Populate or Perish

Arthur Calwell, Labor Immigration Minister at the time, came up with the strategy of populate or perish at the end of World War II, as a path to economic growth and national security for Australia. Seventy years later, the same policy will cause our own extinction.

I’m going in two directions at once with this post, thinking out loud in the hope there will be a solution.  We are consuming 1.7 of the earth’s resources at the present rate, with western countries being the highest consumers.  We are living unsustainably, and populating at a rate that is already impacting on standards of living around the world.  This is exacerbated by poor political leadership, including planning, and a growing gap between the rich and the poor.

Scientific evidence has shown there is no doubt we are in the midst of human induced climate change.  Predictions by scientists show that massive changes will take place this century, even if we reduce carbon emissions radically immediately, due to the lag in cause and effect.

Climate change will make areas unlivable very quickly, as we have seen with the last hurricane season south of the USA, flooding in Bangladesh and famine in West Africa.  People lose shelter, food and safe water sources, get sick and die.  This will happen so often world-wide in different ways, that we won’t need to consider population growth as a problem anymore, rather how to protect the existing population.

The climate is already changing, and we need strategies to stop global warming.  In the interim, the challenge is to anticipate what it to come and plan for it.

There will be unlivable areas of the planet so people will have to move or die.  Some areas will become hazardous to live in due to flooding and other extreme weather events, but with support can stay in place.

What is Australia planning to do about this?  How will we assist people overseas?  How are we preparing to accept climate change refugees?  I strongly believe that we must plan now.  This is a global problem.  By working together we can save as many people and as much of the environment as possible.  Like the two world wars before us, this is the challenge for our generation.

Future posts will look at ideas for living in a post consumption and climate change world.


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 Perfect Storm

During the storms in South Australia last week, two tornadoes flattened twenty-three transmission towers, which resulted in a state-wide blackout for three hours. Power was out in some parts of the state for several days.


“A preliminary report into the mass three-day power outage has been released by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). The report says it remains unknown what role wind power played.”

“Renewables were supplying 70 per cent of generation in South Australia at the time of the incident and we know that they work differently to conventional thermal generation,” ” abc.net.au

Clearly  wind power via the tornadoes played a large part in the blackout, but politicians were quick to blame green energy in the state for the outage, long before knowing any facts.

The first reaction was from Independent Senator Nick Xenaphon, who instantly blamed SA’s high take up of renewable energy.  “Mr Xenophon said while he supported the renewable energy target – 40 per cent of South Australia’s energy supply comes from renewable energy – the transition had been “reckless” and heads should roll over the blackout.”  afr.com  He was soon joined by Liberal and National Party  politicians, including the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who questioned the speed of the take up of renewable energy:

“Now, I regret to say that a number of the state Labor Governments have over the years set priorities and renewable targets that are extremely aggressive, extremely unrealistic, and have paid little or no attention to energy security.” Huffingtonpost.com.au

Paul Gilding in The Great Disruption, says we have done too little too late to avoid catastrophic climate change events.  He also argues that once we see the effects of climate change we will act fast to radically reduce carbon emissions.  We obviously haven’t reached the point of peak stupid. (My observation, not Paul Gilding’s).

“NASA’s data showed that each month in 2016 was the warmest respective month globally in the modern temperature record, which dates to 1880. This trend suggests 2016 will surpass 2015 as the hottest year on record, NASA said.Jul 20, 2016″ livescience.com

I’m astounded that with a consensus of scientific opinion around the world, that politicians still can’t get their head around the urgency in reducing carbon emissions.  Do they think they are reflecting the will of  the people?  Our former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, was voted in on a platform of scrapping the Carbon Tax.  At present, the Right of the Coalition wields power over a Prime Minister who was previously passionate about addressing climate change.  The present Government is also funded by powerful coal interests.

If Paul Gilding is correct, and we have left the move too late to avoid catastrophic weather events, then I hope we have a better attitude to accepting climate refugees.  Given our current acceptance of off-shore detention and refusal to settle refugee boat arrivals in Australia, we need to reflect on our future as global citizens.  The irony is, Australia may be one of the countries most effected by climate change, and do we expect our neighbours to show more humanity towards us than we have towards them?  What goes around comes around.

Paul Gilding, The Great Disruption

To end on a more positive note, this is from Paul Gilding’s book:

“Apart from the lack of CO2, the extraordinary amount of solar energy arriving on the planet means renewables make intuitive sense.  Consider this: Every hour an amount of energy equivalent to what all of humanity uses in a year hits the earth’s surface from the sun.  Even after allowing for the limits in accessibility and converting this into useful energy, a year’s supply arrives every week.

Another “annual supply” of energy is available from the wind every month and another one again each month from geothermal.  Then there is the hydro from rivers and energy in the waves and tides.  So there is just so much energy available, it is implausible that we cannot access it effectively and at a reasonable price if we put our minds to the task.”