as increasing prosperity and preserving the ever burgeoning population ) are about to exterminate our species and it is now too late for them to understand or prevent.
    This is not as dire as it seems, the real concern is that we will also sterilise the planet and render it undistinguishable from all the other lifeless universes that we are aware of. Life , is an extremely rare and fleeting phenomenon and it seems we have failed the inevitable challenge facing any intelligent race of beings. Do they preserve their sustaining ecosystem or do they consume everything then die ?
    The last and very fragile hope, is that some vestige of life may survive our excesses and survive and in turn succeed in solving the Malthusian dilemma.
    ( spoiler alert ) it won’t be “Twiggy Forest and Andrew Cannon-Brookes wife”.
    Cheers, G”)

    • Life did just fine on this planet when there was 100 times the CO2.
      It’s too cold at the equator for Sauropods to be able to survive today. I can’t quote the temperature range the biologist say it would have been because the moderator censors me when I try. Let’s just say the land at the South Pole was covered with green forest.
      99.999% of all species were extinct by the time human came into existence. All species you know of will go extinct. You lot will go extinct.
      On the other hand, my children are going to the stars that God has provided them with.

      • If you travel into central Australia you will see ample evidence that vast sandy tracts were once under water. We KNOW, the world was much hotter eons ago. We KNOW the ice age and formation of the ice caps shrank the seas and the world was cooler.

        We KNOW, there have been mass extinctions from major climate changing events. Evolution is not revolution however, and for it to work so that species can generally adapt, change needs to occur at a certain pace. If the change is accelerated beyond generational adaptability things get unpleasant for the unsuited.

        I know that in the great scheme of things, if we fry this planet and bring about the destruction of the human race et al through starvation and heat exposure – because we accelerate change beyond the capacity of the plants and animals we rely on – it’s not of great consequence to the universe. Who knows the cockroaches may even survive!

        We can adopt this attitude and live for today or we can weigh up whether we think preserving a liveable planet for a bit longer is worth the effort it might take for some amelioration. We can think about our kids and grandkids. Personally I’d rather die in a meteor strike than through starvation and the destruction of civilisation.

        • Humans survive where the temperatures fluctuate from -280’c to +320’c every 90 mins. And I’m not referring to Ayer’s Rock or Woomera, the temperature swings there simply point out what we can handle. It was freezing when I started climbing and boiling when I got back down.

          The Earth can not become Venus. The balance of elements in the two planets are completely different. Besides, Venus is way shinier than the Earth (Albedo) so the heat isn’t coming from sunlight. Venus has a lot of volcanoes and is very radioactive. Did the nuns cover radioactive decay in planetary cores? Did they tell you where all the helium for those balloons comes from?

          • Now who’s being a nasty pasty again?

            In truth, I don’t recall the nuns giving lessons on radioactive decay in planetary cores but, if the “c” in your temperature ranges refers to centigrade or Celsius I suspect they know a bit more about biology that your teachers!

            What the nuns did to though – inadvertently I’m sure – was develop my inbuilt crap detector!

    • Oh Ken please accept our apologies we are all
      In such denial.. 50 years and counting on environmental predictions..how did it come
      This !!

      • Did you take my last response on board? Indeed you should apologise – I hope it’s sincere. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but those predictions are looking eerily accurate.

        Try looking at some climate data rather than Sky after dark?

  4. I guess we’d best look on the bright side.
    Once China lets loose nothing else is
    going to matter. Maybe the ‘bell, book, &
    candle’ is nigh. . , hey Ken.

    • They need Australia’s resources and farm land. They are not going to wreck the real estate they just purchased.
      They don’t need LGBTQP/Eco-nut/Lefties though. Just saying.

      • Who will they need? None of us I’d suggest. Maybe some LGBTQI/Eco-nut/Lefty farmers ag scientists and geologists? 🌈 👩🏻‍🌾 🧑🏻‍🔬♻️ ❣️

  5. Often not saying much lets a lot out of the bag.
    Send-ups can get somewhat nasty when there
    is no need. Forget kicking the boot in & such…

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