In the mainstream discourse on climate change, the narrative is constantly repeated that tackling climate change is purely a philanthropic exercise, akin to donating money to a charity devoted to saving the polar bear out of pure good will. We are then told that the Australian government is in debt, that there is “budget emergency”, meaning that Australia cannot possibly afford to donate money to such a charity. We are told that there is allegedly great uncertainly amongst the scientific community about whether climate change is even real or not. That means that, however cute polar bears might be, money donated to the climate change charity might be going down the drain anyway. The good will should therefore be reconsidered.
The counter-discourse to this goes that due to climate change, the oceans are rising as polar ice caps melt, and islands in the Pacific are under threat of disappearing under water. For the sake of adverting an environmental disaster, action to counter climate must be taken urgently by eliminating the use of fossil fuels. The destruction of forests too must be averted. Carbon dioxide must be treated as an environmental pollutant, and large amounts of money donated towards drastically curb emissions lest the sky fall on our heads. It would be better to risk wasting money on averting an imaginary threat than to find out only too late that it was all too real.
The fact is both the discourse and counter-discourse are deeply problematic in how they constantly lock horns, wasting precious time going nowhere.
A far more enlightened way of looking at climate change is not merely as a tree hugging exercise, but to see it as an enormous economic opportunity. The fact is that as the world economy grows and more developing nations industrialise, it will not be possible to continue to rely on fossil fuels for the world’s future energy demands. That means vision is needed so we can easily manufacture energy without reliance on a profoundly limited resource, one that is will likely have an adverse economic impact in terms of environmental disturbances.
Energy manufacture may not be a common term. However, just because something is perishable such as electricity, it remains correct to use the term “manufacture”. As Einstein’s famous equation (e=mc2) states, matter and energy are the same thing anyway. Thus all matter is as perishable as energy. The expression “energy manufacture” covers the concept of electricity manufacture, as well as synthetic manufacture of forms of low emission synthetic fuels. It is only a matter of time, anyway, before electricity can be stored.
The beauty of this is that energy manufacture will replace the increasingly dated process of arduously digging up fossils from the ground, and will reduce this cumbersome procedure to a complete waste of time and money. Being able to manufacture energy at will, often literally out of thin air, also has the advantage of producing energy independence. After all, the Liberal Party is concerned about food independence, so energy independence should be just another facet of the same objective of geopolitical sovereignty.
If energy independence is achieved, no longer will geopolitical events in the Middle East affect energy prices in the matter that conspired to engender the oil shock. Not only that, but energy manufacture will be an enormous industry within Australia. Instead of importing energy, Australia will manufacture its own. The energy manufacturing sector will contribute a huge amount of GDP to the future Australian economy.
Anyone with any vision and foresight would be licking their chops at the prospect of such a future. Especially anyone concerned for the future economic prosperity of Australia. Before resources dug up from the ground like coal and oil end up defunct dinosaur fuels for a dated 20th century technology, a product that nobody wants to pay decent money for, Australia had better get cracking setting down the foundations of its autonomous energy future.
A perfect way of starting to build Australia’s energy manufacturing future would be to collect a tax on old fashioned fossil fuels and aggressively reinvesting it in the future energy infrastructure. After all, in the future, the political masters of the world will no longer be those who own or hold political hegemony over fossil fuel resources, but those who own the patents to the new clean energy technology.
If Australia invested in developing clean energy technology ahead of the rest of the world so that it held clean a large proportion of major energy patents, Australia would become a political and economic giant. But the Liberal Party wishes to fight tooth and nail to forgo such a prime opportunity at all cost. That is why Tony Abbott is staunchly opposing the discussion of a clean energy future at the Brisbane G20.
Whoever thinks that building the energy infrastructure future is too expensive is an abject fool who thinks that fighting for the license to print money (ownership of energy patents), and setting up money printing presses (manufacturing energy) is too expensive to bother with. Yet, in that race, Australia is getting itself dreadfully behind and getting left out in what will soon be a clean energy technology gold rush, while dinosaur fuel stocks crash and dwindle to oblivion.
It will not be long before the next stock market boom will be the clean energy manufacturing sector boom, akin to the nineteenth century railway stock boom, or the twentieth century IT boom. Investing in this sector now is like investing in Microsoft stock in the 1970s, something people may have laughed at or belittled at the time, just as some people ridicule the clean energy sector today.
