What now of our future?

This was written for my weekly page in the Molong Express of 23rd May, 2019. It reflects my own views and not necessarily those of either the Molong Express or any other person associated with that paper

Lake Nanine, Western Australia. Once rich in fish and birdlife, the climate crisis and overuse have taken their toll on Nanine – and most of WA’s lakes

Well, the election is for the most part done and dusted and the country is awash with recriminations and back-slapping, with gloating and the gnashing of teeth. The most surprising thing about this election is that the outcome was in large part decided by three very rich, very selfish men whose views on the distribution of wealth just happened to coincide with those of their front man and now the elected Prime Minister. But there are no winners.

Clive Palmer may have achieved his goal of blocking a Labor victory and at the same time guaranteeing he will gain approval for a vast coalmine in Queensland, and the father-and-son team who have all but total control of Australia’s media may have once again proved to themselves and their hangers-on that they are among the world’s most powerful men and answerable to no-one, but they still find themselves in the same leaky boat to which they have likely condemned the rest of us.

Australia has been sentenced to another three years of inaction on the crisis now facing the world. Even if the new government goes to the polls early – over the past 25 years the average time between elections has been 27.5 months – time that could have been spent in mitigating some of the effects of global heating will have been wasted. Time we can ill afford.

The Coalition has already wasted six valuable years, six years spent in argument among its members. The Biblical brigade fought the more progressive bloc over same-sex marriage; members of all factions fought over the climate crisis; the coal at all costs Lignites argued against renewable energy while we experienced the hottest summers on record, rivers ran dry and ordinary citizens donated to farmers whose lives were being crushed by drought. And in the eight months leading up to the election, the People’s House sat for less than a month, largely so the government could avoid scrutiny according to many commentators.

And nothing has changed. The climate crisis has slipped back down the agenda – not that either of the two main parties were really serious about it in the first place – and the government will soon be back to blaming the “latté-sipping city dwellers” for alarming their beloved “battlers”. This conveniently ignores the fact that voters in most blue-ribbon seats would fall in the former category and the latter will continue to be denied penalty rates, meaningful training and, for the unemployed among them, an increase in the unemployment allowance – benefit is too generous a word.

Nationally, we must get our head out of the sand. All the legislation in the world becomes meaningless if the climate crisis is not addressed but this is unlikely to happen. The Coalition seems hell bent on following the lead of the USA in allowing a noisy minority of climate change deniers and born-again Christians, aided and abetted by the very forces that have pulled the rug out from under the “middle classes”, to dictate policy.

A US political commentator once said that when America doesn’t have a war it needs to start one, so great is the political influence of the military-industrialists. Donald Trump seems to be drooling at the prospect of a stoush with Iran, and if he plunges the US into yet another futile conflict, then it’s London to a brick-on that our government will follow him. And it’s not only the industrialists who will celebrate. Fundamentalist and evangelical Christians all over the world, Australia included, would rejoice at the approaching “End Times”, the end-vision of Christian Dominionism made real.

If there is an invasion of Iran, there will be another exodus of refugees at a time when the world is awash with the displaced and desperate. Someone once said that communism flourishes where there are empty bellies. To this I’d add that terrorism flourishes where there is despair and injustice. When the ranks of those displaced by war are swollen by those uprooted by the climate crisis, it will be almost too late to act; governments may be all but powerless against the tide of human misery unless they all join in cooperation, and given the present mood, there seems little likelihood of that happening.

The climate crisis must be addressed now, yet already we see that the government cannot act on any of its election promises until the new financial year. Financial legislation will dominate Parliament for weeks or months after that and it will be another six months at best before our most pressing emergency is even mentioned.

We are in danger of alienating our young people even more than we already have. Worldwide they are demonstrating by their actions that they fear the future they are being left, and soon they will become angry.

And who could blame them?

3 thoughts on “What now of our future?

