May 04, 2013 | Ronda Jambe

Connect the dots: more severe weather and less reporting

Thank heavens there isn’t any climate change, at least any that humans are causing. Or maybe just any that the elite media in the US considers worthy of their reporting.

Recently both the New York Times and the Washington Post have cut back their environmental reporting and blogging. This article on Grist reveals the crap they still devote resources to, at the expense of serious issues like climate change:

NYT, WaPo cut back environment coverage, since we’re not worried about that anymore

Meanwhile, horrible wildfires in California and unusual snowstorms further east are more evidence that crazy weather extremes are now becoming the new normal. Al Jazeera is just one of those reporting on this:

Severe weather slams the USA

What does this add up to? A less informed public, less capable of engaging their elected officials in climate action or preparedness. Who benefits? Follow the money.

And I sure hope the pollies prove me wrong, but somehow I suspect climate change and the environment aren’t going to rate real high in the September elections here in Australia. Getting rid of the carbon tax might rate, but without alternatives from Mr Abbott.

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 8:37 pm | Comments (14) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. Ronda, I share your concern.

    It has alway been a human-centric world, so i am not sure how we are ever going to get around our obsession on pure economic growth without making eco measures part of GDP growth in a way that does not penalise the Aust economy.

    Just look at Aust. Carbon tax, but absolutely no way that our emphasis on coal exports to less pluralist soceties is going to make any real difference.

    Comment by Chris Lewis — May 5, 2013 @ 8:58 am

  2. Maybe we need to think differently and picture an Australia that uncouples development and quality of life from commodities. Lots of people writing along those lines.

    Comment by ronda jambe — May 6, 2013 @ 5:12 pm

  3. It has always been a human centrist world?
    Well, if you were one of around 1 billion humans living, if that’s the word, on less than a $1.25 a day, your perceptions would be very different and priorities a lot narrower and much more immediate and pressing.
    Part of being human, is to care and worry about other humans, and indeed, in many/most cases, put them and their real needs, ahead of our own!
    That doesn’t means lacking care and concern for those other species we share the planet with?
    It does mean not making obtuse decisions with regard to the survival and welfare of our native flora and fauna.
    Like locking up vast tracts of land, then making them no go areas, that then see the fuel load build and build, until the only possible outcome is a wild fire of biblical proportions, that wipes out millions of our feathered and furry friends.
    Many already on the endangered or threatened list!
    Or refusing to allow essential dams, which would mitigate against floods, and or, the millions of tons of alluvium, that year on year, flow out to sea and wipe out millions of acres of sea grass, and all the life forms that depend on it, in any part of the natural food chain. If any of us starved our cattle or horses in anything like a similar way, we’ed pay huge fines and endure some real jail time!
    Human centric indeed!
    If we were human centric, impoverished old ladies, wouldn’t die alone and uncared for, in their threadbare city apartments, or freeze to death in some big city subway; and, only noticed weeks after, when the smell has become so odious, that we can no longer ignore it.
    Or eke out a bare survival in a tent on the outskirts of some city, in some so called, largest and most successful economy.
    Nor would we simply turn a, I’m all right jack, ultra practised blind eye, to one hundred thousand homeless, here in one of the so-called wealthiest nations on earth.
    The sad and inconvenient truth, it’s not an either either!
    We can grow a prosperous economy as well as look after the environment.
    Without ever once turning a calloused and indifferent blind eye, to endless human misery; or indeed, some of the most asinine decisions, made by some of the most obtuse single issue proponents on the planet.
    Facts are, we simply can’t isolate and fix one or two problems, while ignoring countless others. Most are interconnected and complex?
    i.e., if we want the poor in sub-Saharan Africa, to stop burning their forests for fuel, we need to provide an equally affordable and much more sustainable substitute.
    As opposed to taking a wise old owl stance, and simply griping endlessly, about a humanist centric world, or too many people!?
    Ditto if we want our poorest citizens to stop using their threatened wildlife as a food source, or economic resource!
    And getting good environmental outcomes, needs to also be affordable, rather than deepen already deep and dark economic recessions.
    And yes, there are better more affordable alternatives that actually work to reduce the carbon load.
    But no, its save a few very old trees, or the wedge-tailed pink and purple winged parrot, or tear down that dam.
    Or just print and hand out more money to deal with post code poverty traps.
    Have you ever heard of anything more risible or ridiculous than that!?
    We just don’t solve any of these problems by simply trying to exclude humans or their legitimate concerns/needs; or their basic human rights; you know, the ones which we simply take for granted for ourselves!
    We solve these problems by bringing people with us, by including them and focusing on those real solutions, that simply walk out the door, and are affordable for even the poorest.
    We also need to focus on providing a decent level of education for all, if we truly want to reduce population pressures, and all the environmental harm that flows from that.
    The environment is the last thing a starving family worries about, and in truth, there are far too many doing it tough.
    Moreover, they are just as deserving as those of us warm and comfortable, sipping our lattes, in our upmarket inner city apartments!
    Our real power to affect positive change lays in the ballot box, you know, the one around 60-70% of Americans ignore!
    And others bitch about, all while voting informal; or, for the same old same old candidates, who work a lot harder, it would seem, for the fossil fuel companies, than they do for us?
    We need a new narrative and the economic reforms, that would allow us to decarb out economies, without also tanking them even further, or creating another great depression, which by the way, was still having deleterious effects, thirty years after it first reared its ugly head?
    The environment and its continuing demise, will be put well and truly on the back burner, if we fail to solve the economic malaise, currently squeezing the economic life, prospects and legitimate valid dreams and erstwhile ambitions, out of too many of our fellow humans.
    I won’t repeat the solutions I’ve already canvassed.
    Except to say, there seems to be three kinds complaining about what others are not doing?
    Those who always think it is someone else’s problem, and those that think the fix is simple and solved by some magic population reduction wand?
    Or those who have reduced it to a single issue solution, like simply saving a few old trees.
    Facts are, trees store carbon whether vertical or horizontal.
    And young vigorous forest growth, collects and absorbs much more of it, than old geriatric trees.
    Or the world’s sea grass absorbs three times as much carbon as all the forests of the world.
    Therefore, saving it has to be equally or more important.
    Or, accepting conventional fuel alternatives, [like our indigenous sulphur free sweet light crude or copious NG,] and or exploitation, that in actual use, reduces total carbon output by as much as 75%!
    As opposed to simply locking very low carbon, natural resources away, on some very obtuse or incredibly misguided, locked and bolted mindset, that only allows for personally perceived perfect solutions, or none at all?
    When we could and should be exploiting these very resources, to create the trillions we need, to pragmatically decarb endlessly sustainable economies, all while quite massively reducing the carbon load, we currently add to the environment, courtesy of the current status quo!
    A 75% reduction, is hardly a bad outcome, and time added to the diminishing widow of opportunity, that we still have to act, to avoid the 2C increase, that puts us over a tipping point, from which recovery is virtually impossible!
    And if that then means exploring and exploiting “the reef” for its naturally occurring, much lower carbon alternatives, then that’s exactly what we should do!
    But particularly, if the actual goal is to actually save most of what remains of “the reef”!
    Alan B. Goulding.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — May 6, 2013 @ 5:41 pm

