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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

stall, stall stall « Previous | |Next »
June 10, 2009

The Ingram Pinn cartoon below, entitled Political climate change refers to the change in the political climate in the UK caused by the MP expenses scandal that has placed the corrupt UK political system on the nose with voters.

However, there is also a change in the political culture in Australia due to the effects of the global financial and economic crisis. The rhetoric is one of protection and jobs, and the political discourse has narrowed to being about the economy, with the environment and global warming being pushed into the background.


The political horizons are shortening as well as narrowing in that you can sense the preparations being put in place for an election. Consequently, the shift to a low carbon economy is pushed into a never never land. The union's rhetoric is focused on jobs lost from emissions trading not on the jobs gained from the shift to renewable energy and the new industries.

The politics is one of stall, stall stall. Hold back the change. Deny the future of a warmed up world. We cannot afford early action on emissions trading, as there are jobs in the coal industry to protect. We cannot afford to reduce our reliance on cheap energy and our exports of coal to China. Say no no no to emissions trading, even though it has been deferred by Rudd Labor.

It's a depressing discourse---not the new script of recession and austerity-- but the failure to use the crisis to plan for the low carbon future that is coming. Instead of a debate about whether the content of the publicly funded stimulus (designed to ease the decline in economic activity) facilitates the shift to a low carbon economy, we just have an emphasis on the backlog of actions--roads and ports and schools.

Meanwhile money to facilitate the shift to using solar power instead of coal fired electricity continues to be cut. The austerity script during the crisis is applied to renewable energy, whilst the largess and excess of of public finding is given to the fossil fuel industry with a nod and a wink of more to come.

I am depressed by all of this and depression is emerging into a left melancholia. Unlike Freud, who made a clearcut distinction between mourning and melancholia---ie., a normal versus a pathological reaction to loss---Walter Benjamin does not view melancholy as an illness to be overcome or cured, but rather as a mood or disposition towards the world characterized by loss of a loved, desired object.

In this case it is loss of a progressive conception of social democracy and its commitment to an ecological enlightenment. The postmodern bears the disillusion and disenchantment with the promises of modernity without seeking to restore a lost integral harmony.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:17 AM | | Comments (10)


Peter Newman, the head of Curtin University's Sustainability Policy Institute in Perth, and a board members of Infrastructure Australia reinforces the above points about not taking sustainability seriously. He has claimed that the Education Revolution has missed a generational opportunity to build environmentally sustainable schools across the nation.

Recessions are where you draw breath and change directions in the use of technology in the kind of innovative processes you're using, and fundamentally we must use this to de-carbonise our economy. It's a missed opportunity unless you give a chance for innovation to come in. If you just say, 'Get it out the door as soon as possible', with a template that's based on what you did before, then you will miss out on certain things.It is a missed opportunity and it will be regretted because this should really last a generation ... this kind of funding opportunity that comes along doesn't happen that frequently.

Schools had been unable, for example, to secure funding for energy-efficient airconditioning and lighting.

yeah, the guide lines for the school infrastructure do mention environmental concerns where possible, but do not make the shift to energy efficiency a priority.

It's depressing how the process of renewal has become disconnected from climate science, given that most world leaders have acknowledged that the imperative for a new global climate treaty is that it must keep the world below a 2C rise in temperatures. There is no sense of purpose and urgency.----it's more like business-as-usual.

business-as-usual is the effect of Big Carbon''s stranglehold over Parliament and Australia's oil, gas and coal industry has increased its lobbying effort to cut off any support to build a clean energy economy.

The object of the campaign is to water down or kill off plans to pass "cap and trade" legislation this year, which would place any limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

The Rudd Government has buckled at the knees.

yep, you can hear Big Carbon's message in the voice of The Nationals. They say that in the regional towns in Australia's coal heartland (they mean Queensland in the first instance) ordinary families could be worse off by thousands of ­dollars if the Senate passes the emissions trading legislation that sets a limit on greenhouse gas emissions and makes polluters pay. It is an an energy tax that would further cripple our already struggling economy. etc etc.

The Nationals are banging the drum for Big Carbon.

The Nats aren't all that much worse than Labor on this. What's worse, to do nothing, or to appear to be doing something while actually doing nothing?

Turnbull at least supports high renewable targets and supporting renewables technologies. Rudd was only prepared to support solar while it kept unemployment down. The rebate suddenly ran out when installations were booked up to the end of the year.

at a deeper level is the resistance to a emissions trading scheme a defense of the necessity for the domination of nature by industrial capitalism in repose to the green challenge to that domination.

The nerve ends of some deep seated assumptions and cultural beliefs have been exposed and the response is one of anger, hostility, resentment and fury.

The Nationals have flicked the switch to vaudeville. I do so enjoy a good comedy routine in a run down flea circus by rag tag clowns like Senator Boswell.

all this can be put simply: the forces of reaction are forcibly resisting the initiatives of those striving for radical social change. It is a political struggle about laying the basis for a new historical system.

well, it is definitely a chaotic period we are living. That chaos would begin to undermine the strength of those trying to prop up the old fossil fuel order.

Paul Krugman put it well when talking about the American legislation for an emissions trading scheme:

Policy tends to move things in a desirable direction, yet to fall short of what you’d hoped to see. And the question becomes how many compromises, how much watering down, one is willing to accept.

The environmental community has to decide how much it’s willing to bend.