Sunday, 30 September 2007

Last few weeks

I am now havong a big holiday and the weather has stayed terribly dry - so much so that even the ultraconservative Bureau of Meteorology admits forecasts based on historical records are of no use at all. Yet, it is utterly gagged still from the pro-active role that our scientific bodies should have been taking for years - towards destroying the road lobby and making sure every cent of government transport funding is to public transport.

To try to calm myself amidst a climate that will soon be as dry as Lake Eyre has historically been, I have spend recent weeks reading at the opposite end of the political spectrum: the P.I.G.s, or Politically Incorrect Guides.

I actually frequently accost people about whether they know what "P.I.G." stands for. Because Australia is too traditional to have the "Sixties" politics that runs Europe, Blue America and Canada, P.I.G.s are quite unnecessary here and nobody ever guesses the answer or has read any of the book. I know, though, that P.I.G.s would be adored by most of Australia's politicians and especially by the mining bosses who keep transport policy on the shortest of leashes towards the most wasteful form - road building, which should have been outlawed constitutionally as soon as the threat of global warming became known in 1981.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Finding Professor Cullen

My deep concern for Australia's environment and motivation to understand why Australia has a meek and socially ultraconservative population even amidst runaway, even catastrophic climate change has led me to realise that it is due to Australia having (almost) the lowest costs of living in the world.

My experience in environmental science suffices to show this quite untenable. Countries which are ecologically the cheapest to live in - the Netherlands and Scandinavia - actually have the highest costs of living.

Now that I understand the reasons for this unacceptable situation - land costs and mineral resources or lack thereof due to glaciation - I realise what is needed to change it. This is why I am drawn to the idea of paying farmers to move off the land.

It was a move suggested by Professor Cullen last year, but with rainfall lower than ever it is time (well it was time in the 1980s in southwestern Australia) to realise that Australia is in a terrible predicament. If we do nothing Australia's low land costs and flat terrain will encourage farming on land becoming more and more marginal. Most likely, it will lead to farming via by desalination or pipelines from the north as the winter rainfall zone disappears (which George Monbiot said would happen at 450ppmv carbon dioxide).

The solution, clearly, is more than merely paying farmers to move off the land. It is to abandon - at the very least - all farming of low value crops in Australia and to allow native vegetation designed for Australia's poor soils and vulnerable climate to re-establish. We should ideally see a complete end to agriculture in Australia - as Australia produce 4% of the world's food this is hardly a catastrophe for food security. Replacing it would be limited hunting (mainly of pests) and returning farmland to Aborigines who have shown themselves able to manage it much more sustainably.

I really would like to meets Peter Cullen - or at least set up communication with him by mail or e-mail about this issue - because I suspect he does not go far enough about the ecological and even social benefits that would be brought about from having native vegetation re-established on Australia's farmland.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

The recent week at RMIT

There was a little rain, but I realise I cannot keep looking at the forecasts even though I know where Melbourne's climate is headed given Australia's meek and passive population that won't fight the corporate polluters - and there's no way change can be achieved any other way.

I have tried to work as hard as possible but it is grateful to realise how sympathetic people at RMIT are to my problems with concentration. I'm thinking I should say to them that, quite strictly, I work best when I can do one task at a time and focus as much as possible on it. It is hard for me when I have had two assignments to do so quickly - even though I know it's unfair to other that I am allowed more time.

My parents and others seem to have mixed emotions about my recently handed-in essay. At first they were pleased, but tonight I was told that I had overlooked (by accident, contrary to what my mum says) a message about class distinctions being involved in the dress of 1960s Australian children's novels I have been reading.

My work has also been affected by a fire outside my home - I know if we had proper rainfall this would never have happened - on Wednesday night. My recycling bin blew up and I was told I should ask the council for one.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Record rainless spell coming

Over the last twelve days of August, Melbourne has had no rain - and none is forecast this week. It is likely, despite the 28 Day Rainfall Oulooks saying otherwise, that Melbourne will break its record 40 day rainless spell - which would mean no rain by 29 September.

With the city headed for its driest year on record after ten straight years with rainfall below the 1885 to 1996 average, I am awfully angered that people do not realise we are already in runaway climate change mode and that within a few years rainless spells of months will be the rule in Melbourne.

As I imagine it, once the winter westerlies disappear for good - which models suggest they will very, very soon, Melbourne will be the driest place in all of Australia with a rainfall of around 10% averages from 1885 to 1996.

It is this, together with Australia's unacceptable greenhouse emissions record - it should be decades ahead of any country in Europe and internationally required to achieve zero emissions long before now - that has made me prone to violent temper outbursts which my mother calls “ranting”. By ranting she means loud, fast, angry speech - which I had used long before climate change set in over Australia.

I know very well ranting is unpersuasive, but it is difficult to dissociate the radical changes in the attitude of Australia's meek, merciful population to start a plan to radically reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions from my own behaviour.

I actually feel that being more angry and less happy would help Australians greatly because they would be more able to see what power they have through collective action to challenge those responsible for Australia's exceptionally high greenhouse emissions - from measures to combat climate change to radically changing laws to fit the fragility of our environment - this would mean all those who had contributed to any carbon dioxide emissions would be prosecuted - I often imagine the car company executives working on destroying the (in my opinion) wasteful freeways their power has created.