Cheeseburger Gothic

A land, once mighty, now in thrall to pissants and cowards

Posted January 15 by John Birmingham

Not that I want to change the Burger into the Climate Change Blog, but I do have this piece running at The New Daily which compares the strange disconnect between the Right's rhetoric on military preparedness, with the same people's rhetoric on a more immediate existential threat.

Modern Australian pointlessness is much less benign. Currently it is most often and most destructively used in arguments that, because we’re so small and so far away and because our greenhouse gas emissions are such a tiny fraction of the global total, it would be futile, damaging and even dangerous for us to contemplate unilateral carbon disarmament. Our carbon emissions keep us strong. We cannot afford to give them up before anybody else.

It’s a rubbish argument.

Oddly enough the same coal-fired demagogues are never backward in coming forward when the chance arises for Australia to make a contribution to some military adventure in which our token company of special forces or nominal contribution of an AWACs aircraft is framed as a vital commitment to burden sharing, or alliance management, or saving the world from whatever sub-Bond villains are currently choosing to menace it with forty-year-old Kalashnikovs from the dusty backstreets of far away Absurdistan.

You can read it here.

25 Responses to ‘A land, once mighty, now in thrall to pissants and cowards’

jason puts forth...

Posted January 15
Two responses.

When people talk about the fact that our emissions are pretty small I counter with this argument: If everyone else in your street beats their partners daily and you only beat your's on Saturday it doesn't mean your doing the right thing or that you cant help. It's up to you to stand up and set an example and show people a better way.

We are missing out on an awesome opportunity to steal a march on the whole world follow this link to see why https://insidestory.org.au/here-comes-the-sun/

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insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted January 15
The argument that countries 5 to 30 in the emissions levels banding together to make something significant happen is a powerful one.
There's another country even closer to the arse end of the world that intends to do its bit even if it is a small one, which is why I will never not be a New Zealander.

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Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted January 15
Clear salient points, I struggle with how I respond after pointing out this disconnect in the persons thinking and they still don't seem to even reconsider their point of view. How to we progress when as fundamental aspect of the discussion as logic/reason isn't persuasive.

andrew reckons...

Posted January 15
Tragically, in a world of bullshit, where truth and falsity are irrelevant, opinions are formed tribally, entirely on the basis of the feels.

IMO the best chance of a good outcome is to appeal to these folks' profit motive, and keep pointing out how much money is to be made exporting clean energy and the products of free energy.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but reason and facts aren't working.

jl mumbles...

Posted January 15
Good piece. Appeals to the wallet are usually the most effective. And BTW forty year old Kalashnikovs are pretty new. I've got a picture of one made in 1948, perfectly good working order.

she_jedi mutters...

Posted January 15
I think a lot of the denialism is driven by fear. They really just don't want to believe the science, because they don't want it to be true. If it's true then they have to change the way they live and work, and people as a collective are resistant to change. And I think our messaging has been a bit arse about over the last decade too. Instead of pointing out the Mad Max style apocalypse we can all look forward (and as of this summer in Australia, experience), we really should have been pushing the mega dollars and technological transformation we could wring out of a zero carbon economy, and tout the new industrial revolution we could kick off if we only had the courage to grasp the nettle. That bullshit line the Coalition ran on Labor coming for your utes and your weekend was a classic example of how we should have been pointing out the amazing shit we could do with electric vehicles 2 elections ago, instead of reacting to a line of total bullshit by a party of deniers.

jl ducks in to say...

Posted January 15
You're onto something, Jedi of the She. Look at the sweet electric vehicles Musk and co. are producing, and how the US Big Three are climbing aboard. They can see the writing on the wall, and they want to keep making money. Ref: Wall Street Journal articles this past month. LOL moment? GM plans on re-introducing the Hummer line under its GMC brand, only this time it will be electric instead of an insanely inefficient 10mpg lump of steel.

she_jedi mumbles...

