Home' Nova National : August 2010 Contents Climate Code Red?
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become the 500th Fairtrade town. Fairtrade
towns meet five goals, where communities
are helping shopping to become more
ethical, more linked to the needs and true
labour and environmental costs of Third
World farmers. There are Fairtrade Schools
now, too, Fairplay sport, and Fairtrade
fortnights ahead. And the Third World
producers connecting with this Fairtrade
movement can sleep easier, comforting
their own children that they have a future.
At the time of writing, BP has finally
The lack of urgency in media coverage doesn't deny the fact of climate emergency on
our doorstep, says Adrian Glamorgan. What might it take to wake the world up?
capped, if only for the moment, its disaster
in the Gulf of Mexico. But the change also
starts with little steps. David Gershon's
Low Carbon Diet: A 30 day program to
lose 2000 kilos is a fun, practical and
achievable manual. Connecting self, family,
community and nature creates a new way
of being alive, less tethered by the material
restraints of consumerism.
There are such practical moments, big
and little, to hope. But there is also the
climate emergency ahead. Like the frog
oblivious to the warming beaker, we can
find a moral torpor and slow mindedness
to much current public debate about
climate change. A study by Climate Analytics
in Germany says there is "virtually no
chance" the world will keep temperature
rise to below 2 degrees Celsius, as mooted
to be agreed to at Cancun in December.
According to Climate Analytics, by 2100,
temperatures will rise to 3.5 degrees,
which means that any hoped for increase
in food production from 2 degree warming
at lower latitudes will be wiped out, with
much more than the 20-30% loss of species,
and the wholesale loss of the Greenland
ice sheet. Four degrees is tipped to be the
point of mass extinctions around the globe.
Yet if we are to believe the major
political figures of our day, climate change
is a matter to be dealt with eventually.
Anything more pressing than that, we are
promised vague measures, not urgently,
by means unclear and without sacrifice to
our economy. If climate change measures
should dare to cost energy corporations,
well, let's wait until the rest of the world
does something, in the fullness of time. If
carbon polluters are to feel the pinch, let's
heavily subsidise them, so they don't feel --
or for that matter, change -- a thing.
The conventional media has a key
responsibility for this. Rather than
explaining the ETS (Emissions Trading
Scheme), the networks and daily
newspapers reduced the debate to a clash
of school debaters in Parliament House. A
carbon tax, which is looking like it could
be a realistic option, is not discussed. Of
course, the media loves drama, and conflict,
because as casual spectators it gives its
readers and viewers a simple prop to
follow the story. But at a time of complexity,
journalists could serve us well by reporting
on solutions to a new paradigm issue.
Instead, the significant issue is reduced to
the mild and baffling elbowing of political
egos. This is not about who is leader of
what party, this year. It is about how we
can transform our economy and
consciousness to generate sustainability, for
the next few hundred years. Right now the
planet is warming, and warming. We need
to find ways out of this. We need solutions.
Apart from the absence of depth
or explanation, "balance" in reporting
produced by mainstream journalists and
subeditors, only perpetuates and promotes
the work of a small number of climate
sceptics who cross-quote each other,
without much scientific weight, as if it
weighs up equally against the thousands
of peer-reviewed scientists from many
disciplines (not the coal lobby!) who
discern, in biodiverse niches and from
Sydney Harbour to Macquarie Island, from
the Arctic tundra bioregions to Andean
glaciers, something is terribly wrong. If this
contrast, between deniers and the weight
of science, is allowed to be called balance,
we are being seriously and systematically
diverted from the issue of our lifetime.
A more honest or at least socially
useful media balance would accept the
overwhelming evidence of climate change,
and explore the merits of two significantly
different climate change camps within this
scientific consensus (occasionally tracking
the few voices to the contrary.) Instead of
the media focusing on climate sceptics,
the debate becomes: Can we transform
towards sustainability steadily, or are we
in an emergency, requiring immediate
The slow-but-sure camp would argue
that if measures are taken now, steadily,
and the world joins together in mutually-
supporting action, we can continue as we
are now -- just using cars that are more fuel
efficient, and manufacturing with cleaner
In Bogata, Columbia, each Sunday is
Ciclovia, a car-free day bringing the
poor and rich folk of the city together
in a celebration of bicycling, street
vending, providing moments to promenade
down the open avenues: a South American
happening. There are even BikeWatch
athletes to help fix your bike if you break
down. And among this weekly gaiety the
city breathes free.
In Britain, there are five towns from
Scotland, England and Wales vying to
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