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Commitment

Jeff Canin Comment:  The last paragraph in this article says it all: don’t hold your breath for effective action on climate change. Its not that our governments are filled with morons who just don’t understand the science. Okay, there is a certain percentage in there. But not all. They just don’t want to make it a priority. Long term thinking is not the name of the game. They won’t be in office then, so why bother, let the next lot of mugs deal with the problems we are causing. And who wants to annoy the Murdoch media empire or the mining or fossil fuel industries?

If we want them to change this short sighted behaviour, we have to somehow get them to realise that there are short term consequences for failing to take long term action. As in, vote them out. All Parties need to realise that this is a priority for us, and we will only vote for a Party that is genuinely concerned about climate change and has a program of action.
So it is vital that we communicate with all political parties and let them know this. Let them know that the price of inaction is years in the political wilderness. Only then will they take it seriously and do something.

The Conversation
11 December 2013, 6.42am AEST

Government doesn’t need climate bodies: it needs commitment
AUTHOR
Neville Nicholls
Professor at Monash University

In closing the Climate Commission, and introducing legislation to abolish the Climate Change Authority, the government has said it can instead rely on information from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO. Is that claim reasonable?
The Climate Commission
The Climate Commission was established to provide information about climate change to the public. The most obvious impact of its closure will be on local governments and businesses.
The Commission has been providing such bodies with the information they need to determine how best to adapt to the future climate. Most local governments do not have the resources they need to identify how climate change should affect decisions, such as deciding whether sea walls are an appropriate reaction to rising sea levels and changes in storminess. In the absence of the Commission such bodies will need to employ consultants, at considerable expense, to provide such advice.
Read more →

Still Time to Change

Jeff Canin Comment:  Is it all too late to do anything about climate change? This is such a commonly asked question. If it is, why spend our time and energy worrying, changing our lifestyles, instead of partying (on the Titanic), and seeing if we can get a little closer to the lifeboats, just in case.

Here is a very interesting take on this question. I would argue that while the answer is still uncertain, we have a moral responsibility to do whatever we can to reduce our own personal carbon emissions, and encourage our family, friends, corporations and governments to do the same. As Clive Hamilton says in 2 Degrees, “its that old classic cliché: what did you do in the war daddy, and I hope I can say, I did my best”.

The Conversation
11 December 2013, 6.42am AEST

Still time to change Earth’s long-term forecast
AUTHOR
Jørgen Randers
Professor of Climate Strategy at BI Norwegian Business School

After a lifetime promoting sustainability – sadly, with limited success – last year I sat down to consider what will happen to my beloved world over the next 40 years. The main question I asked myself was whether I should continue worrying about the future during my final 20 to 25 years here on Earth.
My answer is in 2052 – A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years. The main message is simple: I predict that the world average temperature will surpass 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial times – the internationally agreed danger threshold – in 2052. And the temperature will continue rising, condemning our grandchildren to the likelihood of climate disaster in the second half of the 21st century.
This means that the global future will resemble one of the 12 scenarios from The Limits to Growth, which I co-authored in 1972. The world will resemble the “persistent pollution scenario”, with carbon dioxide as the “persistent” pollutant which, once emitted, resides in the atmosphere with a half-life of 100 years. (For more on the original Limits to Growth forecasts and how they fared compared to reality, you can read this CSIRO discussion paper or this article in The Conversation.)
I do not forecast an energy crisis, a resource crisis, a food crisis, a water crisis – but neither do I expect to see one of the more optimistic “sustainability” scenarios from Limits. I believe that man-made greenhouse gas emissions will prove to be the real problem. Read more →

Why Politics Fail

AUTHOR
Jeff Canin

I’m going to use this space to introduce you to my favourite bloggers and commentators. One of the most prolific, thought provoking and insightful is the UK journalist George Monbiot. His recent article was a brilliant summary of how corporate power is is having such a devastating impact in the UK. As always, I think Australia is not far behind. In fact, we may even be ahead, given how quickly politicians in Australia watered down and now are dumping the Mining Tax. Read George’s article below:

Why Politics Fails

Posted: 11 Nov 2013 12:19 PM PST

Nothing will change until we confront the real sources of power.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 12th November 2013

It’s the reason for the collapse of democratic choice. It’s the source of our growing disillusionment with politics. It’s the great unmentionable. Corporate power. The media will scarcely whisper its name. It is howlingly absent from parliamentary debates. Until we name it and confront it, politics is a waste of time.

The political role of corporations is generally interpreted as that of lobbyists, seeking to influence government policy. In reality they belong on the inside. They are part of the nexus of power that creates policy. They face no significant resistance, from either government or opposition, as their interests have now been woven into the fabric of all three main parties.

Most of the scandals that leave people in despair about politics arise from this source. On Monday, for example, the Guardian revealed that the government’s subsidy system for gas-burning power stations is being designed by an executive from the company ESB, who has been seconded into the energy department(1). What does ESB do? Oh, it builds gas-burning power stations.

On the same day we learnt that a government minister, Nick Boles, has privately assured the gambling company Ladbrokes that it needn’t worry about attempts by local authorities to stop the spread of betting shops(2). His new law will prevent councils from taking action.

