Change the only way forward

April 09, 2018

Are we driving into the sunset of our way of life as we know it?

You, me and almost everyone else in the Goulburn Valley are criminals, that is if we accept the premise found in Unprecedented Crime: climate science denial and game changers for survival.

Authors Peter Carter and Elizabeth Woodworth argue this as they explore what will happen to our world if we fail to heed warnings of our scientists, particularly those with knowledge of our climate system.

They argue that the human rights of people over much of the world are being sacrificed to rising seas, extreme weather events, and loss of crops.

‘‘At this juncture it is clear that our systems of economics and government are miserably failing to address this planetary emergency,’’ the authors write.

A quote from the book says: ‘‘A 2015 study in Nature estimated that by 2100 unmitigated global warming will leave GDP 23 per cent lower than without warming.

‘‘Stanford University lead-author Marshall Burke commented: ‘We’re basically throwing away money by not addressing the issue. We see our study as providing an estimate of the benefits of reducing emissions.’

‘‘Indeed, global development and deployment of non-combustion technologies would be the greatest boost the world economy has ever seen.

‘‘It would mean full employment worldwide and huge investment opportunities.’’

La Trobe University Professor Robert Manne, who is recovering from a recurrence of throat cancer and has had his voice box removed, wrote in his new book, On Borrowed Time: ‘‘We know that if we continue to use fossil fuels as our primary energy source, the conditions of life on the Earth for our own species and for others will be damaged perhaps beyond repair.

‘‘And yet, eyes wide shut, the nations of the Earth are doing very little to avert the impending, entirely foreseeable catastrophe.’’

Even Pope Francis noted the travails of climate change in his 2015 Encyclical saying, ‘‘Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.’’

And just recently Shepparton’s Greg Barnes, who led a course on the history of religion at the city’s University of the Third Age, told a group meeting in the Maude St Mall that along with the Catholics, all the world’s other major religions had unequivocally accepted the reality of human induced climate change.

A small group sitting Beneath the Wisteria heard those sombre facts, while less than 100m away many more gathered for a combined churches Easter celebration seemingly unaware, and unconcerned that their lifestyles were intimately and intricately entangled with what it is that threatens the climatic conditions under which humanity has not only survived, but thrived.

Although different in intent, both groups were similarly implicated in the worsening of climate change with the former admitting that its behaviour was not without fault and as Clive Hamilton wrote in his seminal work, Requiem for a Species, they had, like most others, a ‘‘psychological unwillingness of the character type produced by consumer society to recognise the necessity for material sacrifice and even the existence of limits.’’

So, both groups, in an abstract sense, were party to this ‘‘unprecedented crime’’, the smaller group aware of its shortcomings, while the other deep in its Christian celebration appeared oblivious to the unfolding catastrophe.

Rob McLean is a former News editor.

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