We were being kind in our editor’s letter on Tuesday. Almost optimistic.
We said 2030 was the critical year. It’s not. It was, oh… around 1970. Or maybe 1980 when the oil companies got together, did research and realised the earth was not flat, it had a curve ball aimed straight at our foreheads. They buried the news, befuddled, grabbed the narrative and turned it 180 degrees to place the blame on personal responsibility.
A beautiful article in Orion magazine several years ago – the slow news, considered stuff you rarely have time for – exhorted its readers to stop taking three minute showers. Stop sorting the recycling. Stop in other words thinking your personal habits can change the course of this Titanic. Instead get political, get activist and aim straight for the system that gave no choice.
Instead, we have been carefully marketed illusions that if we pick up the rubbish strewn on the beaches it’s OK for Coca-Cola to keep producing more plastic bottles. Let’s not forget the Coke company paid squillions to fund Keep America Beautiful and more squillions including in Aus to stop the container deposit scheme.
The coal and oil companies are pouring buckets of money into carbon capture and storage even if it doesn’t work…well it keeps the attention and energy on fanciful tech that of course we hope will work, but then again, we wish fairies at the bottom of the garden were real too.
What the Orion article says is, change the system, engage in radical change.
Our choices are decided by the cabal of the single raised eyebrow. They got rid of the electric car at the turn of the last century so they could prosper at the cost of our precious atmosphere. Even the first electric bicycles were invented in 1985. What happened? Well, never mind, they’re here now. See Rose Mary Petrass’ story on EB’s this issue.
Now the legacy of the system that robbed us of clean transport, and put disposable consumerism on warp speed – the two richest men in the world, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are doing everything they can to get off this planet. What can we possibly think is going on, other than the bleeding obvious? They’re serious. We’re not.
The Amazon guy thanked his customers for the privilege. You bet he did.
Last night we took a quick look at the rerun of the film Margin Call about how the global financial crisis happened.
At one point the owner of the firm, a character played by Jeremy Irons says, tell me the story like I’m a child, a golden retriever.
He doesn’t profess to being a genius he says, not like his staff. The only reason he’s paid the big dollars is because his only job is to listen to the music and right now all he can hear is silence.
So read what Jeremy Grantham, the seer of financial markets, told Bloomberg in an interview just yesterday at your peril.
The parallels with the film are eerie. Except that Grantham isn’t talking about a financial meltdown, he’s talking about a planetary meltdown – on which, the entire global economy depends, actually.
Here’s what you need to know about Grantham’s views.
The “Goldilocks” period of the past 25 years is ending, and the world needs to prepare for a future of inflation, slower growth and labour shortages, he said.
“There’s only a certain amount of cheap oil, cheap nickel, cheap copper, and we are beginning to hit some of those boundaries.
“Climate change is coming with heavy floods, serious droughts and higher temperatures – none of these make farming easier. So, we’re going to live in a world of bottlenecks and shortages and price spikes everywhere.”
Add to that the reality that baby boomers [in our rich nations, we presume] are retiring, birth rates are declining, emerging markets are maturing and geopolitical tensions are flaring – all trends decades in the making and almost unstoppable,” he told the publication.
“Similarly, the growth of the past century in pursuit of ever-higher standards of living left depleted soils, poisoned ecosystems and a changing climate, he said. That’s why wildlife is disappearing, biodiversity is in jeopardy and human reproductivity is slowing.
“’We have simply shot way beyond the long-term capacity of the planet to deal with us,”
“Nature is beginning to fail. And in the end, if we don’t fix that, we begin to fail as well.”
He predicts a 50 per cent crash in markets. Right or wrong, chicken little or acute seer, the biggest message is that the financial markets are getting the picture on climate.
Time’s up for myth making that we have 10 or 20 years. We need to prepare for adaptation now with as much mitigation as possible. And no more rubbish and lies from outfits like the Master Builders Association that keep trying to hold back tiny increments in energy efficiency in our building code. No more rubbish from developers who get a couple of apartments certified but build the rest as poorly as ever.
No more looking at energy efficiency in our buildings but not embodied carbon – thanks to one of our commentators for pointing out that glaring omission from the proposed building code upgrade. Not its gambit? We need to make it so.
Heard of “buy nothing new”. How long will it be before we have the rise of a movement called “build nothing new”.
We need everything that the sustainability industry has been advocating for decades. Except now at lightning speed. The built environment is at the forefront of both adaptation and mitigation. It’s OUR job.
Everywhere there is the rise of interest, jobs, policies, mandates, commitments and goals to tackle sustainability.
We as a species are immensely intelligent, adaptive, creative.
We need to move fast and cajole, nudge or outright push all around us the same way.
Look to the financial markets who now get the urgency.
Remember they are the ones that feel the pain most acutely, where it hurts most acutely – the hip pocket.
Don’t look to the politicians, they don’t feel the pain at all. They feel only what’s possible at the next election.
And if you don’t like any of this argument for goodness sake, don’t look up.