Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Angry Summer: 205 Records.


"If you thought the weather over this past summer was off the charts, you weren't imagining things". (The ABC's Radio Penny Timms)
The Climate Council of Australia just released its report "Angry Summer 2016/17: Climate Change Supercharging Extreme Weather". From Timms' story:
"The summer of 2016/17 has been dubbed the 'angry summer' by climate scientists who've been investigating just how extreme things got.
"They've found that during a 90-day period, 205 weather records were broken."
This little app was included in the ABC's Online News story (click under 2030):

While I'm alarmed, I can't say I'm surprised.

The Federal Government's reaction? "The Federal Energy and Environment Minister declined to comment."

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A few years ago the term Anthropocene, popularised by Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen, became a buzzword among environmentalists (you know, those "death cultists" keeping Very Serious Clintonite economists awake at night). The idea is that human-kind is having lasting impacts over the biosphere (it has "caused mass extinctions of plant and animal species, polluted the oceans and altered the atmosphere"). Without denying its basic point, it's not an uncontroversial term, for several reasons.

David Ruccio is among those objecting:
"Human beings have, of course, transformed the planet from the start of agriculture and the beginnings of class society. But it is as a result of the rise of capitalism that the most significant changes—from rising carbon dioxide levels, population growth, and consumption—have been produced.
"The real question for the International Commission on Stratigraphy is, should the geologic timescale be changed to include the Age of Capitalism?"
He proposes, instead, the extremely ugly, but perhaps more appropriate Capitalocene.

It may be just me, but I find it a reasonable proposal.

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Meanwhile, the official position of the Australian environmentalist party, the Australian Greens, is that capitalism has no consequences whatsoever for the environment. Its current federal leader, senator Richard Di Natale has said:
"Of course the Greens do not support the overthrow of capitalism or any other ridiculous notions of the sort."
Why such an outburst?

Former Greens leader Bob Brown answers that:
"People say two things to me: what a good fellow Richard [Di Natale] is and when is Lee [Rhiannon] going. NSW voters have often told me they won't vote Green until Lee goes."
It's a matter of sacrificing principle for electoral expediency. Brown believes leftism and Rhiannon are holding the Greens back politically. Di Natale aims to make the Greens a Very Serious party, cautiously centre-left, attractive to liberal upper-middle class voters. Rhiannon, who once upon a time was a Commie, defends the right to exist of a grass roots movement, Left Renewal, promoting such unthinkable things as:
"The Bernie Sanders experience in the US shows that people with radical and anti-establishment policies can win mass support. How the Greens inspire people to join with us and vote for us is our challenge in 2017."
To me, Brown's stance seems particularly ironic, as he was the first openly gay Australian politician, promoting same-sex marriage, on top; still, he was supported by the Greens in a time when that may have held the Greens back.

Even on its own terms, that expediency seems self-defeating. Greens' non-threatening (or spineless, depending on your perspective) "good fellow"-style leadership won't be enough to erase the "death cult" image Very Serious economists have of them. And it doesn't seem to be working with the Aussie public.

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