|A view from the Andes of Santiago’s pollution – ultimately caused by greenhouse emissions on the other side of the Pacific|
|A typical recent synoptic chart for South America. Note the low pressure over West Antarctica – the exact opposite of conditions needed for rainfall in Central Chile – and the poleward movement of the former Altiplano High into Patagonia.|
Given that the pollution and lack of rainfall are certainly due to man-made global warming, now that they are at least capturing some attention it is time to see who should be paying for the costs. Given that Chile’s per capita greenhouse emissions are very small, it is clear that we must look abroad to Australia, with the highest per capita emissions, to provide a solution. When one actually knows how high Australia’s emissions are and the underestimated power Australia’s limitless resources of lithophile elements gives it, there is no question which nation bears the ultimate responsibility for this pollution crisis! Thus, if as we expect the situation becomes worse, there needs to be the first “international summit” on how to cut into Australian greenhouse emissions and demand the immediate transfer of every cent spent on roads and coal power to renewable energy, freeway demolition and revegetation, and high-quality mass transit. Hard enough pressure concentrated totally upon Australia might make a real difference in reducing the rate of global warming through a speedy shift in policies and direct payments by Australia for the costs its past and present emissions produce abroad.
Despite lagging behind Eurasia and the Americas by minimally fifty years in rail development, Australia is – but for the political influence of its road lobby – uniquely able to afford publicly-funded mass transit systems, as well as unique in its ecological need for them.
A zero-emissions Australia, as I have noted before, would also dramatically curb overseas emissions – which come from industry using Australian bauxite, iron ore and other minerals to an extent never calculated in scholarly works but likely very high. In fact, I will go so far to say that no significant global cuts will ever occur without complete cuts of Australian emissions, and this crisis has the opportunity to be a real wake-up call.