Posted January 15
I'm not going to lie, Elon Musk's CyberTruck was batshit insane looking, but I fucking loved it. I'm confident that I'm on my last ICE car, a much adored Mazda CX-3, and when it's time to replace it I'll be looking at whatever the electric equivalent is Mazda produces. They already have a prototype out that looks pretty schmick (not CyberTruck levels of bold, but you can't have everything): https://www.mazda.com.au/cars/mazda-ev/

Matthew F. would have you know...

Posted January 15
I'm with you SJ, we're buying another car this year and the plan is for a full electric - we like the Hyundai Ioniq so far but who knows what the market will look like by the time we have our bucks together?

Have you seen this firm in QLD who do electric conversions, and even sell kits so you can switch your burner to an electric yourself?

https://www.ozdiyelectricvehicles.com/

They make the point that the best cars for conversion are the smaller, older cars you can get for almost nothing nowadays, and that you can recoup a lot of what you spend on one by selling the engine you won't be using any more. I've caught myself once or twice trying to run the numbers on whether one could run a business buying up those older cars, electrifying them and selling them on again. (I'm nowhere near handy enough to get under the bonnet myself but I could be the silent partner/front office guy.)

she_jedi puts forth...

Posted January 15
I did not know about electric conversion kits! That's so cool! That's also a neat idea for a business too, because surely a market would open up for cheaper converted junkers for those who can only dream of a brand new car, and would contribute to the removal of ICE cars from our roads (and provide a transition path for low income car owners when petrol stops being a thing). I too am completely non-handy mechanically, but if you could partner with a good mechanic your idea would definitely have legs (and a front office/sales guy would be essential) :)

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Naut swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 15
I liked it

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Moko is gonna tell you...

Posted January 15
I'm not really convinced it's an immediate existential threat everyone seems to think it is, but I haven't looked into it either. I drive a 2 ltr turbo. I don't burn shit in the back yard. Happy to consider renewable energies. I sue those fucken green bags from woolies and forget to take one so Ive got like 74 of them ... Yadda yadda. Got other shit keeping me awake at night, and honestly, a comet (metaphorical or meterorical (coining that one for future use) landing on the species would do the planet the world of good (accidental pun fun).

Moko ducks in to say...

Posted January 15
*use those...

jason asserts...

Posted January 16
Lets make a deal. You buy Green Power for your house and that's all you need to do. Then you can rest easy knowing you did your part. Better yet, invest in solar. Saves you money in the long run and you have done your part.

Mark Duffett mumbles...

Posted January 16
Sorry, but I don't think that is all one needs to do, remembering that only a third of Australian electricity is used in households. You might not be using the other two thirds directly in your house, but you're likely as dependent on the industrial edifice that does as anybody. All the energy embodied in absolutely everything in your home, all the electricity being used in the businesses you patronise, the hospitals, the food refrigeration and on it goes, all comes from that other two thirds and it's got to come from somewhere. And that somewhere has to be paid for...by all of us.

jason would have you know...

Posted January 17
Agree, but as far as personal action goes, if you aren't prepared to storm the barricades then this simple action will cover you.

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Chrisg ducks in to say...

Posted January 15
Fantastic article, I have shared it with many Hoping it hits home

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Dirk mutters...

Posted January 16
Unless the house of one of the politicians in power burns down, or worse, probably nothing is gonna happen. Which is a shame.

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Mark Duffett has opinions thus...

Posted January 16
Funnily enough a kind of mirror image piece appeared in Quillette a couple of weeks ago, pointing out the strange disconnect between the apocalyptic rhetoric of many on the Left and the same people's fussiness about the modest half-baked climate solutions they're prepared to countenance.

https://quillette.com/2020/01/02/false-humility-will-not-save-the-planet/

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Matthew F. puts forth...

Posted January 17
Maybe this is just my own confirmation bias but I'm noticing a growing trend in among the "how do we make these people get their shit together" and "how do we turf these people out and put in people who have their shit together" of "fuck it, we go around them".

What workable ways are there to go around them?

We've done enough sitting around being angry for one another. We've done more than enough pounding on the door demanding action from people who just laugh at us. What are some things we could do from the ground up that will have a purple-faced spluttering Scummo on the phone in a year or two screaming "what do you fucking mean 'they went and did it themselves'?"

Dave W asserts...

