Intermission: Save Ourselves! Innovation is key to the survival of our society, Pt. 9

Victor Harbour, 2004

The next part of this piece will be far more open to debate than the previous part, as it will be more opinion based, rather than evidence based. I believe that I more or less think like an ecologist, rather than an economist and so will argue about innovation from this perspective and from similar resources. The road forward is far from clear, however, I feel that the previous parts to this piece has made a strong enough case that business-as-usual is on the way out and without properly addressing these issues sooner, rather than later, we run the risk of ever increasing species loss, being unable to meet the energy and food needs of our species, increasing the risk of illness due to pollution, environmental degradation and a reduction in ecological services and an inability to adapt to climate related changes.

Before I begin on this opinion based part, I wish to make clearer to the reader who I am and what I stand for. This is in part due to some of the criticism I’ve faced recently and also to give an indication of my motivations in the coming sections.

About me

It’s difficult for me to find the root to my views. The best that I can suggest is that I have always been fascinated by everything. Even as a young child, if something broke in the house, instead of it being thrown out, I tended to steal it and pull it to bits, just to try to work it out. In that respect, as a teenager, I showed more ability in physics, chemistry, maths and electronics. Although I was always interested in bugs and collected hundreds to my parents continuous horror, I never had more than a casual interest in biology (I even remember the resentment I felt when a biology teacher started referring to organs, all these strange enzymes and Latin derived scientific names for species – I hated how difficult it all way to remember).

I turned my back on high school at the beginning of the final year. It thought I could do better in a traineeship. That didn’t pan out (another story – also involving my son’s mother) and when 20, I returned to complete high school. I figured at this point that I would aim for astrophysics or electronics; I was still absolutely amazed by technology.

Skink, Morialta falls, 2003

However, something had changed in the few years. I had become a bit of a fitness junky. Hiking and exploring – especially for the isolation – had given me a new sense of connection with my local landscape. It had also been picked up by one of the best teachers I had come by at this point, that I had a form of dyslexia.

So by the time I actually finished high school, new worlds of literature and ecology had opened up to me, which shifted me towards biodiversity and conservation at university. Much that I remembered from my youth; the text books I had (my parents often gave me non-fiction books as presents because I was more likely to read them than fiction), the fascinating look into the world on Beyond 2000, and even the few whims into environmental concern inspired by Greenpeace and WWF campaigns mainly around the late 80’s and early 90’s; all seemed to concrete this wonderful interest in the world. It was also throughout my teens that I spent time in Far North Queensland and feel in love with the Daintree and Great Barrier Reef.

My interest in technology (especially the history on invention) had not waned, however. As I saw it, we have developed dramatically over the previous two centuries, but being beyond a life span, most people seemed to feel that what we had was “the real world” and not the product of amazing minds and abundant energy. We seemed to be unable to appreciate the amount of change that we have created to landscapes. Such ventures away from suburbia and into remnant vegetation seemed to instil this deeply into my being. What irritated me most was the effects of invasive species (for they were invaders on the few areas that we had assumed to be “protecting”).

Near Seacliff, 2002

I figured that I’d like to work with invasive species management and environmental corridor establishment, so that we could better live in balance with our local environment. Such work is in short supply however. I ended up working in air quality monitoring for the government. It was within this position that I became aware of a number of impacts within my home state, such as; dry land salinity / acidity, the poor health of the Murray Darling Basin, sea grass loss and over fishing, species loss and landscape use changes (mainly for sprawl), eco-efficiency, human health-related concerns to air quality, and climate change (relating very much, at this point, to the ongoing drought, weather pattern changes, BOM climate predictions and concerns relating to agriculture and future water security) to name a few off the top of my head. In this way, I became concerned about future food supply and learnt more about local agriculture. It also learnt in this period what it meant to collect and explore data and report on it in a politically appropriate fashion. Without elaborating, this lesson also left a strong impression on me.

I don’t think I need to elaborate too much more, as the bulk of the views I’ve developed from here on are clear throughout my writings.

The points made in the first section are based on some of the available literature. I’ve seen a lot more and have talked with a wide number public employees and stakeholders who have a strong opinions and relevant experiences with a number of these issues. I’m the first to admit that until late last year, I was fairly ignorant to the AGW debate and was more or less in the thick of discussions regarding the future of biodiversity, agriculture and our species.

It was when I listened to a presentation by Monckton last year, and the support that he seemed to have, that I decided that had to write within this blog. It was also about this time that some failed farmer went on a hunger strike because he wasn’t allowed to continue poor quality practices.

The Bullet

It is propaganda that fuels the idea the climate change is a myth. It is propaganda that suggests that the IPCC and company are trying to de-industrialize the west and reap massive profits at the common folk’s expense.

Mt Lofty, 2002

It is ignorant to all that I have written and will write to suggest that I condone a collapse of our society. I simply argue that; the world is changing, although fossil fuels can continue to assist us – oil will forever increase in price, gas is far too valuable to be burnt and coal has inspired the horribly ecologically damaging mountain top removal (which will be detrimental to human health) and also is incredibly important in steel production (something I’ll discuss later), species loss is poor addressed at the detriment to both biodiversity and human health, agricultural practices are largely inadequate and short sighted, there is an unjust stigma surrounding environmental concern (ie. “damn tree-huggers”), and an unmerited and totally trivial debate over one aspect (ie. AGW) of a range of related issues that are doing a world of damage and ensuring that we will not provide the best possible land to future generations.

I hate the greeny “save the planet” jargon. It means nothing. No matter how much damage we do to the Earth, short of the unlikely all out nuclear war, we are unlikely to destroy the Earth. We would, without a doubt make this planet uninhabitable for human life before we destroy it. In our wake, give it a few million years, life would prosper again. What “save the planet” fails to do is address the cause and effect. What we’re really talking about is ensuring our own survival; Save Ourselves (indeed from ourselves). A statement like this brings home the reality of the situation and removes the stigma. This argument is the true argument and is largely lost under a sea of political and ideological nonsense.

What I plan by writing this is not to follow the hopeless dreamers like Gore, but correctly address the situation. We will not de-carbonate our energy supply in the next decade and I doubt we will manage to keep CO2 concentrations below 450ppm. However, bickering over trivial uncertainties associated with AGW could mean the difference of peak CO2 concentrations of 500ppm or 800ppm and massive differences in potential species loss.

It is only through being a realist that we can take appropriate steps to address a changing world and not through idealism. What I’ve said to this point is the reality. The uncertainties can be ignored in the noise surrounding the certainties. If we are going to live up to this image that we egotistically hold of our species; that of the custodians and dominant species on this planet, then we need to pull our socks up and face the facts. Otherwise we are nothing more than a plague and like all plagues, we will hit a population collapse sooner or later.


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