Greta Thunberg, the 16 year old climate activist from Sweden who has been nominated for a Nobel peace prize

News from the Front Desk issue 427: Occasionally we look at The Oz. Just two days after the Reserve Bank of Australia declares the climate emergency is an economic emergency, this propaganda mouthpiece for the traffickes of coal and fossil fuels runs a piece of vitriol against children fighting for their future in global school strikes on Friday.

The author, conservative businessman Maurice Newman, says these kids are just pawns in a war against capitalism and the establishment.

He says they are unable to make up their own minds about what they can see for themselves: the polar vortex in the Arctic spinning out of control, methane spewing out of the melting tundra, Australia disrupted on a now regular-as-clockwork-basis by flooding, drought, bushfires and now sick and dying river systems.

All the while they’re fed a daily visual digest of the agonising deaths of cattle and native fauna, not to mention the emotional and financial suffering of our food producers, the farmers.

In the US, the protesting kids are taking their concerns to Californian senator Diane Feinstein and supporting the Green New Deal. They can’t vote yet but when they do they will only vote themselves into serfdom, mocks Newman. Serfdom? In the US?

Has he seen how many jobs the lowest paid people there have to work to feed and house their families? Has he observed that systemic poverty where the working poor is a normalised environment is making its way to Australia?

There is the eroding arms of government under a small taxes/small government ideology that shrinks public services and in Australia leaves consumers with loads of laws and regulations in banking, environment protection and building, but almost totally unprotected when it comes to compliance or auditing of these industries.

Ironically (or not) the tax department itself is so under resourced it struggles to catch tax cheats that are much better resourced and domiciled in the Bahamas.

We digress, but only for a bit.

The problem is that Newman is terrified that fighting climate is a communist/socialist plot, because it speaks of equity and logic and evidence based decision-making. And most threatening of all, co-operation.

Because let’s face it, the defenders of the status quo are somewhat lacking in desire for the above. They ignore science and say black is white.

There is a lot to love about a freewheeling free enterprise system if it works (and if you’re on top), but it’s not exactly capitalism, is it?

It’s more like an oligopoly (Google, Apple, the Murdoch Press, Coles and Woolworths and so on). True free markets just don’t manage to survive successful big corporations: they fall into line instead.

Newman and his ilk don’t support an evidenced based equitable system but an ideology instead. One that flies in the face of reason and science, and says climate change is not true. It spreads fake information instead – such as that renewable energy is the reason energy prices are high.

Newman says this and goes on to bemoan the high cost to energy for the poor without mentioning that the extreme weather is the reason they need more energy to stay comfortable and without mentioning any number of salient facts such as the short pay back period on solar and so on.

But the thing that seems to conveniently escape him and that his publishers must surely know by now is that the climate emergency will actually attack and hurt capitalism every bit as the poor.

In fact it will be far more vicious on the establishment than any bunch of kids or climate campaigners will ever be.

It’s true that many climate campaigners want some tweaking of the system. For instance it’d be really nice if big corporates that make poisonous products, unhealthy food and gives us destructive energy and urban environments to stop dominating the system and give the rest of us a chance to operate in a very much free enterprise free wheeling kind of way.

And if some of these enterprises end up being collaborative and kind to their fellow humans, in a co-operative kind of way, then is that such a bad thing?

Well to the big corporate supermarket giants, maybe yes. (Maybe Newman has a point.)

In parts of Europe we hear the development of co-operatives and locally organised economic enterprises is regarded with suspicion, as something next to anarchy. Hmmm. So big highly organised corporations that screw their farmers and pay 3 cents in the dollar for milk (or whatever) are fine; anything else is a communist plot. Got it.

To save the planet and ourselves (ideal right?) we maybe need a bit of true free enterprise, where initiative and purpose and reward (personal/financial/alternative value based) can mix it up with a nice dose of caring for our fellow humans and the planet.

Indigenous people say we need to care for country and we need to care for kin and everything else looks after itself. We don’t think the people responsible for this mess we’re in actually do that.

Like in the #Metoo movement, these traffickers of pollution probably didn’t realise decades ago how damaging their behavior was.

They need to know now. No excuses. Pell has gone to jail. Those who murder our planet need to be on notice.

If you want to know what some of the most powerful conservative capitalist forces on our planet are saying about climate change, hold onto your hats and check out these highlights. (Spoiler alert: the financial markets and regulators are absolutely and utterly concerned and still looking for solutions; that’s where we need to step in.)

The Fifth Estate needs your support to continue our work.
Become a member and help keep sustainability journalism strong and independent. Choose your level of support, from $20 a month! Or make a one off contribution. It all helps us bring you the stories that will help “fast track sustainability” in all its iterations.
Click here

In his speech at the Centre for Policy Development on Tuesday, RBA’s deputy governor Dr Guy Debelle said the impacts of climate change would be serious enough to change the way monetary systems need to be managed.

Among a series of observations and cautions Debelle notes:

  • The insurance industry has recognised that the frequency and severity of tropical cyclones (and hurricanes in the Northern Hemisphere) has changed. This has caused the insurance sector to reprice how they insure (and re-insure) against such events (Australia might soon have 850,000 properties that can’t be insured, according to Karl Mallon of Climate Risk).
  • There is strong evidence that another half degree of warming will occur in the next 10 to 30 years if warming continues at the current rate
  • There is also likely to be significant volatility around that outcome, with an increase in the frequency of extreme temperatures. These extreme events may well have a disproportionately large physical impact
  • There is also a greater possibility of compound events, where two (or more) climatic events combine to produce an outcome that is worse than the effect of one of them occurring individually
  • Both the IPCC and the BoM/CSIRO reports highlight the changed environment that the economy will need to adapt to

And in further observations around the top end of business, companies are falling like ten pins into the climate concerned camp, worried about the financial impact and their future. Along with that goes completely anarchic and revolutionary concepts such as better concern for social outcomes and social responsibilities. Even purpose.

Newman doesn’t worry about any of that.

Nor does he worry about whole parts of Australia where ordinary people will be severely impacted by being forced from their livelihoods because of changing weather patterns, or because the places they grew up in have become unbearable.

He also hasn’t twigged that without a viable planet it will be impossible to conduct any sort of economic order at all.

Sobering thoughts Newman. So stop attacking the kids and start protecting the system you claim to want to defend.

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Join the Conversation


Your email address will not be published.

  1. great article again Tina – and you are in high company:

    Another ‘tragedy’ is the co-opting of some (most) of our brightest minds into the ‘sustainability’ space, without understanding the capitalist paradox of ‘greening’ their extractive and polluting businesses – leaving their mess to others to clean up – our schoolchildren!
    Christopher Wright’s book ‘Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: processes of self-destruction’ nails this on the head. Note the words self-destruction.

    1. Thanks Nick! But just came back from the schools strike and felt at turn highly emotional and excited about the hope and innocence of these kids, then sad as I checked the newsfeeds to see the Arctic is now on a warming cycle, regardless of whether we keep to the Paris agreement.
      This is now the emergency our kids are calling. So sick of the ideological rubbish that protecting the traffickers of coal and fossil fuels

  2. Nothing a child learns in their 13+ years of schooling is more important than understanding the environment and how to protect it.*

    *except for capitulation & compliance, if you’re a politician