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Issue #1677      March 18, 2015

Editorial

The science is undeniable

The environmental crisis has been largely created by the rapacious exploitation of the Earth’s resources. The response of governments in the developed capitalist countries such as Australia is all about safeguarding profits over the needs of the environment. In Australia, the effects of climate change are real and happening now. Soil salination, desertification and deforestation, pollution of the air and freshwater systems, destruction of waterways and a major loss of biodiversity began after the country’s occupation by Britain in 1788.

Conversion to a sustainable economy will bring healthier economic outcomes and a healthier environment. In addition, sustainable production requires more workers, not less. And we are now dealing with a federal government which is unabashed in its climate change denial.

Scientists the world over are calling on urgent action on climate change. Here in Australia last week a group of top scientist published an open letter over the name of Dr Andrew Glikson, earth and paleoclimate science, Australian National University and 74 distinguished scientists and academics.

It states: “We are concerned the 2015 Intergenerational Report underestimates the serious threat of global warning. Based on the basic laws of physics, direct measurements and empirical observations in nature, the current rise in atmospheric greenhouse gases by about 40 percent since the 19th century is inducing a shift in the state of the atmosphere-ocean-land-ice sheets system, seriously endangering future generations, and nature’s life-support systems.”

They continue, “Our concern is based on the scientific peer-reviewed literature as summarised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and on observations by the world’s national science academies and geophysical research societies of leading nations, including Australia.”

They warn, “At the current emission rate, carbon dioxide concentration would rise to about 480 parts per million by 2055, threatening the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets and approaching conditions that existed on the planet about 2.6 million years ago, before the appearance of the genus Homo.”

The CPA proposes some of basic steps that need to be taken to confront the looming disaster:

  • Develop a national energy plan, with legislated timetables and targets, for transition to an ecologically sustainable energy system;
  • Nationalisation of Australia’s electricity generation, distribution and supply infrastructure;
  • Massively invest in research and development of alternative renewable energy resources under public ownership. Transfer of government subsidies from the fossil and nuclear sectors to energy efficiency and renewable energy and conversion programs;
  • Make energy efficiency and conservation key determinants of urban planning and central to government economic and industry policy.

The need to act is urgent. The crisis is already causing immense human suffering and death, while diminishing resources threaten global peace and security.

Torture charges

A UN Special Rapporteur on Torture report has confirmed the Abbott government’s mistreatment of asylum seekers. The report showed the government has been breaching global anti-torture conventions. PM Abbott, in response, said that the country was “sick of being lectured to by the United Nations”. The first thing to be noted about that is now Australia is no longer on the UN Security Council the government has returned to its UN bashing.

As for his claim in the same response that “we have stopped the boats, and by stopping the boats we have ended the deaths at sea”: what he doesn’t say is that the boat arrivals simply go or are taken elsewhere. Rather than stopping deaths at sea he is placing deaths elsewhere. Abbott doesn’t say where the boats have gone, just that for all appearances they have stopped coming to Australia.

As human rights lawyer Julian Burnside put it last week: “It is a matter of profound regret to see where the country is being taken by a man whose defining characteristics are bullying and dishonesty.”

Next article – Increased US aggression against Venezuela – Statement CPA

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