Thursday, 7 July 2011

Crystal sets and in utero conditioning.

I really can’t afford the time, but I feel the need to do my grumpy old man act on this one.
When I was a kid of maybe twelve, I built myself a crystal set and could lie in bed and listen to the radio through earphones. However, the only clear station was the one that broadcasted Parliament from Canberra so I was exposed to politics and debate earlier than most kids are if ever. I must say debate back then was debate, unlike now when most of it is mindless childish posturing.

However, like pre-born babies who hear certain tunes or voices while in utero I am forever drawn back to listen to the sounds of my early youth. But let me get to the point.

You wouldn’t think it right now, but Australia on the whole has one of the highest per capita incomes on the planet. Our problem however, is that national income is heavy on coal and iron exports and not a lot of that trickles down, but still our living standards are very much higher than Indonesians, our nearest and in some ways our dearest neighbours.
Last time I flew to Timor and Flores was about fifteen years ago, but I doubt much has changed. There I visited a dozen or so homes, one the home of a reasonably highly placed official in Kupang. The house was smaller than houses were here a hundred years ago, about 8 squares, with a dirt floor, maybe three light bulbs and a small TV set.
Here most houses have a refrigerator or two, a freezer, washing machine, dryer, air conditioner, hot water on tap, twenty or more lights, a wide screen TV or two, vacuum cleaner, microwave, toasters, jugs a computer or three plus many more lesser electrical utensils.
I would estimate a per capita electricity use per head of maybe a hundred time that of the average Indonesian.
I stopped to listen as this idiot insisted that Australia need not do anything about climate change because ‘Indonesians are doing less’.

As you all know, my politics favours internationalism over parochialism, cooperation over confrontation and above all, an awareness of the science of Climate Change and a realisation that unless we fix that and pronto, all else will become academic. Chances are that by the time my grandchildren reach adulthood fixing it will be well beyond us.

When we have killed off our ocean ecosystem by allowing acidification to rise way past the ability of corals and krill to survive, made agriculture more difficult and continued to populate way past the ability of the planet to support us, human misery will cause such conflict that we will all be dragged into the most profound adjustment for humans the world has ever seen with the end of the Human Era a prospect, second comings and rapturings notwithstanding.

It is difficult, it is complex, it does require sacrifice and we would all wish it to go away. But as anyone who has built a bridge, developed a vaccine, won an Olympic gold medal or flown to the moon will tell you, none of those things happened by wishing for them. They took a lot of planning, skill, money and hard work over a long time. Wishing, praying and slogans did not lay even the first brick and so it is with our climate change response. Every one of us must commit or we are stuffed. But what are we getting from, our leaders?

As I see it, politics has degenerated into a contest of egos who say whatever polls indicate will get them votes. Unlike in the real world, dumbing down issues and compressing them into three word slogans works. Support for action is waning on the back of a few publicity seekers in media and politics who are saying basically that climate change is nonsense, or God is taking care of it and in any case there is nothing to worry about if you get rid of this government and vote for me.
Wherever you live, does that sound familiar?

Indonesian pic courtesy
Kid with crystal set is not me. He is far cuter than I ever was.


  1. I agree whole-heartedly, Stafford - with everything except your statement that you're not cute.

    You're adorable!

  2. "...Indonesians, our nearest and in some ways our dearest neighbours."

    This part of your post stood out for me because it was the part I didn't know and hadn't even imagined. I had rather pictured Australians and New Zealanders as feeling isolated from the surrounding Asiatic peoples, not just by language but by culture and religion. This makes it impossible for me to understand how Australians and Indonesians could feel close to one another.

  3. "As I see it, politics has degenerated into a contest of egos who say whatever polls indicate will get them votes."

    So sad, yet so true.

    As I see it, those that are elected should get on with the business of governing and not politicking.

  4. It's just getting worse and worse. I agree with Oodozo - politicians should get on with the business of governing - but they don't. It is so frustrating. I am beside myself most of the time.

    I've travelled extensively through Asia and it is fine for the fat cats both in Australian society and Australian government to condemn a people who are fairly much living in an impoverished state most of the time for cutting down trees or polluting rivers or destroying orangutan habitats or emitting too much carbon but the fact is for most people in south east Asia those behaviours are a matter of survival. And they do it often because they have no choice due to corrupt governments or as a result of consumerism pressures from us, the so called glorious West. It doesn't make it right, but it does make the rest of us, eating our cream cakes and checking our BHP Billiton portfolios over our free trade morning coffee (irony), feel we have the right to pass judgement and play the 'They pollute more than we do' game.

    I am sick of it, Stafford. And yes, you are cute. And people like you make me keeep going. Thank you.

  5. Wonderful post. It should be in an editorial column somewhere - though definitely not The Australian! I felt sickened by the bit of Parliamentary 'debate' I listened to this week. I bet there are some intelligent, thoughtful folk lurking on the back benches of both sides, but political argy-bargy will ensure that they'll never get to the front benches. So we are doomed to watch egoistic and/or opportunistic professional politicians spout their (forgive me) self-serving crap. A pox on 'em all.

  6. It all makes me sick to the stomach and I second what Selma has said in her comment. Every country needs to play its part and the type of comparisons that are being made are just self-serving crap. Good one Grumpy :)

  7. I think it is an essential part of human nature (reluctantly) to take the easy short term foute. It takes courage and vision and leadership to make hard decisions that require sacrifice: our whole culture is predicated on short term gratification and consumption. Unfortunately the pessimist in me thinks it will take Serious disaster before we learn to take responsibility for our actions.

    Here in exile land - a desert - the per capita daily consumption of water is 750 litres - which must be the highest in the world. Amazing.

  8. I agree with all you say. Perhaps we should all just bend over and kiss all that we love good bye. At least say one last good bye. It seems we are few and they are many... nothing much will be done...

  9. As you say, the slogans don't really accomplish anything. Unfortunately many of the programs to effect ecological change are more about ego than about what really needs to be done, as well. It takes a serious effort to actually analyze what needs to be done than most are not willing to do, preferring to just make a quick show of action.

    Efforts to save the Kommodo dragon have resulted in the extinction of hundreds of other species for example.

    This same egotistical offering of quick fixes is the cause of the current economic situation in many countries.

  10. Stafford,
    Exactly! It's the same. Leave it to the politicians,but we can't leave them alone to their whims. They'll drag the country down and they lined their pockets at the same time.It takes man of courage to do otherwise.
    Furthermore 'climate change' is somewhat intangible. Low on the priority scale unless they are personally/adversely affected to prompt them into action.
    Worst, we had Al Gore who allegedly had hoodwinked the world in the last round. Credibility in the issue takes time to develop hence. Pity.

    P/S Thanks for visiting Dude and Babe


  11. Dearest cute Stafford-
    You are absolutely spot on- I am so sick and tired of politicians not doing the right thing by doing the hard work our world needs. We really try to tread lightly and not leave a slimy trail of useless devices that only pollute. But where are our visionaries? Well- they are right here and I am writing to one! Keep up the hard work Stafford- and we will too.

  12. I toss my hat into this ring of agreement from the smallest state in the US, on the other side of the world. I have become so cynical; talk is cheap. The world is drowning in stuff and garbage.

    I thought the word sacrifice was one of those words retired from the dictionary, Stafford.

    So tired in Rhode Island

  13. God gave us brains and a body to think and to work hard with. Leaving it in his hands is the easy way out. Trusting in his gifts he gave to us and trying to use them appropriately is the key. Nice post!

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