Famine, the end of the World and an Action Plan

The United Nations said 20,000,000 people from four countries in Africa are at risk of starvation if $4.4 billion of aid effort doesn’t reach them by the end of July.  This is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis since the UN was formed in 1945.

Four Corners on ABC TV last Monday night, examined the effects of climate change on global instability, including the current war in Syria as a result of drought and famine.  Also, the mass migration of people due to rising sea levels and the lack of usable agricultural land.

At risk of sounding alarmist, though I don’t know how we can’t view current news as alarming, the website Arctic News, warns of a mass extinction of species, including our own, within one decade if we don’t act fast.  The warming of the Arctic (and Antarctic) results in a rapidly compounding chain of events that accelerates global warming dramatically.

The editor, Sam Carana, presents a Climate Action Plan that is flexible enough to be adopted by any country around the world.  The plan recommends feebates, rather than a carbon tax;

“i.e. combinations of fees and rebates.  In each case, a local feebate will facilitate the transition from specific polluting products to clean alternatives, by imposing fees on sales of the polluting products as a percentage of the price, while each time using the revenues exclusively to fund rebates on products that are both sold locally and constitute clean alternatives to the polluting products.”

Donate to the African Famine Appeal through Red Cross

 

The Walking Dead in Washington

In this fascinating article, Paul Gilding, the author of one of my favourite books, The Great Disruption, writes about the USA Presidency of Donald Trump and where we are today in regard to Gilding’s predictions in 2009 of the global effects of climate change.

Paul Gilding

We’re all focused on the drama and entertainment of Trump’s takeover of the world’s centre of military, security and economic power. For some it’s exciting and entertaining, for others terrifying and apocalyptic. I too have been glued to the news – at various times having each of those responses! But now I’ve come back to earth, recognising it all for what it is. Important, but a sideshow to a much bigger and more important game. And on reflection, I’m glad he got elected.

How can a Trump Presidency be positive? Surely this is a major setback – to action on climate change, to addressing inequality, to human rights and global security. Doesn’t it make the world a scarier and less stable place?  In isolation, all true, but in context, not so much. The context is the key.

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South Australia leading the Nation

Or Old Ideologies v’s the Future.  I’m starting this post with a fascinating live link to the energy sources powering Australia at the moment:

http://www.statedevelopment.sa.gov.au/resources/energy-supply/south-australias-electricity-supply-and-market

The next installment of the Perfect Storm II began earlier this week when our Premier, Jay Weatherill, announced South Australia was taking control of its own energy needs.  This came after constant sniping from the Federal Liberal National Government over our blackouts the last few months.

Some history to the blackouts

South Australia wasn’t the only state experiencing blackouts over summer, but the other states are powered mostly by coal.  The Federal Government has an unusual obsession with coal.  Against majority international scientific opinion, they regard coal as the future, and do everything they can to ensure Australia’s main energy source is coal.

After each blackout the Federal Government would blame our high uptake of renewable energy.  In every case, this wasn’t the cause.  In contrast there was silence when the other states experienced blackouts.

The last coal fired power station in South Australia and the Leigh Creek coal mine closed last year.  This was due to economic reasons.  The Victorian Hazelwood brown coal fired power station is also going to close this year.

In contrast, the Queensland Government with assistance from the Federal Government, is in the process of allowing Adani to open the biggest coal mine in Australia, and is attempting to push through amendments to the Native Title Act to over-ride any opposition from the First Nation peoples.  The Adani CEO was responsible for a major environmental disaster in South Africa, and here are some more reasons why the mine shouldn’t go ahead:

http://www.aycc.org.au/adani_is_back?

The Announcement

As part of our state taking control of its energy needs, our Premier announced we would install a 100mWh battery storage system, after visiting Tesla boss Elon Musk offered to solve our blackouts by installing a 100mWh system in 100 days or it would be free*.  Tesla has already installed a 80mWh system in California.  Germany is also aiming to increase their storage from 60mWh to 200mWh this year.

The announcement included increasing our gas extraction (we are assured it doesn’t including fracking) and also building a new government owned gas fired power station to ensure (cheaper?) reliable energy supply.

We are told gas is a bridge between coal and 100% renewable energy for our state.  Port Augusta is very keen on building a solar thermal plant, and the Government is due to make a decision on this by June.  Many renewables supporters think we should stop investing in gas and put all the money into renewable energy sources only.  As more money is invested, the cheaper renewable energy becomes.

