Grifonaut - James McDonald

STILL UNDER DEVELOPMENT Blog, Art, Photographs

Month: January 2020

Australian bushfires and climate crisis triggers

One thing people need to understand about climate change is that it is not a steady or gradual change. There are both peaks and troughs in temperature and other measurements of environmental change, such as the growing proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and its impact on warming. Other gasses are even more volatile in that they are more efficient in contributing to the heating of Earth.

The candidate for the most dangerous to climate stability is methane – the gas that is short-lived in comparison with CO2 but nevertheless a trigger for catastrophic warming – that demonstrably leaks from fracking. But with the melting of the Arctic, methane that has been sequestered on the bottom of the seas in the Arctic circle is blooming [bubbling to the surface] in, for example, the Siberian Sea as water temperatures rise. The melting of the tundra in Siberia, Canada and Alaska in turn is creating further emissions of both methane and CO2 that has been sequestered in the frozen ground for millennia.

Thus, there are feedback loops that can exacerbate trends with a greater speed of change in the records locked in ice and the geological record than before the dinosaurs. One of the key indicators of human industrialisation has done to the balance of our planet’s systems is the relatively rapid increase in CO2 levels in the atmosphere [let alone other forms of pollution].

One factor associated with climate change – longer, hotter summers, for example – has meant dryer forests, conditions that work against safe hazard reduction, and the growth in the incidence of major bushfires in Australia during the past 40 years or so. But this is not exclusive to Australia.

Indeed, as this article points out, the phenomenon of massive bushfires is part of a worldwide trend that adds dramatically to the release of CO2 into the atmosphere. Other recent reports from NASA indicate that the particles thrown into the air by the massive smoke clouds from our fires will circulate at high altitude for some time to come, perhaps another factor that could help an acceleration of the climate crisis.

On a political note, governments must be held accountable not for the fires themselves, but for their failure to plan for the crisis that is upon us all, as fire service funding was cut by the NSW and Federal Governments in their denialism of responsibility to ameliorate the effects of the inevitable.

Australia lags most of the developed world in government initiatives on the climate crisis and has defied OECD criticism on inaction, using paper accountancy as a substitute for policy that involves real action. You have to ask why, because it seems crazy. And the reason lies in the toxic corruption of democracy and elected representatives in the pay of the public purse whose campaigns are funded by coal, oil and gas industries.

Where are the food security plans and the plans for lowering the carbon cost of food distribution to address the challenges of the climate crisis? Where are the water allocation and preservation plans, with the Murray-Darling plan sabotaged and struggling to deal with the direct and economic extremes of climate change, affecting farming? Where are the incentives for sustainable industry and energy? Where are the government plans at all levels for dealing with accelerating sea level rises from the waterfront estates of Queensland to the suburbs of Melbourne? Where are the plans for efficient low emissions public transport both rapid interstate and intrastate rail and in our huge urban areas? These absolutely necessary plans are abandoned for Adani, other coal mines, resistance to decommissioning coal power stations, and the fossil-fuel stained pockets of the Liberal, National and Labor Parties. It is not merely tin-eared stupidity as successive governments have ignored the scientists, it is corrupt idiocy.

The contribution towards a succession of climate crisis triggers could rest in the environmental impotence of platitudes, token targets, and accountancy evasion of responsibility, the unforeseeable impacts of a plethora of natural responses to global warming and the toxic negativity of climate inaction promoted by the corporate greed of corrupting corporations, and especially their irresponsibility and recklessness towards consequences. The anthropogenicity of our climate predicament remains apparent to those whose world view is governed by the empiricism of science rather than the imperialism of capitalist generated opinions and denialism.

For a comprehensive and accessible account of the link between climate change and Australia’s fire crisis read “The facts about bushfires and climate change“.

James McDonald
14 January 2020

Morrison finally commits serious relief for exhausted volunteers – isn’t it a bit late?

I watched Morrison announcing the involvement of military infrastructure this morning on the ABC.

My first response was: isn’t this a little late? The fires have been raging since September. The fire authorities have been warning about catastrophe for a long time. And the scientists even longer ago warned of the danger of extreme fire events as elements in the pattern of climate crisis, which is no longer expected 20 or 50 or a 100 years into the future, but faces Australia here and now. Serious fires are burning in every State in the country.

The Government is funded by taxpayers, the men and women often struggling on 2 or 3 jobs just to make ends meet, while this loathsome and disloyal Regime continues to attack workers and their families, giving a free hand to business and corporations by destroying the union movement to exploit Australian workers in the name of neoliberal deregulation and ideology.

Morrison, his Ministers and the the Government backbenchers are not doing what Australians pay them to do – look after and protect the country and its people – while Dutton undermines our civil liberties and violates human rights.

It is extremist politics and not the welfare of Australians, which they ignore, that motivate the Dutton-Morrison Regime. One of those areas of negligence lies in the pig-headed refusal to acknowledge the evidence before their myopic eyes of climate crisis, its effect on hundreds of communities, and threatening Sydney . We reasonably expect that government heeds the almost universal scientific concern about emissions, the escalating evidence on the continent of global warming and its effects, and the imperative to plan and develop strategies for the conditions that it is already bringing.