As for whether climate change is real or not, that matters precious little. The majority of developed nations in the world accept this. Even fossil fuel corporations accept this. The die is cast. Anyone who buries their head the sand will merely get left behind and lose out in the race, while rambling that it is not happening. After a while, trying to export fossil fuel to the rest of the world on the argument that climate change is some giant conspiracy will not only be laughed at, but the demand for such fuels will fall so low that it will hardly command a price worthwhile even bother to peddle such worthless junk.
To invest in an Australian future based on an energy technology that is rapidly becoming obsolete is foolish beyond belief. To dismantle carbon pricing is like dismantling the high speed broadband network to invest in dial up modem technology on the basis that it represented the bright future of Australia. It is rather nothing more than planned suicide for the Australian economy.
The only reason the Liberal government government would implement such a plan would be to please the pressure groups formed by the mining corporations. Tony Abbott is merely serving the interests of mining companies who fund the Liberal Party rather than serving the long-term national interest. Short term political gain is being put ahead of the future of the nation. After all compared to the long future of the Australian energy sector, a politician’s shelf-life is very short. It is about short term political gain for long term national pain.
It is even more laughable that the alternative to carbon pricing will be a risible tree planting exercise that does nothing to plant the seeds of what will be an enormous Australian clean energy manufacturing industry. Nor do scientific authorities believe it will do much towards reducing greenhouse emissions. It is, in effect, little more than a emotional Liberal tree hugging exercise, one that leaves the Greens on the side impotently pushing for a hard-nosed economically rational market mechanism for greenhouse emission reduction!
So, it seems the Greens and the Liberals have swapped roles. The Greens push for tough-minded market based economic infrastructure building while the Liberals waste money indulging in a $2.5 billion dollar tree hugging exercise, a dopey hippy’s programme of rosy-eyed symbolic and sentimental value only, one that does little in the way of the hard-nosed national infrastructure building that Tony Abbott claimed he would commit himself towards.
Of course, as far as the mining companies are concerned, the major advantage of mobilising the comical Green Army of tree huggers is that it will avert doing anything towards bolstering competition from the looming clean energy sector, competition that increasingly threatens the monopoly of the fossil fuel energy sector. Rather than believing in market capitalism and encouraging free competition, while building the future infrastructure and prosperity of the nation, the Liberal government is supporting dinosaurian monopolies to quash the rowdy upstart clean energy sector that increasing threatens to render the fossil fuel industry obsolete.
Worse still, encouraging private households to sell solar energy fed back into the grid would further whittle away the hegemony of fossil fuel energy behemoths, while giving power to individuals. Nothing could be worse than that for the Liberal Party, for then the fossil fuel industries that fund the Party would have their energy sector monopoly threatened. It is this empowerment of individual households by collectively turning them into energy manufacturers that makes the development of solar energy so popular amongst German voters of all political persuasions, yet the voters in much sunnier Australia have been silenced, and instructed to continue to line the pockets of Liberal Party’s mining industry donors.
As for all of those things mentioned by environmentalists about polar bears having their habitat threatened, indigenous peoples in the Amazon having their homeland destroyed, not to mention increasing droughts threatening farmers and forest fires threatening homes—they still remain deeply important.
The problem is that weeping ostentatiously over polar bears and indigenous peoples, however utterly tragic their fate, represents time wasted merely preaching to the converted, while leaving heartless conservatives utterly unmoved or even violently repulsed. If the human species is to have a future, we must move away from weepy, sentimental green jingoism towards a ruthlessly scientific, evidence based energy policy backed by rigorous economic analysis.
Yet despite holding such emotively based idealistic arguments in utter contempt, the Liberal government has turned into everything they claim to fight against by wasting $2.5 billion dollars of taxpayers’ money, money that the reputedly impossibly debt ridden nation cannot afford, in some sentimental tree hugging Direct Action programme. It is hard to stop laughing loud enough.
One who fights monsters must beware turning into the very monsters one purports to be fight. Yet that is exactly the trap that the Liberal government has fallen into. For there is nothing neoliberal or market capitalist about these tree hugging “Liberals”, who have forsaken market mechanisms to drive energy technology development. Instead they should rename themselves the Tree Hugger Party, lead by one truly dopey Prime Minister, tripping on his own hallucinogenic ideology.