Monday, July 21, 2008

Are You With Me?


I am a simple soul. I am not well-read, well-versed, intellectual or scientific. I don't speak about things of which I am ignorant . .i do research things about which I am interested. I don't mind admitting that I don't understand things and I'm happy to be educated and elucidated by others who are well-informed. I'm happy to hear the opposing point of view and I hate wanton consumerism and waste. However, when the issue turns to "Climate Change" I get my Thrifty Pants in a twist. This has now gone beyond a sensible solution to global warming and has become a 'business', an electoral issue, a token gesture that will fill the coffers of industry and make governments popular. It really has little to do with the environment.

The climate is changing . . the jury is out as to whether it's a natural phenomenon or caused by increasing carbon emissions. My theory is that simple overpopulation and over consumption will be this planet's demise rather than carbon emissions, they are simply a part of the problem. Not that carbon emissions don't need to be tackled, a quick look over the Sydney basin on a winter's morning will tell you that the air is nothing like it was 20 years ago! Dive amongst the outer corals in the Whitsunday's and you'll see the effect of warming oceans. Ask the residents of Naru how long their paradise huts will stay on dry land before the encroaching ocean makes them uninhabitable or the Polar bears raiding rubbish bins because the ice flows no longer provide a bridge to their normal hunting grounds. Oh yes, the globe is definitely warming!

My simple response . . clearly anything we can do, to reduce population, reduce pollution, stabilise industrialisation, manage waste and restore some balance must be done.

We are huge consumers of everything and with consumerism comes planned obsolescence and waste. We have forgotten the taste of home grown tomatoes and how to butcher our own food. We need 'things' - microwaves, appliances, outdoor rooms with $3,000 barbecues, V8 vehicles, electronica, swimming pools and movie stars . .we're all a bunch of Beverly Hillbillies drunk on the affluence that has dogged the middle class, western lifestyle. We think that McDonald's is a food group, that home delivery a necessity . . .we hunker after new fads and fashions and don't care that Nike are using forced labour in Malaysia or that our diamond engagement rings are subversively mined in war-torn African nations . . .wait a minute . . .S-T-O-P. . .the hypocrisy is swimming around me as I type in my economically candle lit abode (saving energy on lights and they smell nice). Of course I like nice things, a warm house, a beautiful pool, air conditioning (well actually I haven't got aircon but that's a triviality). I live in a two-car family . . I own a fridge, a washing machine and I'm sitting here right now in front of a Dimplex which is warming my toes when a pair of socks would do the same thing. But I am not an over consumer . . . just ask my kids! And life is not difficult. But if I was rewarded for my efforts, what an incentive that would be!

The Australian Government has announced it will go ahead with a carbon trading scheme commencing 2010. The problem? We don't have the details. It will involve higher taxes and penalties for over use but I cannot for the life of me find the detail in this policy anywhere, even on the Government website.

This is all I know about how it will affect me as a householder, apparently the Government will:
  • Cut fuel taxes on a cent for cent basis to offset the initial price impact on fuel associated with the introduction of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. The Government will periodically assess the adequacy of this for three years and adjust this offset accordingly. At the end of this three year period, the Government will review this adjustment mechanism. If anyone can translate this, please email me at bainbridge1610@gmail.com.
  • Increase payments, above automatic indexation, to people in receipt of pensioner, carer, senior and allowance benefits. Other assistance measures to meet the overall increase in the cost of living flowing from the scheme will also be provided to this group. Because apparently they are too stupid to reuse, recycle and we all know that old people spend far too much time driving around town and languishing in a hot shower! Excuse me for being cynical but would this have something to do with placating older Australians who within 25 years will form the majority of the population?
  • Increase assistance to other low-income households through the tax and payment system to meet the overall increase in the cost of living flowing from the scheme. So poor people don't need to be 'green' or concerned about environmental issues because they'll be compensated anyway?
  • Provide assistance to middle-income households to help them meet any overall increase in the cost of living flowing from the scheme. Again, what does this mean? Provide an 'incentive' to live green, not compensation for energy used.
  • Review annually, in the Budget context, the adequacy of payments to beneficiaries and recipients of family assistance to assist households with the overall impacts of the scheme.
  • Provide additional support through the introduction of energy efficiency measures and consumer information to help households take practical action to reduce energy use and save on energy bills. That's more like it. But I want to know how.
  • About 1,000 businesses that emit more than 25,000 tonnes of carbon a year will be required to buy permits and monitor and report their emissions. What businesses?
  • Once a cap is set, carbon permits per tonne will be auctioned with a price set by the market, with the aim to create an incentive for businesses to decrease emissions. Excuse the cynicism . . but this might just work if investors back it
OK I'm all for reducing my carbon footprint, but why do these initiatives always involve punitive measures. Why did the Rudd Government take away the subsidy for solar panels? Why aren't I rewarded for having one of the lowest water bills in the country or my own inbuilt sewage treatment system - I pay the same rates as someone who is connected to the sewer and can pollute willy nilly! Why aren't I offered an incentive for low energy use, growing my own veg, planting trees (not necessarily on my block but throughout the shire). Why don't I receive carbon credits for having a shit load of oxygen producing gum trees that are the bain of my life or purchasing an economical vehicle Why don't I get a subsidy for my low energy appliances?

