Anyone who knows me knows that I tend to avoid news. This is mainly because I become something not unlike a football fanatic and it is not a good habit to yell wildly at the television. The main reason for this comes down to the general lack of quality of news as I see it in Adelaide. I am uninterested in scandals and which celebrity has done this or that. I cannot be bothered by the ins and outs of various sports and fashion. As for politics… I tend to wonder where money trickles in from as the pop-media ‘articles’ are often little more than fluff or pathetic attempts at an attack (whichever bias the money has paid for).
As much as this habit is valuable to my blood pressure, it puts me at an obvious disadvantage. I’m often last to hear what would otherwise be excellent fuel for my comics and occasional rants. A good example of this that I recently read here was regarding absurd comments made by Senator Nick Minchin late last year. I’m almost tempted to find as much as I can and start a visual rebuttal… maybe later.
Anyway, the short and skinny of Minchin’s view on climate change was this; “For the extreme left, it provides the opportunity to do what they have always wanted to do, which is to sort of de-industrialise the Western world. The collapse of communism was a disaster for the left and, really, they embrace environment as their new religion.”
Yeah, he said that…
To begin with, I’m not going to go into much in the way of a climate response, as I have in the past and there are also far more knowledgeable individuals out there that can do an ever better job than myself.
That said, surely Mr. Minchin himself would be annoyed if one of his children went into the kitchen at night, grabbed themselves a drink from the fridge and didn’t bother the close the refrigerator door again. Surely if a neighbour used a leaf blower and let all the rubbish fly into his yard, he would be rather irate – and even more so if this neighbour later couldn’t see any problems with his actions once Minchin had tried to discuss the issue with him. It’s a simple principle of cause and effect. You don’t get something for nothing and you simply cannot collect millions of years of captured carbon and pump it back into the atmosphere in a couple centuries and expect no change – especially when it’s in the form of known greenhouse gases. Being ignorant enough to be unable see the potential harm is nothing but dangerous stupidity.
Ok, that was my ever repeated little rant on climate change… Now I would like to get back to this amazing statement.
On the whole left or right, I guess it might be difficult to say where I truly stand. On the play ground, if I was asked to pick which side as part of some game, I’d would, without a doubt stand with the lefties. I think, for the most, we find ourselves at the same resultant, but often through different means.
I know that I am certainly not conservative, but what they pride themselves on – those wholesome family values – many of them I would sway towards, but for radically different reasons again.
For instance, I can understand many of the rights view regarding law and order. Many people need or want it.
The people that want it are typically the type that will advocate religious morality as a good thing by stating that they fear what they could be capable of if it was not for their faith. These people tend to also be quite fearful of different religions and especially those who claim no faith at all. They do not seem capable of true self management and higher virtues for the simple reason of self-respect over their true basic animal instincts. That, or they simply are not smart enough to make empathetic, altruistic and humble choices based on enlightened reasoning and common sense.
Then there are those who blatantly need to be controlled. I’m talking about those charming individuals that think it’s quite reasonable to let off a couple rounds in the privacy of one’s own front yard. Of course again it is a matter of animal instincts, however unlike the group above, for environmental and/or social reasons, the simple question of personal ethics never arose to be personally questioned by this individuals.
As we cannot make different laws for different people, we must submit to such trivialities in order to provide safety to the majority. It’s as simple as that.
Hell, we could become a ridiculously liberated society, where all forms of polygamy, gun-toting, drug availability and a whole host of other stupidities where legalised and even promoted and I would still aim for the same goals as now. I am not restricted by faith or law, my morality and my virtues are my own and are based on reason, respect for myself and for other and most importantly, common sense.
I believe in the rights of an individual over their own life and happiness, but concede that too many others exploit the lives of those around them and thus, some measure is required to tame greed to something closer to an acceptable level.
Maybe we will develop a better social structure one day, although it seems unlikely due to genetics and history…
That said, I must, more less be a relatively strong lefty at least at the finish line;
- I am certainly in favour of legalising gay marriages (we should be teaching future generations the worth in working for a strong committed relationship, rather than what gender is acceptable – that seems more reasonable to me than the current “sleep-around” culture popularised);
- I am in favour of legalising euthanasia, with the obvious policies and psychological support in place (it is, in the end, one’s own body and to be left a prisoner, in endless pain and/or to dissolve into a horrible prolonged death is far from dignified as far as I’m concerned);
- I believe abortion has a role in our society, again with the required policies and support (there are a wide range of reasons why it is the most logical conclusion in certain cases and, like euthanasia, it cannot be taken lightly, however, support, understanding and well thought out polices rather than simply making it illegal must be the correct approach);
- I am an agnostic (preferring to learn what I can about the myriad of religious and spiritual aspects of humanity rather than adhere to something that I cannot prove or disprove);
- and Mr. Minchin, I am very much aware of our changing climate and fear what our actions now may cause in the future.
