JANUARY TO MARCH 2007 NEWS AND VIEWS OF DAVID RISSTROM: 2004 VICTORIAN GREENS No 1 SENATE CANDIDATE
David Risstrom keeps a watching brief on news, ideas, issues and policies. If there are issues you think need to be discussed, please contact David at email@example.com. David last updated this site on 26 January 2007.
26 JANUARY 2007
A STERN GLOBAL MESSAGE FROM CHRIS MARDON ON THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSE TO CLIMATE CHANGE
Dr. Chris Mardon, former CSIRO scientist and current Greens member, sent me the following email on the urgent need for Australia's global change action. Chris gave his permission for this email to be published to the world at large, "so that it will reach as many people as possible."
Dear All, In his report, Stern called for global emissions trading to deal with Global Warming. He now seems to have realised that emissions trading on its own will not be enough to reduce emissions in time. As I have mentioned a number of times, the EU ETS has been a failure because the cap has been set too high, and there does not seem to be the political will to impose significant costs on major industries like power utilities and oil companies. Some European countries also have energy and carbon taxes in addition to carbon trading, but if the UK adopts a carbon tax, that will be a major shift.
Even with carbon trading, it would have helped if carbon credits had been auctioned rather than given away to the big players, and the National Allocation Plans should have incorporated lower caps in line with their Kyoto targets. Most European countries will not meet their Kyoto targets, despite the fact that they are supposed to be legally binding. Low carbon prices and a lack of stability in the ETS has prevented a lot of investment in emissions reduction measures that should have been occurring. Instead, there has been widespread and often dubious use of offsets instead of real action to reduce emissions at source.
The problem with a global carbon tax is that it greatly widens the jurisdiction of such a tax, and developing countries may not be willing to adopt it unless the industrialised do a deal to help them. The G8 should take the lead here and seek a compromise position that will allow the creation of a global system. There is no longer any doubt that something needs to be done quickly, but unless the major powers all agree, nothing much is likely to happen. Davos is not the right forum for such an agreement.
On the nuclear option, it should be remembered that the ABARE report produced for AP6 last year suggested that new technologies such as clean coal, geosequestration and nuclear hydrogen could reduce emissions by 23%, but since gross emissions were expected to treble along with economic growth, net emissions would more than double by 2050. Since emissions need to at least halve by then, this is an admission that new technology alone WILL NOT reduce the threat of global warming, so other measures will be needed.
The real problem that the powers that be don’t want to think about is the constant push for growth in world trade. Worldwide environmental problems, including global warming, suggest that the scope for further economic growth is just not there unless there is either a major decline in world population, or a massive increase in the efficiency of resource use. We should do the latter anyway, but continued growth in the production of goods is just unsustainable, and it is time that we recognised that. There is a case for a shift of resources to developing countries, but they also need to recognise that they may have to moderate their development goals too. If the whole world aspired to live at the same standard as California, then we would need several planets, not one.
Regards, Chris Mardon
16 JANUARY 2007
THE FRIGHTENING POSSIBILITY THAT THEY KNOW
George Bush's administration announced its decision last week to increase its troop commitment to Iraq. As an apparently reflexive contribution of the coalition of the willing, Australia's Prime Minister, John Howard, endorsed the decision of his good friend and sheriff-in-charge George.
Mark Coultan, the Melbourne Age's New York correspondent wrote an excellent article in The Age on Saturday 13 January 2007 titled 'Bush has a plan, but no backers.' Coultan's article asks the question "whose idea is the so-called surge of US troops into Baghdad?" Surveying publicly available information on who in the military, government and the US Congress supports putting more troops in harms way in Iraq, implicit answer is that their is effectively no support amongst those who know and those whose matter.
Perhaps the most frightening conclusion is not that either George Bush or his co-operative Prime Minister of steel John Howard are ill informed or stupid. For me, this most recent decision is further confirmation that the purposes that John Howard and George Bush have for their invasion of Iraq is not benefit of Iraq, but of themselves. As those who have followed the sorry saga of the Iraq invasion, the invasion of Iraq had, and increasingly, presents little that evidences that the political leadership authorising the invasion did so for the stated benefit of the people of Iraq.
As John Howard has made a craft of using dog whistle techniques against refugees seeking asylum in Australia, the increasingly clear course of conduct in treating less powerful people as means to a political end, rather than ends in themselves as citizens in a democracy, lays bare the tactic that issues such as Iraq and global warming are used by the government as platforms for political advantage to other ends, rather than critically urgent problems demanding ethical and considered human responses.
14 JANUARY 2007
GOERGE MONBIOT'S CAREER ADVICE: CHOOSE LIFE
Having just finished watching copies of 'Outfoxed' and Noam Chomsky's 'Distorted Morality' I was in the mood to stumble upon a page on George Monbiot's web blog on career advice titled 'Choose Life'. The advice is very good, so I have added a link to it, which is available by clicking on the underlined title.
I have been frequently asked by others wanting to work for environmental and social justice issues what they should do about their career. I think George Monbiot's piece, which mainly focuses on those pursuing journalism as a trade, is excellent. With time, and dependent on what direction my work takes following the upcoming Greens Senate preselection, I aim to return to this question and to try to record some of the perspectives I have developed in my uneven career to date.
11 JANUARY 2007
SOME UNSOLICITED, PROBABLY UNWANTED, AND ALMOST CERTAINLY TO BE IGNORED ADVICE FROM MICHAEL MOORE TO PRESIDENT BUSH
I received the following open letter by email from US documentary maker Michael Moore to President George Bush. I suspect Mr Bush is unlikely to be moved, particularly given President Bush's fallacious analysis and dishonest portrayal of the United States support of Saddam Hussein during the Iraq - Iran war and subsequent invasion when Saddam Hussein became less useful to the interests of the American leadership.