It shits me that 'taxpayer' funded schemes like this are imposed and subsidies for the poor and aged are put into place because apparently they're too stupid to conserve energy. If I was an aged pensioner reading that, I'd be incredibly insulted to think that the Government doesn't think I'm capable of reducing my carbon footprint! The Government site on the issue is full of broad policy statements and no detail and we're expected to embrace this by 2010 . . less than 18 months away.

Another problem . . will this ever win global support?

Like I said, I haven't thought through this or really researched it in any depth yet but . . .on the surface, it seems like another popularist policy with little substance and another one that will hit the hip pocket of working Australians whilst industry carries on as it has through 7 years of drought without water restrictions whilst we've been washing our windows and cars with a face cloth dipped in a bucket of rainwater.

Don't get me wrong. I am happy to reduce, reuse, recycle but I would prefer an incentive to do so rather than a punitive across-the-board quasi-solution that still allows industry to pump shit into the air. Where are the wind farms, the solar panels, the alternative energy solutions . . I'd drive a car fuelled by the local chippy . . I dunno . . Like I said, I'm a simple soul and if I can't afford electricity or light . . well I'll have to light a bloody bonfire and look what that did to the industrial cities of England in the 30's and 40's. The Opera House will look mighty fine covered in black soot. Are you with me?



20 comments:

laughingwolf said...

it's all political bullshit and tax grabs, as you know, baino

yes, the planet IS undergoing climate change, like it has for millions of years...

yes, 'humanity' is CONTRIBUTING to it, but not to the extend gore and his fellow morons claim!

and yes, those of us who consume less, should be compensated for it, not punished, like you say.... grrrrrrrrr

Thriftcriminal said...

On the public front it is an excuse to shove a hoover nozzle into your pocket. On the private front, well, that's where the fun will be. Of course it could go the route of creating a market for lot's of energy efficient things and great ideas like solar panels etc. It could do that. But the really successful companies wont sell anything as prosaic as lumpy objects. No. They'll sell a feel good factor to the masses, offset your carbon, let us plant a tree. We could plant a tree ourselves, but get feck all for it. Hell, obese people should probably get carbon tax credits for sequestering carbon. but no, that wouldn't be money flowing in the right direction. It'll be huuf and puff and branding and PR and the result will be we will end up worse off, and the corporations will end up better off (with a few brown envelopes to your local representative.

Fuck them all, follow the route of energy decent on a local level, check out http://transitionculture.org/ for more info. Look at local solutions, because local is all we are going to have once the black syuff gets too pricey for you and me.

moon said...

It's a really tough subject, and I, like you, know that we are effecting the planet, no way can we not, with all the polution, using energy like it's a commodity we will never run out of. I don't get too involved in politics, I just try to do small things that if everyone did, would make a huge difference. I don't drive a 8 litre car, I switch off lights, I NEVER use plastic bags in supermarkets, and obviously, with Mrs M Solar panel business, we are making a difference.

Sadly, ALL policticains use it as a vote winner, tax money earner...

the price of petrol here is a huge thing, well sod them, I think it should go up !. it will get people out of daft trucks and into more eurpeand styled cars..... this debate will go on long into the night !

Gledwood said...

I heard a thing about office skyscraper-style buildings being built in the form of termite mounds nowadays apparently they use a mere 10% of the air-con leccy of an ordinary building...

if I had my "ideal home" it would be designed to run totally without electricity (because I suspect it's going to get VERY expensive and we're going to be getting way WAY more outages in future)

you can get brilliant light-conductor things that will bring natural light down into a basement by means of mirrors... I'd have all that stuff, plus the termite-stylee vertical cooling passages

I think it's scary just how much we're dependent on electricity as much as anything else

v scarey indeed!

ps thanks for your message about Olive I only found it just now but it's the thought that counts, as they say....

hey Olive, what's to say! She had one hell of a good innings!

all the best 2u as ever...