That said, I personally do not wish to de-industrialise the Western world.
Far from it; the way forward is not to head back. Without the industrialised west, we would not have the wonders of modern medicine, we would not have the means to feed such a ridiculous population (arguably, do we? I tend to think that we are capable of feeding humanity, yet tend treat our food stocks inefficiently and thus let far too much spoil while many starve – all the while we know that we are capable of incredible storage and shipment of this food.. so it is debatable, true), we are able to travel further/quicker, protect ourselves better from the elements and natural disasters and when political jargon is given a kick up the arse, we are also able to move quickly to assist others following such events.
I personally love Adelaide’s night life; seeing live music or a comedian, getting a nice meal at one of the great restaurants on Gouger St or Rundle St; wondering around while the Fringe is on and capturing what I can of the local and worldwide art. I love the modern west Mr. Minchin and most of the wonders available to us came about through the same principles that have led to our understanding of our changing climate; you got it – science! Science is the building blocks of the industrial world.
I could not imagine anything worse than trading a bag of carrots with the neighbour for a lamb, which I then have to kill and gut myself. I like my jeans and my various t-shirts over skins and roughly woven threaded cloth. This lefty certainly isn’t advocating the destruction of the industrial west!
Sure our system of economy breeds gluttony and greed and this tends to cause the occasional trip-up (euphemism, yeah I know), but it more or less works as a baseline and can be improved upon. This won’t come from the ideology of the ultra-conservatives, nor will it from fantasies of utopia or wonderful little hobbit-styled villages.
It must be the work of open-minded experts across a wide range of fields and experiences that debate over the principles of western society that take us beyond this point and to a more sustainable, industrialised society better prepared to meet the needs of our environment and society. By experts I mean scientists, policy makers, industry leaders and the people that have the feet of the ground; the farmers, many different public servants, even parents. It would take all these people working together and trying to understand their part in the larger picture.
You don’t need to say anything; I realise just how unlikely that is to occur – it’s hard enough to get two people to see eye-to-eye.
De-industrialising our societies will just lead to our extinction or eventually ending up at this point again… I don’t think any reasonable individual truly believes that returning to a life style centuries old would lead to a great improvement (this obviously includes individuals with dogmatic fantasies of an Omni-potent protector). Just take a good look at history; the majority died young, suffered malnutrition, were victim to a whole host of infections and a tyrant had a better chance of being ignored by other countries while brutalising the locals.
Believing that we have improved on that is different to believing that we’ve achieved our goals. We’re still growing, learning and evolving as societies and this makes sense.
The collapse of communism was a lesson into what not to do. There may or may not be benefits in communist principles as there may or may not be in any social structure – that has been debated elsewhere and will no doubt continue to be. We’re learning and that’s a good thing… “See no evil” conservatism just leaves us ignorant and unable to better address social issues, thus unable to improve.
As for the “extreme left”, Mr. Minchin; there are also people that can be considered the “extreme right” who believe that the worldwide scientific community have secretly developed a massive conspiracy, stretching generations, all to one day grow fat on the fear of global warming… the sheer logistics make it completely ridiculous and yet there are enough of these idiots on blogs, in news media and even self-proclaimed “experts” country hopping in an attempt to spread this gospel of epic mad science.
In any case, extremists should be ignored, but not reason, logic and common sense!
To sum it all up;
- I am in the strong left,
- I worry about our changing climate and our ability to meet these changes,
- I do not wish to de-industrialise the west, rather build on our industrial success and knowledge to become more sustainable and adaptive,
- I personally couldn’t care less as to what social structure is successful or not – it is all part of our development and achieving a more efficient system.
And no, Nick Minchin, the environment is not my religion, it is the place in which I live and just like any home, I believe in caring for it in a meaningful way so it will remain in the best possible condition for as long as it is in my care.