Tuesday, 18 June 2019

A final proof the “March on Canberra” is a quarter-century and counting overdue

According to a new paper in the journal Nature, regardless of what the rest of the world does, record-breaking temperature rises are already inevitable until 2040.

At the same time, the Sydney Morning Herald is noting a zero-emissions plan for Britain – whose parity emissions per capita are minimally four times those of Australia – as Australia approves the polluting Adani coal mine. There is – and was even before last month’s surprise election – a certainty Australia will expand fossil fuels whilst the EU moves to zero-net-emissions.

Many (including my brother) naïvely believe that Australia will eventually be condemned as a pariah state for expanding fossil fuels. Nevertheless, this viewpoint overlooks demographic reality. Australia already has substantially higher total fertility than those nations most advanced in decarbonisation. Recent trends towards lowest-low fertility in Finland (from 1.9 to 1.5 children since 2010) and other European nations whose fertility was the least low during the 2000s suggests that Morrison’s policies will widen this gap.

The fact is that – as I have emphasised for two decades – Australia must ecologically have by far the lowest emissions per capita in the world. This demand places human energy consumption upon its natural biological “footing”. Environment, Capitalism and Socialism demonstrated three decades ago that the money existed to finance a rapid transition to a carbon-free Australia as early as 2005 or 2010 – were major polluters taxed severely enough.

As Dimitri Lafleur has partially shown, a carbon-free Australia would remake the world economy by:
  1. radically limiting energy and materials use on a global scale, especially in desert nations with naturally low-energy ecologies and zero hydropower potential
  2. shifting “developing” economies towards renewable energy once they do not have cheap fossil fuels from Australia and the oil states
  3. shifting energy-intensive industries towards those (Enriched and Tropical) nations with large resources in hydropower
  4. shifting agriculture towards the high-latitude nations with youngest and most fertile soils
    1. this would occur because land clearing is a major source (around 20 percent) of greenhouse emissions in Australia
    2. also, Australian soils are thirty thousand times older and more weathered than soils of most other Quaternary landmasses
    3. young, high-latitude areas are also least affected by runaway climate change shown as certain by Nature
  5. shifting away from planned obsolescence towards long-lasting consumer goods that use fewer resources over the long term
What needed to be done back in the 1990s was for the globe to recognise that – regardless of its relatively small aggregate emissions that have led even environmentalists to neglect it – a rigid, zero-compromise, zero-emissions target for Australia no later than 2010 would have:
  1. largely solved global greenhouse gas emissions by radically altering global development patterns
  2. paid for the ecological crisis out of the pockets of those people – alongside the Arab Gulf royal families – with greatest duty and ability to pay
  3. achieved this in a manner in agreement with Earth’s natural ecology (smallest per-capita energy consumption and emissions in arid desert nations)
  4. in an Enriched World then and now crippled by excessive environmental regulations, which stand likely to achieve negligible global gains while Australia mines and uses more and more coal, created major economic opportunities including:
    • phase-out of economically crippling Enriched World farm subsidies as Australia’s unsustainable pastoral and broad-acre farmland would be converted to ecotourism
    • revitalising such industries as aluminum and titanium smelting when coal use in phased out in Australia and other nations lacking hydropower potential
Given the experiences of the past quarter-century and especially last month’s election, there exists zero possibility that Australia will ever elect a more environmentally responsive government. Thus, other countries are burdened with the critical task of clamping down on the worst environmental performer – a task entirely ignored but unless achieved even a total carbon phase-out in the EU and East Asia will achieve little in the long term.

Instead of decentralised global environmental protests (as seen in recent weeks) what was needed in 1994 and stands three decades overdue was and is a global focus upon the centre of power in the worst environmental performer: protests demanding uncompromising, rapid decarbonisation of Australia, or a “March on Canberra”. Whilst the effects would not be immediate, would be costly to the rest of the world and would need to be sustained over years and even decades, they possess potential to actually deal with the planet’s worst polluter rather than permit Australia indefinite emissions increases negating large-scale decarbonisation abroad.

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