The recent poll that 80 percent of Australians believe Rudd should make petrol even cheaper than it is shows how obsessed so many young Australians are with stabilising their families and preventing the emotional despair that would result if from not longer affording to keep it up through less cheap petrol trickling to other commodities.
I must state here that stabilising families is by no means a bad goal: indeed I do despair at the difficulties of family formation outside Australia. However, with Australia’s unique ecology, the threat of environmental destruction is already so great and the power of groups opposed to what might cause real improvement in our appalling environmental record so great that one can only call it negligent, lazy and soft for Australians to think as they do. They should instead consider the certainty unless the car is completely abolished and a first-rate rail network take over every single motorised journey across the continent, we will have an arid zone covering the whole winter cropping belt and even Tasmania within a quite short span of time.
My recent sad experiences with the law over assault are undoubtedly emotional despair, yet I know that Australian families will experience even more emotional despair from dry dams and huge polluting desalination plans or higher electricity prices from greater competition for supply.
As Richard Glover and Ross Gittins are pointing out so easily, people in almost every other country are certainly tougher and more willing to see beyond pure sentiment than Australians. It is almost like Australia – really the “unlucky country” likes to see itself as “lucky” because its monopoly on the globe's inorganic resources gives its settlers an immediate high standard of living without them having to fight for it as people in Europe did with their wars for socialism.
What people in the academic and environmental communties have to do is to educate in a highly personal manner how Australia is a remarkably fragile environment and that low petrol prices are simply unacceptable if we want to mitigate catastrophic climate changes that have already began to affect us. This will hurt the communities our politicians depend on so much for support, but there is no other way.