December 16, 2008 | Ronda Jambe

Et tu, Rudderless?

There is just one glow of hope visible from the disastrous betrayal that the Rudd government has burdened Australia with: there is likely to be an increase in citizen activism at all levels of society.
‘It’s the environment, stupid!’
Get ready to see T-shirts with this message, even if I have to make them up myself.
Setting our emissions reduction target at just 5%, while throwing billions in corporate welfare at the most polluting industries, is a double whammy that dooms this country to the status of a fossil. Fossil fuel, that is.
This shows that Rudd is no more capable or likely to move this country towards a sustainable future than his predecessor. Stagnation we can believe in? You bet.
Please, young people, get angry. Get very angry, and get out there.
Last week I spoke about climate change to 200 bright-eyed 14 year old girls. Briefed in advance that they had already seen An Inconvenient Truth, I offered them a historical perspective. What innovations have come in their brief lifetime? (i-pods, the internet browser, wide screen TV, DVD’s, You Tube, ubiquitous mobile phones, with cameras, and my favourite, the digital camera)
And what environmental impacts have we seen? dead zones in oceans, melting ice caps, record-setting heat waves and droughts, Canberra drying out severely, etc. You get the picture of the bla bla.
And I told them I would have to leave them to reap the results and work out solutions, because I’m old enough to be their grandmother (sadly no one gasped in disbelief) and in 20 years, when they are in the prime of their lives, and the fan no longer has the electricity to filter the poop, I will most likely be drooling in a rocking chair.
Had the news been out then about the collapse of grandfatherly Madoff’s huge and long-lived Ponzi scheme, I would have told them that the world economy is being run like one big Ponzi scheme, and they are the ultimate suckers at the end of the line. Their environmental ‘cash’ is being burned.
So thanks, Kev, I knew you were a former public servant, and being one of those myself, I know how lacking in courage many of them are. Fearful of change, timid and not very good at assessing risk.
A reduction of 5% could have been achieved just by banning land clearing. This important aspect isn’t mentioned in the white paper. A letter to the editor in the Tuesday Canberra Times spelled it out: We are probably going to see our 3 major industries die. Tourism will fade as the Great Barrief Reef beomes a relic. Agriculture will diminish as both an export industry and as a source of food (how exactly do we plan to feed ourselves if the scenarios being predicted come to pass?) And ironically, the mining and extractive industries won’t be saved by Rudd’s approach. Rather, as the world moves forward, we will be left behind.
We would be lucky to be left with a banana republic. You need bananas for that.
Obama has appointed a believer as his energy advisor: Professor Chu is not only a Nobel Prize winner, he is also an expert on renewable energy. He is connected enough to read the data coming in and know that the IPCC predictions are conservative. Australian eyes will now turn towards the US for leadership, in hopes that our government will be shamed into more realistic policies.
Good luck Rudderless, I’d be surprised if the public gives you a second chance. You’ve blown it.
To read the view of Anna Rose, a young woman inside the pretentious emissions trading scheme lock-up in
Canberra, see: ‘Rudd Has Betrayed A Generation’

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 3:44 pm | Comments (9) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. Ronda
    What a depressing picture you paint; do Gaia a favour – switch off your house lights, send the cat to the RSPCA, terminate your Greenpeace subscription and commit suicide. Only then can the remaining sane adults wonder how we allowed our children to get so terrified of the future and why we didn’t earlier buy shares in pharmaceutical companies that make anti-depressants.

    Comment by Rossko — December 17, 2008 @ 11:07 am

  2. Rossko,
    Do the world a favour and keep your assine comments to yourself. Actually I reckon that any action is probably too late. Even without global warming the world was in fairly bad state environmentally. I think Ridley Scott painted realistic picture, not dead but very sick. That said we humans are cursed with hope so we always give it a try, usually a 5 minutes to midnight.

    Comment by Patrick B — December 17, 2008 @ 11:17 am

  3. Well, Rossko, I don’t see anything depressing in my blog. A little bit of truth-telling, is all, and an encouragement to take democratic and peaceful action.
    Actually, a news report today says that anti-depressants are the most common drug prescribed to young women in Australia, so maybe the myth of endless consumerism has got them down.
    But you can be a nay-sayer like the rest, if that makes you content with our current state of governance.
    My understanding was that Rudd promised leadership, and now he is doing the opposite. Ostriches of the world, unite!

    Comment by ronda jambe — December 17, 2008 @ 11:54 am

  4. In this post, are you implying that those problems (death of great barrier reef, melting ice-caps etc) would not happen if Rudd had picked a 25% target?
    Your post is noticable for two things. First, it is clearly fear-mongering (we’ll all be ruined). Second, it shows a total disregard for whether the policy will achieve more benefits than costs.
    If you care about the next generation, surely you should only introduce public policy that has more benefits than costs.
    Ultimately, the next generation can’t eat good intentions.