  4. Very eloquent, Alan. Now who do we vote for? For me, community based support and action is one way forward, but even that is hard, slow and uncertain. The big things you talk about are even harder, no matter how important. I am hoping that the national disability scheme will be helpful, that the carbon tax and mining taxes will be improved.

    Comment by ronda jambe — May 6, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

  5. Vote Liberal Rhonda

    Comment by keith kennelly — May 6, 2013 @ 6:27 pm

  6. What is the Liberal plan for Australia’s future? Vague to non-existent, or an extinct version of the growth mantra.

    Comment by ronda jambe — May 6, 2013 @ 7:40 pm

  7. Who to vote for Rhonda?
    I believe putting the current incumbent last on the ballot paper and their preference partner next, would have the desired effect!
    A simple repeatable strategy, that may well tell all politicians, and parties to lift their game, on all the canvassed or important issues.
    I don’t see the mining tax or the carbon tax as being genuinely useful or actually changing very much.
    And besides, there is now simply too much civil rejection for either to work?
    I would rather back a cap and tax scheme, (carrot and stick). That one, creates a progressively lowering cap on emission, and then punishes only that emission above the cap, with two, a progressively more and more punitive tax.
    Otherwise, I’m in favour of quite massive and genuine tax reform, towards a single stand alone unavoidable expenditure tax.
    Consider, each and every carbon footprint almost exactly equates to our expenditure, be we a giant multinational, tax avoiding corporation, or single individual.
    The additional revenue, (about a 100 billion plus) this simple painless model would collect, would make things like Gonski, and the Disability Insurance Scheme, immediately and fully affordable; and indeed,allow us, to really start to actually roll out rapid rail and several other nation building carbon reducing options; like say, locally based publicly provided carbon neutral or carbon free energy provision proposals.
    Just this much change would reduce carbon emission by an almost immediate 25%!
    And more than half energy costs! Who wouldn’t be in favour of that!?
    All that’s currently missing is the money/tax revenue!
    The end of the need to impose current tax compliance, would lift most bottom-lines by around 7%, and provide a long term inflation free stimulus, that would see more and more coming around and onside.
    As would the accompanying repeal of virtually every other tax measure, which would then become entirely unnecessary, for tax collection purposes!
    Which by the way, as a non inflationary stimulus measure, would add as much as 30% to the average bottom line, and 25% to household disposables.
    Which would also enable an immediate, a non contributory, 15% super, and a quite useful discretionary spend stimulus, or savings/debt reduction or some combination of of all the above?
    I’ve written a more in depth article on my proposed tax reform, which if Graham decides to publish, would much more fully inform, than I’ve done here?
    It would also deal with the destiny of demography, which without mine or similar reform, will very soon, impose larger and larger tax burdens on fewer and fewer tax payers!
    A cap and tax scheme, would be based on an honour scheme and a few relocatable downwind air monitors, plus extremely punitive, multimillion dollar fines, for trying to rort the system.
    I just can’t contemplate, creating another veritable army of public servants, when say, a very generous reward system for the public, (collected as part of the fine) who dob in offenders, might work even better, and far more immediately, at far less cost to the public purse.
    Besides, most of our corporate citizens are honourable and law abiding, good corporate citizens?
    All I’ve seen to date is an endless talk feast, which simply has to conclude and be replaced by action!
    Cheers, Alan.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — May 6, 2013 @ 8:11 pm

