Perspective

Loved this counterweight to short-termism on the economic front.

AW-friont-420x0

Read the story linked to that graph by all means, but I get enough of a charge out of just looking at the fact that the biggest spenders in recent years were the Howard governments.

Meanwhile, I am of two minds about The Greens still. Today Bob Brown’s exercise in self-canonisation epitomised all that annoys me about him and so many like him.

st_brown-420x0

History is full of this. Gandhi and Mandela went to jail. Martin Luther King was assassinated. Jesus Christ turned up at the businessmen’s tables and look what happened to him. Anti-slavery campaigner John Brown’s ”body lies mouldering in the grave” and suffragette Emily Davidson was killed when she ran in front of the horses at the 1913 Epsom Derby…

So it was that Christine Milne, David Bellamy and I and nearly 1500 others were jailed in Tasmania 30 years ago for getting in the way of premier Robin Gray’s legal bulldozers….

Sadly David Bellamy is now a notorious climate change skeptic, but still and all I do side with Bob’s causes pretty much. Trouble is his article today has that Jesus/Gandhi/Bob thing going that rather makes me puke than cheer. Or am I just an evil bastard. But Bob seems to have been writing on autopilot today and the tone does stick in my craw. It could be called smug. Or puritanical. By some.

He’d have been better off referring is to Bill McKibben 2012/2013 rather than James Hansen 1988 – much as I admire James Hansen.

Robert F Kennedy Jr:           The CEO of Chevron gave an interview this week in which he said that there is really no future in solar, wind and that we should stop subsidizing these industries and that the subsidies going to the industries were grotesque.  At the same day, the National Energy Agency released the numbers for the global subsidies to the oil industry which were $582 billion compared to around $80 million dollars to the renewables industry and this does not include, by the way, the externalities, not the direct subsidies.  The war in Iraq.  The BP oil spill.

Bill McKibben:                 That’s the tax that you throw into the atmosphere for free.  That’s the biggest subsidy of all that we just turn over the atmosphere to them for free.  Your listeners will be pleased to know, I’m sure, that and I’m sure they are fretting about this that in the course of the fiscal cliff negotiations the massive tax subsidies to the fossil fuel industry were preserved intact .  No worries, no tears need be shed for Shell, BP, Exxon at all.  They did just fine as always.

Robert:           Chevron announced a $24 billion profit.  That’s not revenues, but that’s pure profit for this year.  The use of the most profitable industry in the history of humankind of commerce and they are still getting these giant subsidies from governments because of the political clout that they’re able to exercise.  How do we demonize them?

Bill:                 That’s why we’re working very hard on this divestment campaign which is spreading beyond campuses elsewhere.  The first city last week in the country, Seattle, to announce that it was divesting its city funds from fossil fuel industries and increasingly religious denominations are doing the same.  The Congregationists and the Unitarians are leading the charge here.  This is all very good news.  It has to be taken on in a big way and we need more than our small forces at 350.org fighting.  We’re doing everything that we can, but this is the movement of our time and unless we get people fully engaged.  People willing to go to jail.  People willing to spend their lives on it, I’d say our odds are slim.

Robert:           It’s hard working with these pension funds because the oil industry is undeniably profitable for its investors and unlike South Africa which was rather easy to divest in back in the ‘70s, these are the hottest stocks in the world and if you go to somebody who’s managing the pension funds for firefighters or for teachers and they have a fiscal responsibility to the members to make sure that that fund grows enough to pay for their retirement, it’s hard for them to get out of those oil stocks.

Bill:                 Of course the fiduciary responsibility of those guys is to make sure that there will be a way for people to retire and there’s something deeply ironic about investing in stocks in companies whose business plan guarantees that the planet’s going to tank.  It’s at least as ironic as trying to pay for people’s education by investing in companies that pretty much guarantee there won’t be a planet for them to carry out that education on.  None of this is easy.  If it was easy, I suppose we would have done it.  It’s hard.  It’ll be a hard job.  The only thing harder and it’ll be much harder is trying to inhabit successfully and profitably the world that we’ll create if we don’t get to work really soon.

Note also Miners lobbied O’Farrell to pull the plug on legal centre (typical) but also Keep dreaming, boys…..

What can one say of such day-dreaming which, if implemented, would mean every superannuation member in Australia that indirectly owns shares in BHP or other coal-digging companies is suddenly personally liable for climate change? There is a kind of charming naivety and optimism about such legalistic-bureaucratic ‘solutions’ to climate externalities. If only we can punish those nasty shareholders (i.e. most Australians over the age of 30) and finally have proper investments in renewables, all will be well!

But will we really self-destruct the capitalist system by taking away the limited liability construct that has underlain its financing for 400 years? And would full-liability entities (like governments) really do anything different from companies when it came to energy investments in the absence of some world climate police who made them comply with whatever some all-measuring central world committee decided was palatable? Don’t bet on it…

So what you are really looking at is yet another variation of the big world-bureaucracy solution to the climate-change problem, complete with transfer of national sovereignty to whomever decides on how high the externalities are and who is to blame for them, complete with the overthrow of the capitalist system. Keep dreaming, boys, but know this: allowing yourself to live in lala-land by pretending the world political system is yours to dictate does not help the planet’s ecosystem one iota.

Advertisements