    Comment by John Humphreys — December 19, 2008 @ 11:36 am

  5. Well Ronda, I for one believe your predictions are conservative. Rudd’s shown himself to be a dropkick in environmental matters but in the West, Premier Barnett will be rejoicing.
    It matters not that the Swan river is facing ecological collapse or that the river will be dead in ten years, as predicted by former head of EPA, Wally Cox, who attributes the demise of the river to farmers’ emissions of animal waste and fertilisers and home gardeners’ penchant for having the best garden in the street. Yet farmers deny any responsibility and are protesting against a proposed ban of the current highly soluble and destructive fertilisers.
    Again, the current Premier has delayed a fishing ban which would have assisted in restoring juvenile lobster (all but vanished,) dhufish, pink snapper, bald-chin groper and red snapper in WA waters.
    WA must now endure the neglect of successive governments who have idly stood by while salinity is now engulfing the equivalent land mass of 19 football fields per day.
    Almost three-quarters of Australia’s migratory and resident shorebirds have disappeared over the past 25 years, a recent 2008 study has revealed.
    And a large-scale aerial survey of eastern Australia by researchers from the University of New South Wales reveals that migratory shorebird populations were once much larger and have plunged by 73 per cent between 1983 and 2006.
    During that same period, the populations of Australia’s 15 resident shorebird species have dropped by 81 per cent, according to the study, published in the scientific journal Biological Conservation.
    Again in WA, mass bird and animal deaths continue because of irresponsible mining operations and other pollutant industries.
    Now WA National MP, Terry Redman, believes that flogging off farm land to interested, Middle Eastern investors would be a good idea.
    H..e…l…p! Where can I get those anti-depressants?!!

    Comment by Politicians and Plagues — December 20, 2008 @ 6:02 pm

  6. gulp. That dose of reality from WA has my head spinning. It is a clear outline of the range of environmental threats and the lack of action. We don’t hear enough about how bad things are around the country. Except perhaps from the ABC and Background Briefing. Where are the wise leaders? Where is the public outcry? Can’t we all see what is coming?
    Thanks for the sad information, maybe someday soon we will all wake up, but I do fear it is getting too late.

    Comment by ronda jambe — December 23, 2008 @ 9:07 am

  7. John, the costs and benefits have to take into account (and the science of measuring environmental costs is in its early days) the long-term damage to the environment. If the true costs of burning coal were internalised to the economics, coal electricity plants would become uneconomical overnight.
    No environment = no economy. That is a no brainer. The real and more subtle challenge is to spread the costs of the transition fairly and honestly. To date, the polluters have had a free ride. Until we face that truth, we can’t move forward, and you and I will pay the price instead. Our children will curse us.

    Comment by ronda jambe — December 23, 2008 @ 9:13 am

  8. John
    I firmly believe that had Rudd gone for a 25% reduction in CO2, the coral reef ecosystems of the GBR would have had a greater opportunity to remediate the damage done by anthropogenic pollution.
    There is very compelling evidence that farming is harming the Great Barrier Reef. The Queensland farms have been damaging the reefs because of increased run-off of agricultural sediments, nutrients and chemicals which have reduced coral cover and biodiversity in recent years.
    The conclusions of two scientists from the Australia Institute of Marine Science found a casual link between agricultural pollution, low coral biodiversity, and poor re-colonization of the reef. An example from their experiment is that hard coral biodiversity were in greater abundance, almost double, on reefs that were far from agricultural areas than the reefs that were closer.
    Additionally, it was also found that coral cover and biodiversity decreased as the dose of pollutants increased (Nowak, 2003.) Overall this research has led to the conclusion that farming in this area and the pesticides and fertilizers used are a major health risk for the coral and biodiversity of the reefs.
    And the prolific use of hydrocarbon based agricultural chemicals should cease. Furthermore, industrial pollution from agriculture is not the only hazards in which the GBR must struggle to defend itself.
    In Australia the big polluters have had free reign to plunder and pollute our ecosystems. Much of atmospheric CO2 was initially another destructive chemical before being burnt. All organic chemicals burn to CO2. Several industrial chemical emissions are also teratogenic, mutagenic and carcinogenic – all dumping on our fragile ecosystems and seriously impacting on human and animal health.
    Recommended guidelines for hazardous industrial emissions are largely ignored by sycophantic successive governments.
    In addition, pollutant industries are given carte blanche in this country to emit tonnes of benzene, arsenic, cyanide, chromium 111, lead, nickel, mercury, dioxins etcetera with impunity while heads of EPA’s refer to the perpetrators as “clients.” I understood that the only client appropriate for EPA’s was the environment.
    The industrial barons will continue to have their way, thanks to Mr five percent Rudd but ultimately, the next generation will learn that money can’t be eaten – errrrr…..though perhaps that advice could be refuted by our industry aligned, bureaucratic bunglers:

    Comment by Politicians and Plagues — December 23, 2008 @ 5:23 pm

  9. Ronda — there are plenty of estimates of the appropriate “pigouvian tax” for the environmental consequences from carbon. If they were introduced then coal would still be cheaper than most alternatives — with the possible exception of nuclear.
    We need to see the evidence that the current (or a more dramatic) policy will actually provide any benefits. Then we need to look at the potential costs. We need to bare in mind other ways to achieve our goals, and see if those are cheaper. And we need to do all of this rationally because future generations are not impressed by rash, illogical policy-on-the-run that leaves them worse off.

    Comment by John Humphreys — December 30, 2008 @ 8:40 pm

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