El Grando Retardo said...

This is just overwhelimingly too too funny.

Quickroute said...

There's a lot of 'official' green initiatives that are nothing more than lip service. It's a shame all right that there's little or no motivation or acknowledgement for those who do make the extra effort to look after the environment. Not much sign of things changing in the near term.

Lehners in France said...

Brilliant post! Who says global warming wasn't goint to happen anyway? We cut wood for winter, it's re-growable. We grow veg and keep chickens for eggs and just for the pleasure of having them. We limit car journeys and don't do "presents!" We make do and mend.

Sadly all of these celebs who are harping on about global warming are undoing what we are doing with their huge carbon footprints. We do wear the extra socks and fleece here when it's minus sixteen. Debs x

ian said...

Baino,

I hope fresh-faced young Kevin is not using climate change as a means of raising tax revenues. You probably saw the figures that showed that China actually overtook the US as the largest generator of carbon emissions in 2006 and has no intention of scaling back.

Baino said...

LW that it may be but I still get angry at energy wasters, something needs to be done to look after this planet I just don't think the focus should all be about carbon trading.

Thrifty: I agree with the 'local' idea. And you're right about prosaic energy saving devices although we will be forced to switch to energy saving globes by next January (which for me means refitting 70% of the downlights in my house, the rest already have them. The abolition of subsidies on solar panels was just madness!
Thanks for the link, very interesting.

That it is Moon, I've resisted getting into it too deeply on the blog for fear of raving and writing too much. Our petrol prices are huge although not yet as high as the UK. I wish the US would raise theirs and think more responsibly about waste and consumption.

Gleds, the thing is the technology is there, alternative energy is there and in a land where the sun shines just about every day, natural light and heat are a 'given' It's shortsighted to only look at fuel consumption and carbon emissions. All the best to you to matey, stay on the straight and narrow!

Retardo . . you're a spa . . be sensibubble or I'll have to clip you round the ear!

Quickie if everyone here is in agreement then maybe we should be starting at the 'bottom' so to speak .. affirmative action at the ground level rather than waiting for governments to reflect what we're all thinking anyway!

Debs, I'd love to be more self sufficient. You sound like you have the ability to be so which is great. It's as hypocritical as Nike paying Tiger Woods 22 million a year and their clothing outworkers $6 a day!

Ian that's another problem with this initiative, Kev wants it to go global and while we flog our resources to China to ENABLE their pollution, the Aussie public will be paying the price both in energy cutbacks and the cost of living. Another case of the mouse that roared!

Ryan said...

Sorry wanted to add some more:

I still love the fact that people criticise V8's when they can return the same if not better fuel economy than a medium sized car. I am currently averaging 8L/100 on freeway and 10-11L/100 around town while my mum's 6 cyl family sedan of the same model and manufacturer is returning 14-15L combined usage. If i drive it like a hoon i can see anywhere upwards of 17L/100 but driven normally with the advances in engine management these big V8's can be very fuel efficient. Keep your eyes peeled for the next series of Holden Commodores complete with AFM or active fuel management, which will shut down 4 cylinders when not needed (ie cruising) to save fuel.

However in spite of this I agree with you Baino, more needs to be done to provide incentives for people to think green rather than to be compensated for hardship. Classic example is water restrictions, I can't beleive we have relaxed them again after people are so used to saving water! Keep them tight and let's save as much as we can. We will thank ourselves in 5, 10 and 50 years time.

Baino said...

Good point Ryan and I know you don't 'hoon' in the V8 (do you?). True with the water restrictions although I have a pressure hose (Karcher) and during restrictions I wasn't allowed to use it but I could hire a 'professional' to do the same thing for around $85 an hour! I'll never for the life of me understand why the water restrictions were relaxed and that stupid desalination plant is guzzling energy being built to supply what . . 15,000 households! Plain Iemma stupidity.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm, I'm throwing in a comment after a hectic day. It's too late already! The environment will look after itself. Sell your homes. Change your money for gold coins. Wrap a stash of alfalfa seeds in plastic. Educate yourselves on how to live off the land with nothing to begin with but the barest of essentials. Be prepared to grow alfalfa from urine. BAH HUMBUG!

