China’s self-selected life-president Xi says Taiwan will be part of China by 2049, just 27 years from now but, as only 10% of Taiwanese are agreeable, either this goal will fail or he will trigger an invasion upending the world as we know it.
Elon Musk is putting more than 1,000 satellites into our night sky without having asked any of his fellow human beings if the commonly-owned sky was his for the taking. Not a murmur from anyone.
India’s Gautam Adani, aided by his coterie of Australian Liberal, Labor and National Party sycophants, has become the third richest person on Earth – Musk and Mr Besos are still ahead of him. Never mind, according to some news reports up to $3 billion dollars will be going from Adani’s Queensland coal mine to his family trust account in the Cayman Islands, tax free.
Money makes money, especially if a glitterati of political leaders service your plans for free. To quote India’s National Herald: ‘The Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who led a delegation of 25 mayors and officials to India, confirmed that all the clearances and approvals had come in.’
Labor even gave Adani free water for his massive mine. Which highlights how the world’s richest 10% (including most of us reading this) have 50% of the wealth, while the world’s poorest 50% (none of whom will get to read this) languishes with just 10%: for each dollar they get, we get $25. Yet who’s content?
As the evil billionaire President Putin shows, greed has no mercy or limit.
But if social inequality besets the world, how about environmental injustice? Especially from the point of view of the non-human world? Homo sapiens (us) is wrecking Earth’s finely-tuned and miraculously-complex biosphere like a rat eating a moth. Life is fast fading away. If you are 3, expect sea levels to rise 3 metres in your lifetime with a billion or so people displaced and moving your way.
One thing I regret about leaving the Senate is that I didn’t get in a bill making it unlawful for taxpayers’ money to go to future reparations for those building within 10 metres of current sea levels. Compensation demands from this myopia will break the bank. But, if we think a few centuries out and sensibly project the ultimate Antarctic ice melt, make that nearer 80 metres – somewhere out in the Dandenongs, Mt Coot-tha, or the Blue Mountains (Penrith is at 32m) etc.
Australia’s Minister for the Environment, Tanya Plibersek, is taking a long time to decide whether to let Xi’s state-owned mining giant, MMG, go ahead with its toxic waste dump in Tasmania’s takayna/Tarkine rainforest. She answers no campaigners’ letters. While MMG has alternatives outside the Tarkine, the threatened Tasmanian masked owls in that rainforest have none. It took a Federal Court appeal to stop MMG from its first invasion of the Masked Owls’ forest, but Plibersek can override the court. MMG will be watching for the minister’s decision as closely as the 80 good citizens arrested so far for impeding its destruction, though I doubt that MMG, like them, will be excommunicated by Plibersek. What is certain is that she will inform MMG before the public.
This Albanese Labor government began its environmental career by ticking off on the vast Scarborough gas project in Western Australia and the consequent further destruction of Aboriginal rock carvings on the Burrup Peninsula. Then Plibersek, in her first decision as Minister for the Environment, sent the bulldozers into the rare Gelorup woodland south of Perth to begin a Bunbury bypass. That road could and should have been planned on alternative routes which didn’t smash the woodland and its array of threatened wildlife.
After four critically-endangered Western ringtail possums were killed, the works were temporarily stopped. As with the Tarkine, Plibersek completely ignored her constituents at Gelorup. No answers to their polite letters. No acknowledgement of their appeals. Nothing. Can you imagine a Labor, Liberal or Nationals Minister for Resources ignoring their constituency of mining or logging corporate executives?
To be simplistic, there are two urgent challenges facing us eight billion human beings if we are to make it into the future. The first is to give everyone an equal chance at life and that means ending this era of billionaires. It means all of us have to pull in our belts and cease wanting, way beyond our needs, more stuff. Growth economics is killing everyone’s future security.
The second is to end the wrecking of the biosphere and that is closely linked to the first. These challenges overshadow all else in politics.
The Greens were addressing both when, at the last election, they won the biggest vote ever. The parallel advent of the Teals emphasises the electorate’s belated but growing fear for the future and eagerness for political saviours.
From now on, each native forest tree that falls, each coal mine that expands or is newly begun, each hole drilled in farmlands for gas, each industrial fish farming invasion of our seas, will see more votes carve off the old parties. That is why they are so desperate to criminalise peaceful defenders of the environment. The Green MPs’ job is not to be arrested at the barricades but to be on the parliamentary benches as advocates and supporting those who are at the barricades.
In the duality of political advocacy and civil action for equality and ecology is the winning of the world.
(Bob Brown, a medical practitioner was elected to the Australian Senate for Tasmania in 1996 later elected as the first Federal Parliamentary Leader and instigator of the newly established Greens Party in 2005. After a dedicated career as an environmental leader and pioneer he resigned in 2012. He subsequently established the Bob Brown Foundation with his longtime partner Paul Thomas to promote environmental awareness.)