I’m boiling mad! There’s a lot to be boiling mad about in this mad world, but in this particular instance, I’m boiling mad at the right-wing Australian government. In particular, how they have blood on their hands from the out-of-control fires raging there. Slashing public funding for essential services was a really bad idea. Now, I’m not an Aussie, but I know a bit about right-wing governments, because we had one here in New Zealand for nine years, and public funding got slashed left, right, and centre while they held the reins of power. And then the Prime Minister got a knighthood for it. Not sure how he scammed that, but his adoring fans – those he had made even richer during his tenure – then adored him even more.
No government is exemplary, but all right-wing governments are a disaster waiting to happen. Right on cue, the Australian right-wing government has brought disaster to their land. No, they didn’t light the fires that are currently raging uncontrollably there, but they turned them into a disaster of biblical proportions. Which, is right up the Prime Minister’s, evangelical Christian alley. I bet there’s some serious praying going on down there in the church right now. Still the fires burn, though – Scott Morrison’s god must have turned his ears off.
Australia is a country prone to bushfires – you can count on them like clockwork – yet the Australian right-wing government thought it was a good idea to cut funding to the rural fire service. Then they decided that they didn’t need to listen to any of the rural fire chiefs, who felt that better fire control methods were imperative. As in, not just nice to have, but imperative. I mean, it was just going to be annoying for the government, wasn’t it, to have to listen to things that they didn’t want to hear.
If a government is going to sell tax cuts, lower government spending, and more individual responsibility (aka: you’re on your own) as its ticket to power, then public services are first in the cutting line to achieve this. It’s a no-brainer. Except that the spin that right-wing governments put on it doesn’t include spelling this out to the public whose public services are going to be cut. The last thing the government will then listen to is any essential service asking for more money, to do silly things like keep the essential service ready to serve.
Like any right-wing government, the Australian right-wing government is a climate-change denier. No scientist has been able to penetrate that wall of denial so far – until maybe now, when the country is going up in flames, and the Aussie people are spitting with fury about it. A few reluctant mutterings about it have finally been heard from the Prime Minister’s mouth, which amounts to too little, too late. Fires have always been a feature of Australia, but for years scientists have warned that increasing temperatures and increasing drought conditions brought on by climate change will exacerbate them. Looks like they were right – and right a lot sooner than most of them actually expected.
People have died, homes have been burned to the ground, and the wildlife is suffering immensely. One and a quarter billion animals of all varieties are estimated to have been horrifically burned to death so far. Farm fencing trapped both farmed and wild animals. The ones who have survived have no food left to eat, and are starving to death. Money is pouring in from around Australia and from around the world to aid in medical care for burned animals who have survived, and food drops for the ones still in the wild. I know of someone who is going out to the country with some other people just to shoot those animals still alive, but beyond help, with death being the kindest option. Not an experience that will be easily forgotten, I imagine.
Deservedly, fossil fuels are getting the blame for exacerbating climate change, and Australia is a big producer of fossil fuels – i.e. coal. The trouble is, we can’t just turn of fossil fuel production right now. The global economy relies on it too much – our whole world is based on transport with fossil fuels. That’s not to say that the production of alternative fuels doesn’t need to be stepped up as of yesterday, but it’s a long switchover process.
The United Nations has identified four things that we as individuals can all do right now that will have the fastest impact on mitigating the harm from climate change, rather than wait for snail-paced government action. Most of us would find it difficult to do all four things, but most of us can do at least a couple of these –
- Have no, or fewer, children
- Avoid air travel
- Be car-free
- Eat a plant-based diet
Which ones will you choose?
PS: Here’s a chart which shows how long different gases stay in the atmosphere, from the time they get there – http://chartsbin.com/view/2407
Some brief bullet points from that chart –
- Carbon dioxide from fossil fuels will stay in the atmosphere for another 200 years if emissions stopped today
- Nitrous oxide from fossil fuels will stay in the atmosphere for another 100 years emissions stopped today
- Methane from animals will stay in the atmosphere for another ten years if emissions stopped today