City Hub

There are none so blind…

Climate change across the world - and in Australia - has well and truly begun. Photo: M Fillinger.

Opinion by PETER HEHIR

What does a burning Koala clinging to a eucalypt ablaze in the Blue Mountains, have to do with a brand new diesel-powered SUV with just the driver on board, travelling in air-conditioned comfort at 80 kilometres an hour in a WestConnex tunnel under Ashfield some 100 kilometres away?

Is there a causal relationship? Even a distant one?

Diesel-powered vehicles produce exhaust gases that are not only carcinogenic and seriously impact the health of inner-city residents when released through the unfiltered exhaust stacks, but they also contribute significantly to the greenhouse effect that is steadily and relentlessly warming and blanketing our planet and playing havoc with our climate.

Each and every day the excavation and transportation of hundreds of B-doubles lumbering along the City West Link, loaded with a staggering tonnage of WestConnex sandstone spoil also make a significant contribution to local air pollution and add a little bit more to global warming.

As do the exhaust gases from the thousands of kilometres travelled daily by the many hundreds of John Holland and CPB diesel-powered contractor vehicles journeying to and from the massive sites at White Bay and Victoria Road.

Not to forget the generators, tunnel boring machines, excavators, rock breakers, pile drivers and other heavy equipment that also burns tonnes of diesel on each of the WestConnex sites twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

And the energy expended in producing and transporting the hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of concrete poured into the tunnels. Tunnels owned by multinationals who rip off billions in tolls from ordinary Australians and will continue to do so for decades to come.

Even people who chase cows, ride around in massive diesel-powered machinery, spray pesticides and grow stuff – the backbone of the National Party, are becoming ever more pissed off with the inaction on climate change.

It can’t be pleasant watching your life’s work go up in smoke or to lose a loved one or a whole family in the more frequent firestorms, to have to shoot livestock because they are reduced to hide covered skeletons due to extended periods of drought, to see rivers that have flowed for millennia dry up, or have your crop cross-pollinated with genetically modified canola from the thousands of acres of multi-national owned fields just across the road. Then be sued because your natural crop became cross-pollinated by the few bees that remain, or see the acid rainfall on some of the Hunter Valley’s best vineyards, courtesy of the area’s coal-fired power stations.

Making Change 

ScoMo dithers, Joyce babbles on about shooting methane belching cattle and Elbow (if Albo is acceptable then why not Elbow?) “has been criticised for his sustained strategies of attrition and omission”, to borrow a few polite words penned by Katherine Murphy in The Guardian.

The Union movement has been on about the transition from fossil fuel to sustainable energy for some years now, exhibiting a forward-thinking mindset, steeped in the recognition that climate change is an undeniable fact.

This is something that the super-rich ultra-conservative naysayers in their CBD ivory towers still refuse to accept, even though on days where the temperature inversion level is so low, they can barely see the adjacent penthouse just a hundred metres or so away because of the concentration of smog.

The Unions are well aware that moving from one energy source to another will require a clear direction and a smooth transitional path for their members, in order to have those who are currently digging up, stockpiling and transporting the coal, the time to acquire the skills necessary to produce the infrastructure needed for any and all of the dozen or more sustainable and proven means of non-polluting energy sources, and so be able to continue to provide for their families.

The suggestion of nuclear power pedalled unashamedly on Fox News is idiotic, the brainchild of the brain dead. Chernobyl, 3 Mile Island and Fukushima clearly demonstrate that.

Not only is there no incentive in the transport industries to move away from diesel-powered vehicles, exactly the opposite has happened. Even in Labor-controlled Victoria, there is a tax on electric vehicles!

If ever there was a sign that those in power just don’t get it, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better example.

Leadership loss

If either of the major parties were at all serious about climate change and the impact that fossil fuel has on the smog that blankets the CBD, on the quality of the air that we breathe and the food that we eat, then surely sources of sustainable energy would be readily embraced?

If they cared at all about the health of the present population and of those who will inherit the whirlwind, if they spared a thought about the rapid extinction of thousands of species, not just here but right across the world, then this begs the following questions:

How can this be? Why is it so? Is it because politicians are inherently stupid? That myopia is a fundamental criterion of entry into political life?

Hardly.

They can see all too clearly that their own political survival relies heavily on the donations from those who make the most obscene amounts of money from raping the environment and ensures that they will be subsequently (if they haven’t been already) generously rewarded for selling us all out.

So is it any wonder that the young are totally disillusioned with politics and that almost all politicians are viewed with such contempt?

In the game of politics, much like the board game Monopoly, he or she who holds the most money is the winner. With little to choose between them in terms of policy, it therefore means either Tweedle dumb or Tweedle dumber will carry the day.

There is a connection between the charred trees and the blackened carcasses of our wildlife, the disappearing insects and frogs, the mania of population growth and indeed of growth itself.

Most of us can see that. I think we all know why our leaders can’t, or rather, won’t.

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