The fact is, the power purchase solar panels on our roof have generated an average of 23kWhs/day from October to January, and with battery storage we could have easily powered our household and put energy back in the grid.  There are many roofs without solar panels in SA.

Like most other Australian states and territories, there is massive land space in South Australia for wind, solar thermal, and solar panels.  With battery storage, we have the weather to power South Australia and further afield.  Our Federal Government has removed incentives for renewable energy and recently talked about using the clean energy fund to finance a ‘clean coal’ power station, to the disgust of many.  it is extremely frustrating watching the Government bypass opportunities to support renewable energy based on old ideologies.

Our Premier’s announcement sparked a panicked policy announcement by Prime Minister Turnbull to increase the size of the Snowy Mountains hydro scheme by 50%.  Along with the newly elected Labor Government in Western Australia, hopefully this is the beginning of a turnaround towards renewable energy.

*The SA system is going out to tender so one or a multiple of companies can bid for the project.

The Great Australian Lie

Black Mark

brun-flags-not-snags unknown, stencil, Brunswick

“Australian history does not read like history, but the most beautiful lies.” Mark Twain wrote and he knew how to stretch the truth.

There are so many lies; Australians aren’t racist but yet have managed to commit genocide and have racism in it constitution. The bullshit piles up so fast you’d be buried alive if you only listened to Australians.

Remembering that the The Commonwealth of Australia exists as nothing but words. The country that calls itself The Commonwealth of Australia is built on the lie of terra nullius; everyone knows that the Aboriginals were the true owners of the land. The only things that is definitely Australian is the word ‘Australian’; everything else is disputed territory.

“Indeed, what we think of as Australia is a species of fiction – as, in essence, is any nation. Hoaxes lie at the foundation of the European discovery and settlement…

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Happy Christmas Island Detention Centre II

Part II of this post centres on an article written by Jonathon Holmes in the Sydney Morning Herald in May 2016:

The Pacific Solution’s brutal fact: we need it.
We risk social disruption if we take more than a tiny fraction of asylum seekers.

Or, “I’ve got no ideas, so why am I bothering to write about this?”

In the article, Holmes says most people he knows deplore the Pacific Solution policy on moral grounds, but “I don’t believe one should pontificate about a policy unless one has some vaguely practical alternative to propose.”

The first hole in Holmes’ argument is that the boats have been stopped.  They haven’t been stopped, they are turned around.  The boats are still arriving.

The second is the “flood of reaction” from viewers unsympathetic to the situation of the Tampa when it was aired.  At the time, the Government, assisted by some sections of the media, worked hard to demonise the asylum seekers claiming falsely they threw children overboard, and so won an election based on a fabricated situation.

The article continues to say we can’t accept more than a trickle of refugees without social disruption, and Holmes can’t think of a better solution so champions what we have.  In other words, to maintain the status quo, we can only accept a small number of refugees who come through the “proper” channels.

To come to an end point on any problem, you have to discount what isn’t tenable:

We are signatories to the Refugee Convention, so we can’t do anything that contravenes it.  This instantly removes the option of returning refugees to the country they were fleeing.  It also removes the option of detention, once they are found to be genuine refugees.  It also removes the option of settling refugees overseas.

As long as we accept our status as signatories, we must accept our responsibilities.  If that “opens the floodgates”, then so be it.  We can stop a lot of people drowning at sea by intercepting their boats as soon as they reach Australian waters and bring them on board.  Is this a “practical” solution?  Yes, in that the money we waste on off-shore detention could be funneled into saving lives.

We may have to change our views about inclusion, accept that the era of a small Australia has ended, and realise that the global issues of over-population, climate change and food shortages will involve massive change regardless of what we do.

This sticking our head in the sand approach gives me the shits.  As a country, we are as great as how we treat our most vulnerable people.  It would take little effort on our part to settle the refugees on Manus Island and Nauru in Australia.

The number of displaced people world-wide was around 65 million in 2015 and will no doubt get higher.  By ignoring it we aren’t going to improve the lives of millions of people.  The question is, are we prepared to share what we have in return for helping more, and if not, then what are we?  As always, it comes down to the sheep and the goats.