Friday, January 24, 2020

Digging Holes After the Bushfires

It is a truism that the best advice when you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging. The past four and a half months of bushfires indicate that we are in carbon induced climate change hole. And nearly a quarter of the world’s and a third of Australia’s carbon emissions are generated by transport. But our shakers and movers, from the grassroots to Canberra’s hallow halls of government, seem intent upon ignoring the application of this extractive advice in their rush back to economic normality.

For the third year running, with over 47 thousand sales last year according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), the Toyota Hilux was Australia’s most popular motor vehicle. Another dual cab ute, the Ford Ranger, came in at number two. Both these vehicles have carbon emissions of around one kilogram for every four and a quarter kilometres driven.

With this level of popularity, it is fair to surmise that a goodly number of these tradies best friend were part of the climate change induced bushfire exodus from Batemans Bay just a couple of weeks ago. Now that the rain has come, and the Kings Highway is no longer a raging inferno and has been reopened to the public, the good burgers of the Canberra beachside playground are calling for their return. They have released a video to push home their plea; a parody of the 1977 soft rock song “Baby Come Back.”

While one can appreciate their current economic pain, is more of the same the best way to go? If as suggested by the boffins that carbon in the atmosphere is a major causal factor of this recent existential holocaust surely a rinse and repeat is a very short-sighted response.

The round trip for a Canberran to enjoy a day of surf and sun with a take-a-way lunch is all but 300 kilometres. This equates to an additional 70 odd kilograms of carbon being pushed into the firmament with each trip. This equates to a tonne of carbon being emitted for little bit over 14 such trips. And with 43% of Australian cars being of this type the hopes of Batemans Bay’s tourist orientated businesses will ensure the hole keeps getting deeper.

Living up to his internet meme, our Prime Minister, Scotty from marketing, has implicitly endorsed this activity. Within the Government's national bushfire recovery fund is an allocation of $20 million to market destinations for domestic travellers and $25 million for a global tourism campaign. He wants us and the world to know that Australia is "safe and open for business."

Announcing the package Mr Morrison said "This is about getting more visitors to help keep local businesses alive and protect local jobs right across the country and especially in those areas so directly devastated such as Kangaroo Island and the Adelaide Hills, the Blue Mountains and right along the NSW Coast and East Gippsland in Victoria. "

Tourism Australia figures also show that visitors from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France and China are reluctant to experience our fires and smoke ravaged cities. For the first fortnight of the year international bookings were down by 20 to 30 per cent.

About which Margy Osmond from the Tourism and Transport Forum stated, "People are believing everything they see on social media — the country's on fire, top to bottom, coast to coast, don't go to Uluru because it's on fire, Sydney airport's on fire — crazy stuff."

But not so crazy if our bushfires have shown our potential visitors a deadly cost associated with international air travel. Which the New York Times reported, back in September at the start of our bushfires, accounts for about 2.5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. And at its current growth rate, air travel has a bullet to become a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050 alone.

Perhaps our international visitors, not being so blinkered in their outlook, are prepared to take on board the axiom associated with holes and digging. Whereas our government and those at the coal face seem to be intent on doubling down on the short term, business as usual thinking that's driving the Ardini mining adventure.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Our Survival Depends Upon Us

In this age were future growth is being replaced in the popular lexicon by future survivability and leadership is conspicuous by its abstinence it becomes a necessity to take matters into our own hands.

For the last 15 years I have, in successive stages, been decreasing my carbon footprint. Over this journey I have found my pleasure in life has increased and further forward movement has become easier.

The first was the toughest; abandoning of my beloved Alpha for the inconvenience of a pedestrian lifestyle. When I gave up putting a kilogram of carbon in the atmosphere for every five and a half kilometres travelled my world became a much larger place. There were birds and trees, flowers and shop windows to observe and enjoy in all their complexity rather than them just being a blur on the periphery of my bubble. There was my suburban neighbourhood to discover and it is a wonderous moment indeed to eventually look a magpie in the eye and see the spark of recognition that says, “I know you, you’re not an immediate threat.”

After a decade of living in urban Asia, share accommodation in Australia has a ring of familiarity. After thoughtful consideration of location, my current address affords me the same level of variety I enjoyed in a city ten times the size. I have nine supermarkets within 5 minutes’ walk of my front door. Two Asian, one Korean, two Indian, one West Australian, two National, and one international/German. I also have a daily park vista to entertain me, I can and often do watch dogs chase balls while breakfasting and men doing the same as I sip a relaxing sundowner. The dogs are more elegant and seem to derive greater pleasure from the pastime. Expectations anyone?

Since I started working in recycling with Save the Kids, I have been able to extensively update my wardrobe and have change from a hundred. I have also decorated the walls of the house with a selection of artworks for less than $50, fortunately my eye is good enough to please both my housemates and my landlord.

Then there is exhilaration of helping to bring the Perth CBD to a standstill for a morning, nonviolent civil disobedience is fun. Shamed by the school kids into joining Extinction Rebellion the opportunity to write a play for the group and being encouraged to produce it has reawakened a somnolent skillset.

And to look to the future without trepidation is to be fool hardy in the extreme. Any fears I have are not for me but for those that follow. When another 30 summers have blazed away it will be a very different world and if we don’t mend our ways, perhaps being trapped on the beach by a bushfire will have become common place? And Jonathan Watts’ bubbles of climate anxiety will not be massing near the surface as he says they are today; they will be exploding upon it with a monotonous regularity. Frogs legs anyone?

Unfortunately, it is you and I, as individuals, who will have to effect any change for it seems to be beyond the skill set of our leaders. And the best way we can do that is by how we conduct our day to day lives.

It's Been a While Since I Last Posted