Here Today Gone Tomorrow
The forces of conservatism and resistance have risen once again on the back of the global economic downturn, a disaster of their own creation, and are only too happy to say we cannot afford a carbon tax or to invest in more renewable sources of energy right now. Putting off the needs of tomorrow for the apparently more urgent demands of today. As a generalisation you can say that the world is broken up into two groups: on the one hand you have your managers who respond to what is in front of their faces and on the other you have visionaries, who consider the future and the ramifications of today’s inaction. We had a brief period in the two years before the GFC when the visionaries grabbed the ear of the public and held sway, crying out loudly for dramatic action on climate change. In times of sustained plenty the people in the West may afford a moment to listen to the murmurings of visionaries but in times of need they are deaf but to their own demands of assistance.
The political cycle makes it exceedingly difficult for governments to achieve anything, as they too soon face electoral backlash for any unpopular legislation. We are ruled by short-term self-gratification, and even that self-gratification is not true gratification, as we clamour for band-aid relief not real satisfaction. People in the over-crowded cities in the West are playing a game, like rats in a cage, working at jobs they often dislike to pay off mortgages they cannot afford. The self-interest they display is often not deeply thought out but a knee-jerk reaction to make sure they don’t miss out. Nobody is offering them a real choice in this debate, well not an easy one anyway.
Have you noticed how government leaders everywhere are looking younger and are especially groomed for TV appearances: in the UK with their new conservative PM David Cameron, Obama in the US and here in Australia Julia Gillard. Are these leaders anymore effective, as they give off the impression of more youthful vigour? No I would posit that they are actually more ineffective and less likely to have the courage of their convictions – if they could locate a conviction. Often they are controlled by the backroom, party room leaders, who must live out their ambitions vicariously as the puppet masters – being too ugly for TV appearances themselves.
The media is to blame, as they fan the fires of narcissism in these politicians with every day being a list of photo opportunities. A visual medium reducing the act of government to a series of bad TV commercials. Perhaps we are all helpless in the hands of technology and our unquestioning acceptance of the latest innovation leaves us with no backbone at all. Twitter, mobile phones, computers, television, radio – it is like a timeline of the getting of superficiality. Politics, has of course, always had its degree of artifice but that share has grown exponentially in the last few decades.
Scientists themselves – are the tests and studies designed to prove global warming a concerted effort to appear to be in control of the essentially uncontrollable? Is science a conceit in itself – this desperate need to measure everything and to advertise some understanding of life itself? Aren’t we kidding ourselves if we really think that we exert some measure of control or influence over the Earth? Ice ages have come and gone, global warmings have appeared and disappeared and yes have been cataclysmic, but is humankind able to avert a disaster of this magnitude?
We as humanity live on the surface of a planet which is thousand’s of kilometres deep and we know very little really about what happens down there. Even the weather is immensely powerful and science presumes to know much more than it actually does. We are fair weather friends to the Earth and don’t really want to know unless it adversely impacts on our lifestyle choices. I imagine the dinosaurs felt pretty powerful too and living anywhere for a longtime gives a sense of ownership doesn’t it? I am all in favour of reducing our environmental imact upon the Earth but lets not kid ourselves about saving the planet – it is going to be here or not independent of us. We are a scourge to ourselves more than anything else.