  8. that sounds like a generally sensible outline for meaningful change. not sure that the honour system for monitoring cap and trade would work, taxing expenditure is certainly attractive. for sure, complexity in the tax system (or other public policy) is itself inherently a weakness and a source of distortion and/or corruption.
    surely eliminating the baby bonus and some of the more luxurious aspects of super for the well to do, along with axing all subsidies for fossil fuel industries would also make sense.

    we need to start investing in post-carbon infrastructure now, along with a good hard look at our food sovreignty.

    Comment by ronda jambe — May 6, 2013 @ 8:34 pm

  9. Meanwhile these two websites provide information and links which take the greening of the planet very seriously.

    Comment by Daffy Duck — May 7, 2013 @ 8:49 am

  10. I didn’t say cap and trade Rhonda! That is open to all sorts of clever rorts!
    And why would any sane person open the door to an additional 140 billions impost, collected as money for nothing, carbon brokerage fees?
    I did say cap and tax!
    The cap is progressively lowered, and only that emission above the cap accrues any penalty!
    The accompanying tax, starts very low, but, becomes progressively more punitive.
    People are given time to progressively and affordablely adjust or simply eventually go broke!
    Which might be the only way to stop the self indulgent recalcitrant, from simply adding to the problem!
    Some things like steel making are as much a chemical reaction as they are about burning coal. And the only way to lower the carbon creating outcome of this and other similar metal smelting industries, is via the direct reduction method or arc furnaces.
    Arc furnaces consume quite massive amounts of electricity.
    So, if your system is coal fired and requires miles and miles of transmission lines? Any real reductions are hard to find or largely illusionary.
    However, if we changed over to cheaper than coal thorium, and placed all these industries virtually next door to the power plant, we’ed halve the total carbon these and similar industries create.
    We’d even be able to consider, high energy usage, light metals smelting as brand new inland industries, given the amount of salt required, using the proposed model. We have plenty of salt in our inland.
    If that then results in some foreign own coal fired power station needing to close, because they’ve lost their biggest customers; and or, they can no longer compete in a completely open and free market, that would be no bad thing?
    Positively agree with ending all forms of welfare for the better off and transferring it to still unmet real need! Ditto all subsidies!
    Besides, fixing the tax system will do much more for our so-called aspirational citizens, miners, manufacturers and farmers, than the crumbs from the captain’s table.
    Or, almost anything else we could set up for the entrepreneurial risk takers, that we also must have and encourage.
    Let’s face it Rhonda, we have enough natural wealth right here in the lucky country, if equitably shared via truly cooperative enterprise, to make every man woman and child living here, virtual millionaires.
    I’m not saying we can actually or should do that, just create an equal starting point, that would allow every man woman and child, to aspire to far better living standards, than their parents!
    And we clearly can achieve that, with our quite massive resources, even with zero population growth.
    As for being more generous with our foreign aid.
    Who is able to be more generous, a Warren Buffet? Or a Sydney pensioner, eking out a miserable existence in a bed-sitter?
    It’s a useful analogy, inasmuch as it tells us, we can do far more for others, if we first fix our financial problems and address need right here at home.
    Our aid can be far more generous, if it is delivered from a position of financial strength, rather than still unmet need, right here.
    And leaving unmet need still undone right here creates a model for unrequited unrealistic hate?
    And here I’m not canvassing reducing our current miserable pittance foreign aid, just fixing unmet need right here, before we start expending our foreign aid programs.
    Which need to be far more generous, if we would but see a billion extremely impoverished go to bed, with at the very least, a full belly, rather than interminable hunger pangs!
    And yes, it does have to be self help, [trade not aid,] rather than never ever ending charity.
    Self help and education programs, will do far more than simply handing out billions by the bucket load!
    And if we have to fund NGO’s, rather than corrupt sovereign governments, we should at least try that.
    I mean, if our aid simply becomes bullets to further enslave or decimate whole populations, then that aid has to cease.
    The people will be no worse off, inasmuch as they can’t eat ammunition!
    Given carbon pollution is a global problem, helping the poorest to transition to carbon free alternatives and stop cutting down what remains of already decimated forests, would do as least as much, as having China or India, go completely nuclear?
    And if would also have the effect of every dollar doing double duty.
    Fighting hunger and want, and carbon pollution!
    As for food sovereignty, we can do far more to address that by being pragmatic enough, to move much of it to where the water is, rather than spend trillions, we simply do not yet have, trying to move water to area where the food is.
    Very rapid rail links would also allow farmers to move their produce far more rapidly and while still fresh.
    We do need to encourage more farmers market and local production, rather than import inferior foreign food.
    Sure fuel subsidies should go, but we also have to stop actively discouraging entrepreneurial farmers, from developing on farm self self-sufficient fuel supplies, biogas, bio-diesel etc.
    And there is no way we can continue to import 85% of our fuel needs, particularly, when the locally available conventional alternative, produces 75% less total carbon, from well head to harvester!
    That is more of the insanity that has created climate change, and at far faster rates, than we can effectively address, or catch up with
    . Locking up part of the solution, at the behest of multinational oil companies, is surely part of the problem?
    Cheers, Alan.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — May 7, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