A Government that puts the welfare of its people and the national interest first would not have failed to notice that Arctic forests are on fire, California has suffered wildfires into the beginnings of winter, Spain and Portugal have had a second season of intensive bushfires, the Amazon is ablaze, Madagascar, South-East Asia – that there is a global fire crisis and Australia is probably the most vulnerable of all to disaster from bushfires.

Do not the the Tasmanian fires that decimated old growth wilderness only last year, the Dunally fire a few years ago and the 1960s fires that killed over 60 people a generation ago on Hobart’s outskirts, or the fires that ravaged a Canberra suburb in Morrison’s own time as an MP, have any impact on this tin-eared failure of a leader?

These fires are unprecedented in their ferocity and scale despite examples from the distant and near past. The Black Friday fires of almost a century ago in Victoria and the fires along the Great Ocean Road to the west of Melbourne and Geelong that in 1983 dropped ash and burnt leaves into the backyard of my suburban home in Melbourne over a hundred kilometres from the fires as the crow flies, were ferocious. Have these shysters forgotten the disastrous Black Saturday fires in Victoria in 2009?

Good governance would have generated contingency planning for another summer of projected record heat. The fact that the fire season can now be marked down as commencing in September, would alone have prompted a competent and responsible government to develop urgent national strategies with State fire authorities to deal with looming potential disaster.

But not the Dutton-Morrison Regime. Their priority is serving the coal and gas mafia, and re-engineering the nation into an authoritarian place of repression, inequity, violated human rights, diminishing civil liberties, asset-stripped services, and arcane religious “protection”. It is a Regime that denies its responsibilities to deal with real measures needed at a national level to ameliorate the effects of climate change and to develop strategies to handle the extreme events that this summer has generated.

Instead, the burden of lazy government relies on unpaid volunteers, often men and women in their middle age, to fight around the clock to protect lives and properties while Morrison announces platitudes and reacts late to events on a scale that should have had the military and reservists on standby months ago. His priority was to clear out to Hawaii for a holiday.

The nation is in a state of prolonged crisis that extends beyond the challenges of this fire season. It cannot afford the dissociated incompetence of minimalist government that sidelines the welfare of the people for venal obsessions, serves a corrupt relationship with the most wealthy and especially coal and gas interests at the expense of the rest, and observes the ideological nonsense of challenging science.

The disloyal and subversive Dutton-Morrison Regime is failing its obligations to the nation. It is at the heart of a national crisis and they have again failed the test of democracy and service.

James McDonald
4 January 2020

While the nation burns: where is the planning for climate crises and catastrophe?

A national state of danger has existed for months and it is only now that the Prime Minister, who cleared out to Hawaii as the disaster built up, announced yesterday a goddam meeting by the Federal Government: “The National Security Committee of Cabinet would meet on Monday to address ‘contingencies’ required for the current fire season “as well as the longer-term response and some issues we have identified to consider amongst premiers after the fires”.

Why it is the National Security Committee of Cabinet [NSCC] that is meeting is not clear. Why is Morrison trumpeting the meeting of the National Security Committee of Cabinet? Is the LNP Government finally recognising that the greatest challenge to the security of the nation is the mounting extreme weather events associated with the climate crisis and that the massive bushfires represent one of the threats of climate change to national security?

I doubt there is a positive answer to this question. The purpose of the NSCC is to consider:

… major foreign policy and national security issues of strategic importance to Australia, border protection policy, national responses to developing foreign policy and security situations (either domestic or international) and classified matters relating to aspects of operation and activities of the Australian Intelligence Community.

National Security Committee, https://www.directory.gov.au/commonwealth-parliament/cabinet/cabinet-committees/national-security-committee

National disasters do not appear in the official objectives, which relate mainly to foreign policy, terrorism, national security and organised crime. The Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, is not even a member.

To put it in no uncertain terms – the Federal Government’s response to the conflagration in every State of the nation marks the incompetence, inadequacy and perverted priorities of a morally corrupt government that long ago abandoned the function of governing for the national interest and the welfare of the people, instead governing for coal and polluters that keep the LNP coffers full of dirty money.

That incompetence, the reluctant involvement of this do-nothing Federal Government, and dereliction of responsibility is part of a vile ideology that subverts democracy in every way and fails the nation and its people. But you expect that from a government whose official policies violate human rights and undermine civil liberties

It is why Morrison’s Regime has no planning for what has been evident for years – the visitation upon the Australian landscape of disasters the scale of which have never before been seen, a situation about which the scientists and fire chiefs warned these tin-earned denialist coal flunkeys.

The slow response of this sociopathic Regime to the bushfire crisis raises a number of questions:

Why is it only now that any meeting of the Cabinet is being called after another weekend of projected emergency when fires have ravaged areas of the country since September demonstrating the need for urgent upscaling of planning and funding?