Baino said...

Anony, man cannot live on alpha alpha alone but hey, back to basics sounds good to me. And my grass never grew greener than when fertilised with piggy poo . . .Nimbin here I come! Now where are my car keys!

laughingwolf said...

you are right, but HOW do we get THEM to conserve... when they have NO interest in doing so?

Nick said...

I agree entirely, over-population and over-consumption are much more the problem than carbon emissions. What's the point of people recycling a few bottles or switching to low-energy lightbulbs at the same time that the world's population is rocketing and having as many children as you like is our basic human right? And at the same time as we're all buying more and more and forever chasing after the latest fashionable accessory? As you say, that's what will finish us all off.

GayƩ Terzioglu said...

I'm with you!

Bimbimbie said...

Yeerp I'm with you Baino it's going to be just another hand in the wallet yet again whilst big business can purchase a government license to trade their way out of polluting excessively and perhaps plant a few trees to try to make up for our natural forests that are being torn down, chipped and shipped overseas whilst our government tells Indonesia
not to destroy their rainforests and we sell coal to China ... but we would like them to actually not use it ... hypocrisy rules here only we spell it Rudd because he comes from our smart state.

Oh and what about the tv adverts have you noticed how everyones product is all of a sudden doing wonders for the environment ... I'd scream only my throat is still a little sore ;)

Baino said...

LW I could write reams on this stuff. It really frustrates me that people are genuinely trying to either reduce their carbon footprint or do the right thing environmentally such as conserve water! I really believe that it has to start at the bottom, there are still so many 'waster's out there who aren't thinking about their future or that of their children. My son is almost resolved to not having Children because the world is fucked . . now that's sad!

Thank you Turkish Delight! There is a way to combine creature comforts with good policy . . you and I should rule the WORLD!

Nick, I feel I'm preaching to the converted here (except maybe Ryan but he doesn't pay any electricity bills yet) It's so simple to reduce your consumption, shop smart, reduce, reuse recycle. Sadly, it often takes a dramatic event for people to take notice. Interestingly, I notice this week that the major airlines are turning to biofuels. Another hot bed of contention but we'd be willing to grow sugar till the cows come home and we've got the space to do it.

Bimbimbie, you live in a lovely wild place so knowone knows pristine landscapes as well as you. Absolutely with the environmental adversising. I even saw one recently for some four wheel drive that made it out to be an environmental wonder . .disgusting.

Look everyone. I use electricity, I have a pool with a pump (but I can also let a helicopter suck water out of it to put out bush fires) and I use a washing machine and oven and yes it's cold her now so I crank up the heater but when I compare energy bills with some of my contemporaries I'm horrified. My water bill is less than $120 a quarter (no we don't smell). My power bill is small compared to the McMansion owners, I buy fresh and minimal packaged goods, I drive my car 6kms a day and service it regularly so that it's conservative, I nurture ducks and cocky's and wildlife. We recycle our sewage into the garden, I don't use plastic shopping bags, I turn my fridge down in the winter, I don't have a stack of unnecessary appliances . . that's something everyone can do. My main guilt . . I drink a lot out of glass bottles! Do you know how much energy THAT takes! *runs fingers through hair and has a little lie down*

There will be more!

ashleigh said...

Its all bollocks.

The climate might be changing but its its human induced will not be known for another decade or more.

Certainly in the last 5 years the planet has been COOLING (do some more digging).

Why this govt would want to cripple the country and impose a bunch more taxes when they are rolling in lolly is beyond me.

Like you i've planted hundreds of trees and get sod-all recognition for it.

I also hate waste, frugally heat my house, use few incandescent lamps,and I'm pale green. But I'm also incandescent with rage at the nanny state banning the bulb, and imposing a carbon tax that will shift jobs and industry offshore.

A recipe to even further make Australia into the worlds mine. But a diversified economy with multiple industries and sources of wealth for its citizens looks even further away than ever, and its never been all that good.

AAARRRGGGHHHHH. Fuckwits.

Baino said...

Ash . .no argument from me here . . Whilst I'm in principal a democratic socialist, I'm not totally in support of the nanny state. I'm not a backer of human induced global warming but am an AVID supporter of reduce, recycle reuse and a reduction in wanton consumerism. The carbon tax issue is still open to public objection. Hit the Govt. website and vent your spleen. To me an many others, it's now become a commercially viable commodity. You wait, it'll hit the stock market in a blink . . .maybe we should be buying shares on the fear index!