Dear Mr. President: Send Even MORE Troops (and you go, too!) ...from Michael Moore
Dear Mr. President,
Thanks for your address to the nation. It's good to know you still want to talk to us after how we behaved in November.
Listen, can I be frank? Sending in 20,000 more troops just ain't gonna do the job. That will only bring the troop level back up to what it was last year. And we were losing the war last year! We've already had over a million troops serve some time in Iraq since 2003. Another few thousand is simply not enough to find those weapons of mass destruction! Er, I mean... bringing those responsible for 9/11 to justice! Um, scratch that. Try this -- BRING DEMOCRACY TO THE MIDDLE EAST! YES!!!
You've got to show some courage, dude! You've got to win this one! C'mon, you got Saddam! You hung 'im high! I loved watching the video of that -- just like the old wild west! The bad guy wore black! The hangmen were as crazy as the hangee! Lynch mobs rule!!!
Look, I have to admit I feel very sorry for the predicament you're in. As Ricky Bobby said, "If you're not first, you're last." And you being humiliated in front of the whole world does NONE of us Americans any good.
Sir, listen to me. You have to send in MILLIONS of troops to Iraq, not thousands! The only way to lick this thing now is to flood Iraq with millions of us! I know that you're out of combat-ready soldiers -- so you have to look elsewhere! The only way you are going to beat a nation of 27 million -- Iraq -- is to send in at least 28 million! Here's how it would work:
The first 27 million Americans go in and kill one Iraqi each. That will quickly take care of any insurgency. The other one million of us will stay and rebuild the country. Simple.
Now, I know you're saying, where will I find 28 million Americans to go to Iraq? Here are some suggestions:
1. More than 62,000,000 Americans voted for you in the last election (the one that took place a year and half into a war we already knew we were losing). I am confident that at least a third of them would want to put their body where there vote was and sign up to volunteer. I know many of these people and, while we may disagree politically, I know that they don't believe someone else should have to go and fight their fight for them -- while they hide here in America.
2. Start a "Kill an Iraqi" Meet-Up group in cities across the country. I know this idea is so early-21st century, but I once went to a Lou Dobbs Meet-Up and, I swear, some of the best ideas happen after the third mojito. I'm sure you'll get another five million or so enlistees from this effort.
3. Send over all members of the mainstream media. After all, they were your collaborators in bringing us this war -- and many of them are already trained from having been "embedded!" If that doesn't bring the total to 28 million, then draft all viewers of the FOX News channel.
Mr. Bush, do not give up! Now is not the time to pull your punch! Don't be a weenie by sending in a few over-tired troops. Get your people behind you and YOU lead them in like a true commander in chief! Leave no conservative behind! Full speed ahead!
We promise to write. Go get 'em W!
10 JANUARY 2007
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE PEOPLE OF THE NORTH WEST FOR THEIR NOWINGI WIN
I'd like to congratulate the people of north western Victoria who have won the battle to keep a toxic waste facility from being dumped in their area. I visited the area while the 2004 Victorian Greens Senate Candidate and pledged my support for the community campaign. I had done a fair bit of work while a Councillor at Melbourne City Council aimed at reducing the need for such a dump, including introducing a Zero Waste policy by 2010, well ahead of the State Government doing so.
I recall after the 2004 Federal election speaking from the steps of the Victorian Parliament to a large crowd of angry residents part of a strong community and Council campaign to fight the dump. It was obvious with the large number of National supporters in the crowd that some were surprised that a Green was speaking o their behalf. My message was straightforward and I think well received. I explained to them that many of them were in the position that the Greens had been in many times: being part of a community campaign for an environmental good. From my own experience, I explained to the crowd that they needed to be ready for the long term, to be good to themselves and to realise that while their fight would be difficult it was worth doing and deserved our support. I also recall my beautiful four legged friend, Rosa the German Shepherd, sitting on that warm day under the legs of police horses that on occasions past, had probably followed her down Swanston Street during many a similar campaign.
The community have now won their battle and deserve our congratulations and support for such a strong campaign.
Now it is our turn to do what we can to avoid the need for such facilities, by looking to ideas as such as Zero Waste by reducing, reducing and recycling, and by demanding our political representatives treat these issues with the gravity they deserve.
8 JANUARY 2007
ALISON BROINOWSKI'S BOOK 'HOWARD'S WAR'
I have just finished reading Alison Broinowski's 2003 book, Howard's War, Alison traces many of the events and decisions that led to America, Britain and Australia declaring war on Iraq and their immediate and longer term consequences.
Australia was part of a small group of countries that broke international law in declaring war against Iraq without either the endorsement of the United Nations or the ability argue that the act of war was taken in self defence. The book's title 'Howard's War' reflects the authoritarian approach the Prime Minister applies to decision making within the Cabinet and his apparent lack of consultation with his colleagues. Furthermore and quite amazingly, the Australian Parliament is not required to approve or ratify a decision of the Prime Minister to commit our troops to was, though historically, the debate has often been brought to the floor of the Parliament.
Reading Howard's War was a reminder of how important the decision Jon Howard took to commit Australian troops to war.
Howard's War is a 138 page paperback published by Scribe, which I picked up at a recent book sale for $5, but is likely to retail in the under $20 mark in ordinary bookshops. It is well worth a read.
1 JANUARY 2007
HAVE A HAPPY, JUST AND FAIRER 2007
Have a happy, just and fairer 2007, wherever you are, whoever you are and for whatever good you wish for the world: David Risstrom
This page provides my news and views from January 1 to March 31 2007. The previous edition of current news and views are available by clicking here: Rosa's and Dave's News and Views: Oct-Dec 2006.