  1. Check out the tally room https://tallyroom.aec.gov.au/HouseDefault-24310.htm?fbclid=IwAR2YYZnpxyD7bexLMDJK5LJ48As_ObL0Lb7tnv5EnB71dJqf4y2q2dQuSTg and we can see how much Labor need to have a coalition if they are to win! Libs only got 45 seats, and Labor received 67! Libs only won because of Clive Palmer’s nasty United Australia campaign that swung the vote 3.4% and because Libs also receive seats from their coalition, The Liberal National Party 23 seats, and the Nationals 10 seats! There are bigger players influencing the way politics are run in this country, namely the Murdoch Empire, https://thinkprogress.org/we-have-lost-australia-warns-climate-scientist-scott-morrison-upset-92008fabb597/?fbclid=IwAR0_pivP30_FaQbSXRxyFgKt_atHhyhK59X3RnZC3x2Vj4ZMZlBAOG-TPCo, and the shadow government, and shame on greedy people world wide who don’t care, only think about themselves! Fortunately, Libs haven’t got any further than they were prior to the election, in fact have lost seats, as did Labor and Independents and Greens boosted figures up, and I am sure Penny Wong as leader of the Senate will give the Libs run for their money! I also feel for the youth and children, and do not want their aspirations squashed, so write and post regularly on student strike for climate change on fb and other networks of youth, and am proactive in many communities. I have been fighting for the environment as long as I can remember ( I am early gen x), and it has always been the ‘baby boomers’ and the generation before who have got in the way of progress, because they got all the good jobs, free education ( baby boomers) a mortgage and the perks, and were too interested in ‘chasing the money’ and my sub-generation have done most of the unpaid work, voluntarily work, the caring for the environment, the caring for neighbours, the elderly, children, and have been harassed by centrelink and job agencies ( that can’t find us work) because we can’t get enough money to live because we are so busy doing the unpaid work that no one recognises, and the baby boomers would not and are still are not giving up their posts, and now my sub-generation are passing on our knowledge and experiences to the millenials and gen z who are in a similar situation as us, but the world has got worse, and opportunities are even less and the environment is suffering so… The only solution as you say is a collective one, and elders and wise people are hugely needed to encourage youth and children of the future, yet numbers of the elderly wise are few.. I always felt that I was wiser than my parents, and parented them and I parent lots of generations! WE re the wise ones’ yet not old as yet, yet we have bridged the generations and continue to do so. It is wonderful that you in your latter years are acting as a true ‘elder’ and you are definitely needed! Keep up your good work and encourage other elders to grow up, embrace their fear of death and to do something constructive for the planet, and the younger generations! https://player.fm/series/nightlife-1251392/this-mortal-coil-stephen-jenkinson-on-the-dearth-of-elders-in-our-society?fbclid=IwAR1q6dRBXyWLKOHNURlh33w6bRwKILNFdHHaQ3Ab-LvNv49byDNpV39g0gI blessings, Bridget :).

    1. Thank you for this – and the following – reply. I’m of the generation just before that of the “baby boomers” (born in 1940) and am fortunate enough to have lived in magical places among some magical people in my childhood, but I saw the writing on the wall in the early 1950s and have struggled against it ever since. Thanks for your kind comments and my apologies for the late response – I am away on a one-month “entertainment” gig and steruggling with a new laptop (PC) after my trusty Mac died. I coudn’t afford to replace the Mac so am spending my days swearing at Bill Gates! Best of luck – and if you would like any info or encouragement, I’m happy to give an email address. – Frank

      1. Thanks, and you are welcome. My father was born 1937 and my late mother 1938 ( she was a product of the holocaust and was in the Vught concentration camp and her father at Auschwitz, and what was left of her family had to sell everything they had to come to Australia), so know of your struggles post depression, and when the ‘baby boomers’ took your hard earned positions in their late 20’s and early 30’s because of their free education and degrees! They are still holding their full time posts, reluctant to give up their reign! I have never let money dictate my values, it is just energy after all, so focus on what is truly valuable, like a happy family, clean air, healthy environment, communities, etc We really need to re-orientate our ways and prioritise life-giving and healthy options… Enjoy your ‘entertainment’ gig, and your month away, sounds lots of fun. Good luck with your new PC laptop, won’t be long and your teething problems will be over. Thanks for your care, Bridget :).

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