Friday, 5 December 2014

Egalitarianism versus global warming inaction

I have been of recent weeks investigating whether Australia’s dreadful record on greenhouse gas emissions may be related to absence of egalitarianism inherent in its unpredictable and low-productivity environments. I do not believe Australia’s dreadful per-capita emissions should ever be explained away in terms of distances. After all Australia’s extremely flat terrain is perfectly suited to high-speed rail transport that could eliminate most direct and indirect emissions from cars and airline, yet Australia lags fifty to seventy years behind most of the Enriched World in developing fast rail!

The notion that Australia’s extremely low secondary productivity and variable runoff – or superabundant flat land in a hot climate – compared to the young Enriched World inherently produces different cultures from the same initial settling population is one I have come to accept as potentially very true. This month, the CSIRO’s Jennifer Price and Zoe Leviston have provided a study that does show:
  1. the conflict between egalitarianism and global warming inaction
  2. how the extreme isolation of outer suburbs from a global culture contributes to greenhouse scepticism being entirely mainstream there
Titled ‘My country or my planet? Exploring the influence of multiple place attachments and ideological beliefs upon climate change attitudes and opinions’, Price’s and Lewiston’s article shows how a strong “nationalist” perspective and acceptance of hierarchies as mandated by traditional Christianity – especially Catholicism and Orthodoxy – among residents of “remote” suburbs contributes to denial of global warming.

The study pitifully failed to separate inhabitants of fringe suburbs, who because they are less dependent upon natural bounty for their livelihood are probably even more likely to be greenhouse-sceptic than rural people, from residents of inner cities. This would be particularly useful in the table asking “What do you think would be the economic impact on Australia of making significant reductioons in greenhouse gas emissions, as part of global action involving all major countries?” (though as Jan-Erik Lane shows, this action really should be confined to energy-producing Indian Rim nations), where it would certainly reveal whether climate-dependent rural communities really do understand man-made global warming or confirm to John Snarey’s prediction that highly variable hydrology is the prime producer of strong religious faith and potential belief that God will always provide rain regardless of how much greenhouse gases we emit.

The results do confirm stereotyped viewpoints that atheist and globally-oriented people are most concerned about global warming. This, of course, reflects the extremely developed sectors they participate in, which my previous posts emphasise as unable to build a stable civilisation, because economic change is too rapid to raise children and political demands too extreme.

Australia’s uniqueness compared to nations of the Enriched World – who share essentially the same soils, flora and fauna – undoubtedly should encourage nationalism, even if not warlike as in the fascism. Radical internationalism is unlikely to cover the core population of a nation specialising in primary production and which possesses large and mostly undiscovered quantities of resources glaciated or “collided” (plate tectonic activity) out of existence elsewhere.

The problems noted in Two Nations when Pauline Hanson emerged almost two decades ago have not diminished, and cannot whilst the suburbs and rural areas remain culturally and economically isolated from the rest of the world without being in any way self-sufficient (after all, low-input agriculture in Australia has been a known impossibility since the Austronesians saw our north coast). They will always seek to work with people of similar interests, and Price and Leviston have only confirmed what we know.

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