dwindling reserves

I heard yet another debate tonight about climate change; the scientists on such panels use phrases like: “we need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels”. Reminds me of John Donne’s line: “sucked on country pleasures childishly”.

We need to constantly promote the baseline facts: Saudi Arabia was a major oil producer, but its rate of pumping the substance has vastly decreased. Its reserves are simply running dry; efforts to extract oil from more inaccessible sites like BHP in the Bay of Mexico led to the worst environmental pollution in US history. We need to repeat how bad the various components of urban air pollution are for us. This combination should prompt us to see the logic of turning to clean renewable energy sources, especially in a country like Australia where sunshine is plentiful.

Having completed a Master’s degree in design in COFA Paddington I’ve sat through lectures detailing how designers are creating “dumb-down” versions of high-tech inventions: radios powered by burning cans of cow dung, for instance. I know scientists are working on turning the Sahara into a giant reserve of solar energy; hopefully poor countries will eventually export energy to Europe.

Clearly, we should be doing the same. How marvellous if we could eradicate air pollution in Asia, as well of course, water pollution. Water and fuel are two commodities over which wars have been waged; and we have both in abundance. Sadly because of lethargy on the part of east coastal councils, huge volumes of rain water washes our drains and our oceans instead of being gently captured, moved by a series of Archimedes wheels uphill and across the Great Dividing Range into the dry heart of Australia. Currently we have the most absurd debate between environmentalists and irrigators seeking to protect their mutually exclusive interests. Of course ask an irrigator when they last encouraged their constituents to improve farm conditions: use mulch, introduce pvc piping instead of open air dirt channels where the precious water simply evaporates. Another bunch of lethargic types continues stubbornly to grow two of the most inappropriate crops for Australia: rice and cotton. Hemp and pawlonia are easier to grow, more plentiful in their uses, but things change SO slowly in the bush. In the 2 + centuries of European cultivation, raising sheep has drastically changed the vegetation on this continent, destroying the plants that held the topsoil and turning thousands of miles of land into desert, but admitting to this is un-Australian, it would seem. When the original inhabitants were simply herded off the land into camps; what was too easily obtained is just as casually neglected.

We have politicians in opposition sounding as if they have the interests of poorer families at heart: the carbon tax will be yet another dreadful burden. Get solar panels onto the roof, I say. Origin energy supplied ours, total cost $6,000, but we were offered a scheme of $900 upfront. We are already getting rebate cheques.

Scientists, being the Big Bang Sheldons that they are, cannot communicate complex facts simply, they are far too careful to present every fact immaculately; the consequent impact for ordinary people is that nothing can be done: the situation must be fixed by government. I know Murdock’s miserable, grubby newspapers have instilled this passivity only too cleverly: lie back and consume. Perhaps the academics have contributed also. The future of the planet is an amalgum of all our actions. We ALL contribute; our choice is ONLY: positive or negative.

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About anton veenstra

tapestry weaver, fibre artist, gay/qr activist, multiculturalist
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