Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Climate danger: take heart and fight on

30 December 2018  https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/climate-danger-take-heart-and-fight-on-20181228-p50okk.html  Sydney took the full blast of summer during the week. Some of us might have wondered: is this the turning point? The season when the summer outstays its welcome, drier and hotter with every year? And whatever happened to those cute Christmas beetles? Meanwhile, 2018 ends with the world mired as it has been for more than a decade in the politics of alleviating global warming. At the climate summit in Katowice, Poland, renowned British naturalist David Attenborough warned: “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.” But the summit produced another frustrating outcome, as did its forebears, Paris, Copenhagen, Kyoto and Rio.

Listening to those who govern us,  it sometimes seems as if despair is the only logical response.  We have a Prime Minister who, as treasurer, gleefully wielded a lump of coal in Parliament, saying it was nothing to be afraid of. Scott Morrison has made restraining power costs, not fixing emissions, the focus of his bid for re-election in May. He says Australia is meeting its Paris pledge of a 26 per cent cut in emissions by 2030, based on 2005 levels, “in a canter”, but experts say this target is no longer enough to help the planet stave off dangerous warming.

But despair, so damaging to mental health, is not the answer. When despair leads to apathy, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We can’t escape climate change entirely but any action that leads to a better future is worth taking.

The antidote is action and activism. Criticism, led by the Prime Minister, of the school students’ protest against climate inaction in November was misguided.

Today’s young people face a full 21st century of  dangerous rising temperatures. As one parent pointed out in a letter to The Sydney Morning Herald: “Our daughter,  aged 15, participated in the rally with our consent as we believe she deserves to have a voice on important issues that affect her future. We support and encourage our children to take an interest in the world around them so that they might become engaged citizens willing to make a difference to the communities in which they work and live.”

Young or old, we are not waiting for directions from the political class. This is perhaps wise when the Coalition is torn over by climate policy, Labor is fudging its attitude to the Adani coal mine project in north Queensland, and the Greens are eating themselves alive.

Look instead to the one-fifth of Australian homes that now have solar panels. As The Sydney Morning Herald reported this month, surging power bills and the falling price of solar panels have pushed the number of households with photovoltaics on their roofs past the 2 million mark. We now think nothing of cutting water use and reusing shopping bags.

Lower levels of government are taking encouraging action. Energy Minister Don Harwin committed the NSW government to getting to zero emissions by 2050.  The City of Sydney draft renewable energy master plan foresees having all the council area’s electricity, heating and cooling supplied from renewable sources by 2030.

Australia is still being powered by that planet-killer coal. We are, as Environment Minister Melissa Price reminds us, responsible for just 1.3 per cent of global emissions, so we won’t change the world on our own. But few nations have as good a chance as us to strike out on a fresh path in 2019. We have the sunlight, land and skilled population to make this happen, with the right will.

Decarbonising the economy has benefits beyond reducing emissions. Coal mining is destructive to the land and water, and the jobs it provides can cause ill-health. The renewable industry can create new 21st-century jobs and become an export industry.

Action trumps despair. As the classic advertising slogan says: we’re worth it.

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December 30, 2018 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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