Last week we discovered that G4S’s contract to run immigration removal centres will be expanded, even though all further business with the state was supposed to be frozen while allegations of fraud are investigated(3). Every week we learn that systemic failures on the part of government contractors are no barrier to obtaining further work, that the promise of efficiency, improvements and value for money delivered by outsourcing and privatisation have failed to materialise(4,5,6). The monitoring which was meant to keep these companies honest is haphazard(7), the penalties almost non-existent(8), the rewards stupendous, dizzying, corrupting(9,10). Yet none of this deters the government. Since 2008, the outsourcing of public services has doubled, to £20bn. It is due to rise to £100bn by 2015(11).
This policy becomes explicable only when you recognise where power really lies. The role of the self-hating state is to deliver itself to big business. In doing so it creates a tollbooth economy: a system of corporate turnpikes, operated by companies with effective monopolies.

It’s hardly surprising that the lobbying bill – now stalled by the Lords – offered almost no checks on the power of corporate lobbyists, while hogtying the charities who criticise them. But it’s not just that ministers are not discouraged from hobnobbing with corporate executives: they are now obliged to do so.

Thanks to an initiative by Lord Green, large companies have ministerial “buddies”, who have to meet them when the companies request it. There were 698 of these meetings during the first 18 months of the scheme, called by corporations these ministers are supposed be regulating(12). Lord Green, by the way, is currently a government trade minister. Before that he was chairman of HSBC, presiding over the bank while it laundered vast amounts of money stashed by Mexican drugs barons(13). Ministers, lobbyists – can you tell them apart?

That the words corporate power seldom feature in the corporate press is not altogether surprising. It’s more disturbing to see those parts of the media that are not owned by Rupert Murdoch or Lord Rothermere acting as if they are.

For example, for five days every week the BBC’s Today programme starts with a  business report in which only insiders are interviewed. They are treated with a deference otherwise reserved for God on Thought for the Day. There’s even a slot called Friday Boss, in which the programme’s usual rules of engagement are set aside and its reporters grovel before the corporate idol. Imagine the outcry if Today had a segment called Friday Trade Unionist or Friday Corporate Critic.

This, in my view, is a much graver breach of BBC guidelines than giving unchallenged airtime to one political party but not others, as the bosses are the people who possess real power: those, in other words, whom the BBC has the greatest duty to accost. Research conducted by the Cardiff school of journalism shows that business representatives now receive 11% of airtime on the BBC’s 6 o’clock news (this has risen from 7% in 2007), while trade unionists receive 0.6% (which has fallen from 1.4%)(14). Balance? Impartiality? The BBC puts a match to its principles every day.

And where, beyond the Green Party, Plaid Cymru, a few ageing Labour backbenchers, is the political resistance? After the article I wrote last week, about the grave threat the transatlantic trade and investment partnership presents to parliamentary sovereignty and democratic choice(15), several correspondents asked me what response there has been from the Labour party. It’s easy to answer: nothing.

Blair and Brown purged the party of any residue of opposition to corporations and the people who run them. That’s what New Labour was all about. Now opposition MPs stare mutely as their powers are given away to a system of offshore arbitration panels run by corporate lawyers.

Since Blair’s pogroms, parliament operates much as Congress in the United States does: the lefthand glove puppet argues with the righthand glove puppet, but neither side will turn around to face the corporate capital that controls almost all our politics. This is why the assertion that parliamentary democracy has been reduced to a self-important farce has resonated so widely over the past fortnight.

So I don’t blame people for giving up on politics. I haven’t given up yet, but I find it ever harder to explain why. When a state-corporate nexus of power has bypassed democracy and made a mockery of the voting process, when an unreformed political funding system ensures that parties can be bought and sold, when politicians of the three main parties stand and watch as public services are divvied up by a grubby cabal of privateers, what is left of this system that inspires us to participate?

www.monbiot.com

References:

1. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/10/gas-industry-employee-energy-policy

2. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/nov/10/planning-law-changes-help-bookmakers-minister

3. http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/nov/08/g4s-expand-contract-freeze-government-work

4. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/05/privatisation-public-service-users-bill

5. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9742685/Total-chaos-after-pet-dog-counted-on-translators-database.html

6. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/jul/22/disabled-benefits-claimants-test-atos

7. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/nov/07/government-outsourcing-problems-g4s-serco-a4e

8. http://www.theguardian.com/public-leaders-network/2013/jul/17/ifg-government-outsourcing-privatisation-skills

9. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jan/09/financial-transparency-privatised-nhs

10. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/04/rail-privatisation-train-operators-profit

11. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/feb/07/public-sector-outsourcing-shadow-state

12. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/jan/18/buddy-scheme-multinationals-access-ministers

13. http://www.theguardian.com/business/2012/jul/24/lord-green-hsbc-scandal

14. http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/our_work/breadth_opinion/content_analysis.pdf

15. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/04/us-trade-deal-full-frontal-assault-on-democracy

George Monbiot

Hello world. This my website!

Hello world. This my website!