  11. sorry, Alan, that was a slip of the fingers. Cap and tax is much better policy.

    Gradually I am turning against both foreign aid and the ngo industry. With Bjorn Lomborg and yourself, I think r&d into renewables, and helping countries get off the tit of aid and corruption is a better option.

    Local high quality food and small scale industries to value add are what the groups here are about, and I support that. I hope they can get to the point of having employees rather than volunteers, also.

    I am now seeing many of my friends with self managed super funds having 80 or 90K per year tax free. That doesn’t seem right to me, and not just because I have chosen to be outside that system, and am taxed on every cent I bring in. Most of my deductions go straight to the entrepreneurs and small business people of the next generation, in the form of repairs and maintenance to properties. I get taxed on what’s left, and that seems fair enough and is adequate for me.

    I think you should stand for an elected position, as you speak common sense and express yourself well.

    Comment by ronda jambe — May 7, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

  12. Stand for Parliament Rhonda?
    I’m not sure I have that much courage?
    Perhaps I’d find a prison or lunatic asylum somewhat more comfortable.
    I mean they have TV’s, coffee making facilities, libraries, gyms, three square meals a day etc.
    The only real problem with prisons/asylums are the people one might have to share them with?
    And then I ask myself, would someone like me notice any real difference in any of our parliaments, apart from the clientele being better dressed and better paid, and perhaps distinctly less honourable!
    I mean, it’s said if you want a friend in politics, get a dog.
    Apart from that Rhonda, nobody but nobody is ever going to tell what to think or how to vote.
    I mean, I was threatened with court Marshall, for refusing to follow orders.
    I believe parties ought to be composed of like-minded individuals, at least intelligent enough to change their minds, if that what the evidence indicates.
    I also believe the mark of true intelligence is the capacity to hold two completely countervailing positions in the mind, and give equal weight to both.
    And quite frankly Rhonda, one doesn’t see very much of that in politics, which to my mind, seem top heavy with ideologues and or tow the line party hacks, none of which are my kind of people!
    And none of who seem able to actually contemplate change or genuine reform.
    Both of which require considerable courage of conviction and powers of persuasion, which I believe, are beyond my limited abilities; but particularly, when it comes to, say or do anything to win, politicians!?
    I do however thank you for your nice thoughts, the get you almost anywhere flattery, and the compliments you pay me.
    Cheers, Alan.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — May 7, 2013 @ 4:09 pm

  13. alan, i was not dismissing need to act; just indicating that too much emphasis on economic matters has tended to prevail in past.

    I am in favour of change, but not sure how we are going to go about it given recent policies, including in Aust, are merely more of the same.

    Comment by Chris Lewis — May 14, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

  14. Chris has hit upon a key problem – the reduction of every issue to a market and a price. A professor from Harvard was talking about that on Lateline recently, and said it distorts our conversations away from values and responsibilities. Paying inmates to read might be just the trick in Brazil (apparently a great success, and there are strings attached) but all we are hearing in the leadup to the election is money, money, and more money.
    Goals for the future, strategies for getting there (like cutting out middle class welfare and the baby bonus, just two that spring to mind) are missing.

    Also missing is a good hard look at what has and hasn’t worked in public policy, and being honest about admitting it and moving towards something better. The mining tax needs fixing, but who is addressing that?

    Comment by ronda jambe — May 14, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

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