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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)



On the eve of climate change destruction?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has just released its latest Impacts volume of the Fifth Assessment Report .

It doesn’t make for joyous reading for those of us who think beyond the next annual profit report. Anthony McMichael, Colin Butler and Helen Berry, three Australian academics, contributed to the health impacts report. They couldn’t be clearer. Here is what they say in part in an article called ‘Climate change and health: IPCC reports emerging risks, emerging consensus‘ in Monday’s The Conversation.

Missing from the discussion is the threat climate change poses to Earth’s life-support system – from declines in regional food yields, freshwater shortage, damage to settlements from extreme weather events and loss of habitable, especially coastal, land. The list goes on: changes in infectious disease patterns and the mental health consequences of trauma, loss, displacement and resource conflict.

In short, human-driven climate change poses a great threat, unprecedented in type and scale, to well-being, health and perhaps even to human survival.

Long term, there is a threat to human survival.

So we aren’t on the eve of destruction right now and we can all relax can we? Well, no.

Capitalism as a system of production is blind to long term consequences, to so-called ‘externalities’ producing possible extinction for example.  Its purpose is profit as quickly as possible and reinvestment of that profit in capital and labour power to make …. more profit.

The political expression of this is the climate science deniers and their neanderthal cousins, the ‘free’ market politicians and all the others who worship at the altar of profit.  They might talk about direct action or a price on carbon but this masks a deeper reality, one which takes on an even more macabre sense now that some academics are warning of possible extinction.  That deeper reality is that profit comes before people, that profit comes before the planet.

Capitalists would live in shit if it meant they made a good profit.  Climate change might deliver on the first part of that scenario but not the second because, according to a leaked IPCC report mentioned in the Sydney Morning Herald, rising temperatures (of say 4 degrees centigrade by 2100) will reduce global productivity by 40% in the warmer months.

Put simply we won’t be able to adapt enough to the much higher temperatures. You can’t air condition the environment.

It is not just the bosses’ bottom line this will affect. As the three academics say in The Conversation:

The chapter discusses three impact categories in particular:

under-nutrition and impaired child development due to reduced food yields

injuries, hospitalisations and deaths due to intense heat waves, fires and other weather disasters and

shifts in the seasonal duration and spatial range of infectious diseases.

Starving people, and those burned or flooded out, will move to find food and shelter. Memo to the Scott Morrison’s of the world: One hundred million Bangladeshis fleeing floods and looking for food can’t be turned back.

Climate change is and will continue to have a big impact on Australia. Let me summarise in my own words chapter 25 of the report which is on Australia (and New Zealand, which I don’t discuss.)

Rockhampton will be in Sydney. See the Great Barrier Reef before we kill it. Kiss goodbye to the snowfields. Find some way to cool down all day every day or move somewhere a bit cool, like Tasmania. Take out flood and fire insurance. Stock up on water purifiers. Don’t buy homes too close to the coast. Definitely don’t buy a farm. If you are indigenous or poor or both, you are completely stuffed. Well, maybe not you but your grandkids for sure.

We can begin mitigation strategies to address the impacts of climate change now, but it is already past the tipping point for major changes to occur. How then can we address the challenge of already in place but forthcoming climate change and prevent it worsening over time?

Plant a few more trees, like that spokesman for the polluters, Tony Abbott, suggests. Yeah, Tony, the boy with his fingers in the dyke.  Or maybe we could put a price on carbon like Labor implemented?  Yeah, fiddling while Rome burns.

It was Australian National University earth and paleo-scientist Andrew Glikson who wrote in The Conversation that the consequence of the dumbing down of the debate was that ‘an irrelevant discourse ensues between those willing to undertake symbolic action and those who deny the science altogether.’

An irrelevant discourse and symbolic action – that’s both direct action and the carbon tax.

It is time to end the fantasy of finding the ‘right’ price on carbon. As Simon Butler has said:

‘At the launch of last year’s Climate Summit, I argued that carbon pricing – the notion that we can best reduce pollution by extending private property rights to pollution – had a fatal flaw at its core. Prices can never reflect true ecological values because those values simply cannot be expressed in dollar terms.’

What can we do?

Let’s start the fightback for system change to stop climate change

The challenge of climate change is so immense and capitalism so incapable of addressing it that only overthrowing the rotten system can limit the damage and ultimately prevent a possible spiral into extinction.

Capitalism is built on fossil fuels. Getting rid of its dependence on fossil fuels requires getting rid of capitalism.

Democratic working class revolution is the solution.

Like all posts on this blog, comments – see the link under the heading – close after 7 days.





Pingback from On the eve of climate change destruction? | OzHouse
Time March 31, 2014 at 6:12 pm

[…] Mar 31 2014 by admin […]

Comment from John Robertson
Time April 7, 2014 at 9:27 am

More catastrophist drivel! The IPCC and climate zealots generally have a massive financial incentive (e.g. their jobs and their pay) in trying to frighten us all and so keep funds flowing to their cause.

It is impossible to prove that a dire prediction is drivel just as it is impossible to prove that it is true. But time always tells. Malthus, the Club of Rome, End of the World in xxxx, and so on and so on. All proved spectacularly wrong by the passage of time. So it will be with the crackpot climate zealots and the IPCC.

In the case of CO2 however, we do have substantial evidence of the trend. Since 1900 carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen some 35% – not 100% but not a trivial amount either. During that time population has risen from 1.6 billion to 7 billion and World average life expectancy at birth from about 31 years in 1900 to 67 years now. What a fantastic achievement and one hardly consistent with the onrush of morbidity. On the facts to date it does not seem that considerably more CO2 brings doom to humankind.

Do we now have violent storms, extreme weather events and outbreaks of disease? Of course! We always have had and always will.

A global phenomenon must be assessed using global metrics. By such metrics more CO2 has been massively good for the World. Given that it is the major plant food by far that is hardly surprising – but climate zealots are never naive prey to the obvious.

How welcome it is that you have Jennifer to write consistent, factual good sense and keep us in the right direction!