On the numbers game, the number 5 and wishes for a brilliant tipping point in 2013

20 December 2012 – We’re on track to a massive 4-6 degrees warming. If this isn’t enough to put a rocket up our collective backsides, then take a look at Leon Gettler’s devastating article on food security. It’s one of the most poignant things you will read. Gettler’s article is so powerful because what he’s talking about is immediate and personal. And maybe  primal. Food is like that.

Here’s the quote Paddy Manning chose to use at the recent launch of his book, What the Frack, on coal seam mining – it’s  from Julian Cribb’s book, The Coming Famine:

“Over the next 50 years farmers will have to double the food supply using half the water on far less land, with increasingly depleted soil, without fossil fuels, with increasingly scare fertilisers and chemicals amidst spreading disease and pests and under the hammer of climate change.”

On the balance of things, next year could well be the year that saves us.

It’s a numbers game.

Look at the odds: all those thousands, millions of people, knowing the science, believing the science, but getting on with their daily lives because they feel impotent to change anything, or think it’s too far away to concern them now.

It’s not so far away any more.

With the news that leaked and then poured out on our prospects in recent weeks, imagine a growing number of those people thinking well, we’ve got nothing to lose, let’s go for it. A domino effect.

Look at who all those people are: ordinary workers, managers, media people, powerful corporate types, bankers, property owners, community activists, government officials, politicians, maybe really rich people.

What if they all slowly stir, as if from a long and lingering slumber. Call it fairyland, or the rabbit hole, where Alice lives with her silly climate-denying friends and those bottles they drink to make them feel “really big” or “really small”.

Imagine them coming out to the daylight.

Reaching the tipping point, the number 5.

We named this publication The Fifth Estate because after all the other estates that belonged to the clergy, the aristocracy, the commoners and the media, it seemed the right time for an estate that belonged to all of us – the planet.

Mmm nice number, that 5.

If there is a tipping point on guns in the US, then anything is possible.

On Thursday Fairfax Media posted all the photos of all the members of the NSW committee, most from the gun lobby, who rejected tighter gun controls.

Transparency is a powerful tool.

Already the thought leaders say there could be a tipping point on climate action.

Buildings are in the front line of that action. They produce 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in this country. Property is the front line of the tipping point.

All the focus now is on energy efficiency.

We heard last week from Brookfield Multiplex’s chief sustainability man Professor Dennis Else on why his company is the biggest private sector contributor to the Co-operative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living at the University of NSW.

There’s money in it. And it makes sense, he said.

Can you think of a more powerful combination of forces?

When you think about it, if it “doesn’t make sense” the venture will collapse in the long run. Like any Ponzi scheme.

Our extraction of the earth’s fossil fuels and methane gasses has made pots of money for the west for a long time. But it doesn’t make sense, because the cost is too high.

Think about how much money is locked into energy efficiency in buildings. Hidden just behind a small lock that a child could prise open.

In one of the most mind-blowing conversations all year, Craig Roussac, ex Investa and now with his own outfit, Green Buildings Alive, coolly claimed that it is not outside the realm of possibility to make existing buildings almost carbon neutral.

GE says that by saving just 1 per cent of energy across the world’s aviation, gas fired power stations and trains we could save $123 billion in energy.

Now when has GE ever stopped at one per cent of anything?

Let’s mull over a tipping point this Christmas holiday period when we get a chance to reboot our brains and our feelings, with luck. Come out of the rabbit hole and blink in the sunshine and realise that luck is what we make it.

Let’s get lucky and work like hell to save this place. It’s kinda nice after all…Better than that strange underground palace with those crazy head-lopping queens and jewels and treasures that disappear before our eyes.

You think 2012 was hard?

We ain’t seen nothing yet.

But it’s like the old fable of the three men breaking rocks.

One is exhausted and defeated and tired. He’s just breaking rocks. And it’s hot and he’s hungry.

The other is breaking rocks for eight hours today and then he gets to rest. He gets pretty good pay and for four weeks a year he goes on holidays, so it’s kind of OK.

But the third man, he’s energised and happy and can’t wait to do the next day’s work.


He’s building a cathedral.

Happy Christmas and Happy Holidays and a great New Year.

From all at The Fifth Estate – our writers, contributors, freelancers, part time subs, and to all the people who dip in and out of our humble home and sometimes linger longtime.

We’ll be back mid January.