It could be forests again. Earth Day is coming on April 22nd 2021. It could be forests beneath the sea – the role of sea kelp. It could be the future. In democracies, voters hold the power. How we decide affects how we proceed. I hate the phrase ‘push their buttons’. We sound like automata, not thinking human beings able to take in the consequences of our decisions. Are we going to go on as we have? More are feeling the reality of climate change through extreme events they never expected to face.
When did Rachel Carson write The Silent Spring? John Chafee made climate change clear to the United States Senate in 1986. Schools have taught about the ‘green-house effect’ in our public schools across Australia since the 1980s. Often through the humanities! The science of ecology has become more and more important from the 1960s on.
Germany, a democracy, led the way thirty years ago to decrease then end the use of coal. Government, business, workers came together. They cooperated so no one was left behind. There was government investment in the process of change. Workers were able to get jobs in nearby developing chemical industries. This trinity is needed for us all.
In the English-speaking developed world today which are the three nations that have been the worst in their development of government policies, plans and investment to face the facts of change, according to Reese Halter? USA by far is the worst. Australia is not far behind. Then, there is the UK, although they have moved towards clean energy faster than USA or Australia. See Reece Halter’s analysis for ‘Earth Day’. [Below here] And, my blog ‘Complexity and Stability’ – June 15th 2020 – and the work of the Australian physicist and ecologist, Robert May, Baron May of Oxford, the UK’s Chief Scientist from 1995 – 2000.
‘From Sydney to Princeton, to the job of the UK’s Chief Scientist. Lord Bob May of Oxford brought physics into biology, moved from there into ecology with the knowledge of mathematics that helped to prove the essential connection between stability and complexity. He helped the UK to accept climate change and make the move towards clean energy. He showed the problem of relying on economists, too often tied to ideology.’
The Australian Broadcast Corporation’s Radio National’s the Science Show with Robyn Williams, who has presented it since 1975, tackled so much. On Saturday April 17th 2021, the program first went to Mars with Dr David Flannery. Next, Robyn Williams introduced The Climate Cure, by Tim Flannery, showing how sea kelp, ‘forests’ deep in oceans, could be the carbon sinks the planet needs to take carbon from the atmosphere.
Tim Flannery of the Climate Change Council has not given up. He gave us warning with The Future Eaters in 1994. In 2005 he wrote The Weather Makers. For a little time, between 2007 and 2012, Australia began to decrease its carbon footprint. In 2011 the Climate Change Commission was set up as a statutory independent body to talk to all Australians so that the science was made accessible. How can voters use their precious votes thoughtfully if they don’t have access to the knowledge needed to inform their decisions? The Commission was bringing us all together: experts were communicating clearly, sharing the evidence with us all.
In 2013, when the first of these three national Federal Coalition governments came in, the Australian Climate Commission was abolished by the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, who insisted ‘Climate change is crap’ All the work being done to connect with the public was reversed. And it was made worse in 2015. A review of our national curriculum for our schools by reviewers chosen by the Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, decreased interdisciplinary connections, identified as vital by the Deans of the Schools of Education in 2000. ACARA now formalised that destructive separation of STEM versus HASS. A Seaweed Festival connecting science and the arts is below. See it.
We knew, and know, that history comes into everything. Look at this terrible history of climate change responses in Australia because too few of us have cared enough to make our governments act for the future. Let’s never forget, in all of this, the role of ‘The Carbon Club’, a joint Australian/USA combination of mining corporations and the Institute of Public Affairs denying climate change. Fortunately, enough Australians were not prepared to lose all the expertise the Commission had provided for the public. So, a truly independent council was established.
The Climate Council was founded in 2013 by tens of thousands of Australians to create a new, independent and community-funded organisation in response to the abolition of the Australian Climate Commission. More info? See our FAQs
President Biden is now caring about climate change in USA. But the market-driven Federal Coalition Australian government has, in its place, a Climate Change Authority. What matters is the choice made by Australia’s Prime Minister to lead it. He has chosen, as Chair, a man with a background in oil and gas! It is a bit like President Trump handing power to a Secretary of the American Environmental Protection Agency who had no commitment to America’s great public National Parks or the sacred lands of the Native Americans. Australia’s latest Coalition Prime Minister is insisting on a gas-led ‘recovery’ that will suit the fossil fuel mining industries like Santos and Woodside. At the same time the Indian magnate, Mr Adani, is being enabled to go ahead with the Carmichael coal mine. This Prime Minister says zero emissions by 2050 is his ‘preferred’ position. But is he now unlocking gas in South Australia, offering us $2 billion to do it?
Tim Flannery offers us an avenue for capturing carbon.
with Robyn Williams
Tim Flannery describes the promise of seaweed as a scalable option for drawing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Seaweed can be used for food, for fertiliser and may even save us from climate change.
But from this hope for the future we need to face this global estimation from Reece Halter.
Robyn Williams has not ignored the question of the future for workers in coal. This statement by a union leader gives worrying information for us ‘down under’. Most corporations are based in the northern hemisphere. ‘Capital’ can move quickly from place to place after we have been squeezed dry. That is clearly evident already. So many corporations set out to avoid or evade their responsibilities to pay their dues to us.
As working environments change, trade unions help their membership work through changes to their industries. Knowing what’s coming and what’s inevitable is helpful. Ross Garnaut has suggestions for regional industries in his book ‘Super Power’, what Australia is capable of doing.
Today’s program has ranged widely. The Science Show has made many of the connections we need as voters. Our decisions make the difference, for good or ill, for the future for children being born across the world today.
A slowdown in the Earth’s heating has not even started! Is there hope? Journalist, Jo Chandler, reads from her essay in The Griffith Review. Jo Chandler’s decision about how to retain hope in the face of all the frightening signs of media manipulation matters very much for our citizens. Rupert Murdoch owns or controls almost 90% of Australia’s commercial media. Does he intend to ‘stream’ his Fox News ‘down under’? We face so many powerful corporations using tactics to defer action about global warming until they have made all they can from fossil fuels.
We need investigative journalists with the courage of Jo Chandler.
We cannot afford to give up hope for the children’s sake.