Posted January 17
I'd expect Scummo to be claiming credit for it- as in "the Australian people are very happy that the Government has created the conditions for meaningful action by the private sector...".

But I do worry that the ground-up stuff is well understood, and has been done to a large extent. I'd love to know how the bypass option can be of a magnitude to be meaningful but doable by private citizens.

she_jedi would have you know...

Posted January 17
The only way to go around the feds is to get the states to just get on with it themselves. Which to be fair they're starting to do. We need to be applying pressure on our state governments to act. Prior to the carbon price NSW was developing its own carbon pricing scheme, then abandoned that when Gillard introduced the federal one... and we all know how that ended.

The Guardian is already calling for Smoko to be circumvented in order to save the planet: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/17/if-the-bushfires-wont-force-climate-policy-change-we-need-to-circumvent-scott-morrison

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Halwes puts forth...

Posted January 17
Australia's major greenhouse emissions come from exported coal. I think that the government needs to be honest and say that, as our second largest export earner, if we stop exporting coal then the living standards in this country will plummet for a while until we can think up something else to export like hydrogen etc. If Australians, even feel a blimp in their living standards they will cry like babies and wont back any sort of greenhouse gas reduction in my opinion. Also, unless you are charging those new electric vehicles with renewables then you are not going to reduce greenhouse emissions one iota. This especially with the huge greenhouse gas load of producing the things in the first place ie mining, manufacturing and disposing of batteries etc. Probably less greenhouse gas in keeping your old cars at least until they are no longer serviceable. I am always willing to be corrected with facts though.

she_jedi ducks in to say...

Posted January 17
I'm curious, mainly because I don't know, how much of our coal exports actually contribute to the standard of living of the average Aussie. Coal is our second biggest export after iron ore, so contributes enormously to the country's bottom line, but we're also subsiding that industry to the tune of $12 billion a year. While shutting down the coal industry would have an impact on the standard of living of coal workers and the towns they live in, would it really impact the standard of living of the rest of the country? And wouldn't this be where a just transition come into play, to help transfer those workers to other industries and careers, so that their standard of living doesn't collapse. Something like, I dunno, a renewable energy industry?

I read an opinion somewhere that we could shut down the coal industry completely, give all the people working in coal at the moment (all 37,800 of them) $100k a year for the rest of their working lives, and the budget would still be better off because that $12 billion subsidy would no longer be required (eg, we'd have change left over after paying the former coal workers. It's not like any coal mining companies are actually paying tax in this country). I'm not an economist so I can't comment on the figures, and it was an opinion, not verifiable fact. But when we talk about going 100% renewable in our energy production, there's nothing stopping us from going 150%, 200% or 300% renewable, and exporting the excess energy to Asia. Which Twiggy Forrest and Mike Cannon-Brookes are already looking at doing with a solar farm in the NT. How can we get the average Australian to vote for that sort of economic transformation instead?

Halwes mumbles...

Posted January 18
Very interesting thanks. I didn't know much of what you've stated at all. I'd really be interested to know what the impact of a cessation in coal mining would actually be. The trouble is that the 37,800 people spend their money in towns that support coal mining operations. The figure is much higher when the service industry populations of these towns is factored in. Labor and the Greens were very stupid when they suggested shutting down the coal industry with out transitioning their economies to other industries first. The people there were faced with intergenerational unemployment and massive devaluations of their houses. It's not hard to guess who they would have voted for. I think that renewably generated hydrogen is part of the answer and that solar panel renewables are also a bit of a false economy / carbon saving. The greenhouse gasses that are generated in the manufacture of panels are fairly high. Also there are starting to be large piles of used panels, usually lower price and inferior components, that need recycling. The average Australian that you refer to is as dumb as crap in my opinion and will always vote according to whatever their hip pocket nerve feels like so the transformation will need to be cheap and to not affect their lifestyles. Too many people make too much money from fossil fuels. It's raining now and the climate change deniers will be out in force until the next drought. Hopefully we can elevate the discussion and really start levelling with each other. I can't take too much more of the political double talk. Australians are incredibly polarised politically and this issue will not be discussed intelligently until a bi partisan approach is taken.

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