Why hasn’t the ADF long since been put in the field – after the devastating September fires – to assist exhausted volunteer firefighters confronting the present catastrophe when soldiers are trained in civilian disaster support?

Why has this government consistently denied responsibility in planning for the climate crises, of which fires are only one, accompanying climate change that the science bears out?

Why is laziness the defining characteristic of this government that only acts when it thinks the polls are turning against it?

The anger Morrison faced at Cobargo in New South Wales was met with platitudes in the midst of the wreckage from the conflagration: “Asked whether his response to the crisis was adequate, the Prime Minister said now was a time to remain calm.”

He has attempted for ideology’s sake to normalise the damage of these unprecedented bushfires, that are part of a global threat evidenced in Californian wildfires, in Portugal and Spain, in the Amazon , and in the Arctic. In some cases significant fires have been deliberate actions, often sanctioned by governments – mankind exacerbating the crises that 300 years of industrialisation, transportation and urban emissions have contributed to in the unprecedented rapidity of increased CO2 levels.

It is time to rid the nation of this scourge of malevolent incompetence in government for while individuals can make decisions to cut their personal carbon footprint, the solutions to the global scale of climate crisis are only solvable by nationally and internationally decisive action. And that seems to be unforthcoming among the plethora of platitudes in international agreements to do as little as possible, or nothing at all in the case of Australia. And that is a measure of the demise of political morality that is destroying the future.

For me, political morality has to do with satisfying the ideals of democracy, especially the principles – and processes incorporating those principles – of social justice, equity, equality before the law, government for primarily the welfare of the people, active application of human rights, which have been codified by the United Nations, of civil liberties, which encompass these principles that maintain the dignity of all, and State support for the more vulnerable, the poorer and retired citizens. To this I would add: protection of the environment as a resource for the people, sustainability to pass on the benefits of natural, social, and technological resources, care for consequences in husbanding all these resources, and protection of the national interest against incursions by other nations. These are not the characteristics of the present misgovernment of Australia.

James McDonald
3 January 2020

Sadness at Australian fires and anger at Government denialism

As an Australian living overseas, I weep quietly in sorrow at the destruction to forests, communities, the animals, the loss of life. I read of places burned that I know well from Southeast Queensland, around Sydney, to Mallacoota and Gippsland in Victoria where I was born. For me this picture, which has been repeated in California, the Iberian Peninsula, and wantonly in the Amazon by crooks and corrupt government, is a devastating effect of Governments that are too deliberatively incompetent for us to allow them to continue to destroy our world.

I am not only overwhelmed by sadness: I am angry. We are seeing in my view the trigger switch for disasters to come and the world’s governments prevaricate and negotiate what are emerging as meaningless and impotent emissions targets. And then there is the maliciously corrupt and destructive antics of the Fool in the White House and the morally corrupt Republicans behind him, funded by corrupt corporations and a fossil-fuel mafia, that ushers in the new fascism of extreme capitalism in demolishing any government agencies designed to protect the continent.

In Australia, the same subversive forces are at work under a morally corrupt Regime that actively denies the climate crisis, and attempts to normalise the enormity of this disaster. It has no food security plan, for that would be to acknowledge we are in trouble, while allowing large-scale sell-off of our best land to foreign corporations that are proxies for the authoritarian regimes in China and the Middle East.

Australia is now a climate change pariah among the rogue governments that refuse to act because they are bought out by the polluters. That the NSW Government cut funding for fire services in the face of the scientific advice, the alarm of fire authorities, and the evidence before their very eyes of the series of rising average temperatures is gobsmackingly idiotic, corruptly irresponsible, and malevolently incompetent.

As for food security, the Federal Government’s record on the Murray Darling Basin is one of pushing back against scientific advice, permitting the cotton industry, which they allowed to be sold off to foreign interests, to appropriate huge allocations of water squeezing out the food producers and community water needs, idly allowing the devastation of natural wetlands and the the Menindee Lakes system leading to the death of millions of fish, and presiding over corruption.

To expect these flunkeys of the coal industry to be prompted into serious evaluation of the effects of extended summers and burnt landscapes to plan for the eventualities of ongoing climate crisis is foolish. Expect from them only that they will continue to exacerbate the damage done to agriculture by longer hotter summers and fire.

I’m not suggesting that anything could have been done to prevent these fires unprecedented since European settlement. But Australian people have voted in Governments that deny climate change and act against the national interest and the welfare of the nation.

These neoliberal regimes have failed to do what they are paid by the taxpayer to do – prepare the nation and the environment for the crises of which the scientists forewarned us, initiate sustainable practices and programs to ameliorate the effects of climate change, and to protect communities from the overwhelming natural effects of three centuries of obliviousness to the damage we have collectively done to the planet’s atmosphere and the land.

The time is arriving where the people must throw out these incompetent and corrupt fools by whatever means possible. They are destroying Earth and all upon it.

James McDonald
1 January 2020