Monday, November 25, 2013

People demand action on climate change!

Vanguard December 2013 p. 8
Bill F.

(United Firefighters Union Federal President Greg Northcott told the Adelaide rally: "There are no climate change sceptics on the end of fire-hoses!"

On November 17th hundreds of thousands of people in cities and towns across Australia demonstrated their continuing demand for more concerted action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The rallies were held just days after the World Meteorological Organisation(WMO) released data showing that the volume of atmospheric CO2 grew faster in 2012 than in the previous decade, reaching 393.1 parts per million (ppm), 41% above the pre-industrial level and well above the nominal ‘safe’ level of 350ppm.

Another report from the Warsaw conference on Climate Change pointed to a 26% increase in ocean acidification due to the absorption of atmospheric CO2.  This will threaten the viability of many shell species – corals, clams, crabs, prawns, scallops and mussels, and further reduce the stocks of tuna and anchovies.

According to the UN Environment Programme, by the year 2020 greenhouse gas emissions are predicted to reach 8-12 billion tonnes over the level required to keep global warming below 2 degrees, and could reach that point in just 40 years.

These most recent reports are bracketed by the massive bushfires in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales and the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines (where it is known as Typhoon Yolanda) - more evidence of extreme weather events hitting our part of the world, more evidence of global warming.

Multinationals motivated by greed

The only way to make a significant reduction in Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions is to phase out coal mining and export, together with the use of coal and gas for electricity generation.

These industries are largely owned or controlled by US, European and Asian multinational corporations and are financed by foreign banks and shareholders. They are motivated by greed and vehemently oppose any restrictions on their ability to increase their rate of profit. They want to expand their monopoly business into even more polluting ventures such as coal seam gas and brown coal exports.

These champions of capitalism hate competition. In fact, they bankroll selected politicians (and pseudo-scientists) to discredit and de-fund alternative sources of power generation, such as solar, wind and geothermal.

They will not be stopped by timid irritations such as an emission trading scheme (where they can pass on the costs) or a carbon tax (where they can claim generous offsets). Certainly, Abbott’s so-called ‘direct action’ scheme of handing over tax-payers’ dollars to favoured enterprises isn’t going to worry them.

A different kind of ‘direct action’

A government that truly represented the interests of the people would regulate greenhouse gas emissions like any other toxic or polluting substance, issuing licences with set limits and heavy penalties for violations, including “three strikes and you go to jail”.

In the end, however, the only guarantee of making a transition to clean energy is to nationalise the mining and power generation industries and place them under the supervision of the working people.

Instead of shipping profits and dividends overseas, these could be channelled into funding the construction of large scale base-load solar power stations for the cities and smaller clean energy power sources for regional and remote areas.


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