It’s about Our Future

The ‘Our Future’ vision for Geelong is a challenge of a lifetime – but we can do it.

Geelong is about to find out whether politics and votes can be determined not by the usual short-term election promises which everyone knows are unlikely to be fulfilled anyway, but by daring to talk about our important and game-changing long-term goals for the region – and about which values will define those choices that we have to make today.

The job with writing a 30-year vision for Geelong as a clever and creative city-region is done. Now we need the new council and the city-region’s 230,000 residents to implement it. That is a challenge of a lifetime for this city.

The first step on the journey is to confirm our commitment. We need to express loud and clear as a city that we want this to happen. I’m personally not in doubt that we can do it – but it will require that enough of us show confidence in the vision and actually believe that we can do it.

It’s great to observe that the logical shift to more modern, cleaner and greener life styles and work places are already folding out everywhere. Carbon neutrality, zero waste, One Planet Livingit’s all happening in Geelong.

Currently it is only political, not technological barriers that are holding us back from scaling and speeding up the transition. Politics – that’s basically a question about people and opinion polls, which means that everyone, where we are, has a role to play.

It’s time to cut the fossil fuel funded nonsense and transition whole-heartedly to healthier, smarter and better ways of doing things, powered by clean renewable energy sources.

This blogpost raises some issues to be aware of as we move forward. The aim is to open a conversation about what our highest and most ambitious goals are with the new Our Future vision for our city.




Saying “Scrap the carbon tax!” and “Stop the boats!” again and again did wonders for Tony Abbott. He won a federal election victory in 2013 by repeating those two simple slogans. Scrapping the carbon tax of course didn’t reduce families’ electricity bills with those $550 annually he had promised the Australians. That was just an election scam, as energy experts had explained it already at the time.

Now, four years later, the figures clearly show how Australia is paying the price for being fooled by Abbott – as not only the electricity prices, but also the country’s carbon emissions have been rising ever since – and the bill for climate change related damages and deaths escalates year after year. Scrapping the carbon tax was a useless exercise, except for the polluters.

Deloitte Access Economics values the Great Barrier Reef at $56 billion, with an economic contribution of $6.4 billion per year, an asset which is now in the process of being destroyed by climate change. Mismanagement of carbon pollution is the reason for this loss, but there are too many politicians who over the decades have been responsible for this failure. We have nowhere to send the bill – and money won’t bring the coral reefs back, once they are gone.

The truth is that fast transition to zero carbon emissions – which for the first part of the journey could have been sensibly and responsibly managed with a carbon tax – is our only way forward if we want to avoid the creation of an unstoppable stream of boat refugees from collapsed societies in Australia’s Pacific and Asian surroundings.

Which is why I suggest we could upcycle Abbott’s two slogans merged into one, as a reflection on the connection there is between our carbon emissions, climate change, global warming, sea level rise and boat refugees:

Scrap the carbon and prevent more boats

Politics is much too often about what we want to avoid. What we say no to. Stop this, scrap that! It’s easy to understand. It is much harder to sell a positive vision for which kind of world it is we want to live in. Which future we want to create. Because how do you visualise it? How do you compress it into three- or four-word sentences? Regardless, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done, because it is a conversation we simply need to have – as a people, as a nation, and locally in Geelong: as a city.

A lot of residents of Geelong have been busy doing just that over the last year, as part of an ‘Our Future’ exercise, attempting to write a 30-year vision for the region by asking for input and opinions from 16,000 local residents. It has been brilliant journey which has the potential to become a very concrete policy platform for the new council, which the city will elect in October 2017. That is, if the citizens of Geelong vote a group of councillors in who have endorsed the vision.

It is a serious problem with Australia’s three levels of government – local, state and federal – that politics tend to be dominated by day-to-day topics such as electricity prices and parking rules, while no candidates talk about why three million Australians are living with anxiety or depression, or – considering that Australians are the world’s highest per capita carbon polluters – about how urgent it is now that we get our air pollution under control and start living within the limited recourses of our planet.

When electricity prices were going up in South Australia recently, my birth country Denmark was suddenly mentioned in the Australian news because it is apparently the country with the highest electricity prices in the world. No one cared to mention, though, that at the same time as the Danes pay those high electricity prices – and generally pay very high taxes as well – the United Nation’s researchers have found, year after year, that the Danes also happen to rank among the happiest people on the entire planet.

The point here is that if we should be worried about things that threaten the quality of our lives, rising electricity prices is apparently not one of them.

When the UN World Happiness Report announced in March 2016 that Denmark once again ranked as ‘the happiest country in the world’ – the third time the Scandinavian country topped the UN list since it was introduced in 2012 – it was explained that happiness is more closely linked to social equality and community spirit rather than how much money you earn or how big a car you drive – or, for that matter, how much you have to pay for a kilowatthour of electricity.

“High taxes might play an important role in securing Danes’ happiness. They help level the playing field, making Denmark a relatively egalitarian country where the costs of health care, college education and child care are shared. To quote the 18th century Danish thinker Nikolaj Grundtvig, Denmark is a country where “few have too much, and even fewer have too little.”

In some countries, a large public sector might be considered a drawback, but the Danes appear comfortable with the arrangement. The UN report also found Danes express trust in their government and enjoy low levels of corruption in the public and private sector.”
~ Visit Denmark: The secret of the happy Danes

According to the Australian Unity Wellbeing Survey, having good relationships, financial control and a sense of purpose in life make up the “golden triangle of happiness”.

In the annual World Happiness Report key measures of human welfare include generosity, a healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices and freedom from corruption.

“The World Happiness Report continues to draw global attention around the need to create sound policy for what matters most to people – their well-being. As demonstrated by many countries, this report gives evidence that happiness is a result of creating strong social foundations. It’s time to build social trust and healthy lives, not guns or walls. Let’s hold our leaders to this fact.”
~ Jeffrey Sachs, The World Happiness Report’s co-editor and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University


“The good life is built with good relationships”: TED-talk by psychiatrist Robert Waldinger about the 75-year study that shows what good relationships and being socially connected means.


“Social isolation is the public health risk of our time”
Susan Pinker, psychologist

» TED talk – April 2017:
The secret to living longer may be your social life


Goals
Equality. Community spirit. Good relationships. Trust. Low level of corruption. Purpose in life. Meaning. We humans thrive when we feel our lives are meaningful.

Why aren’t Australian politicians more occupied with pursuing goals such as these, if that is what global research tells us are required for living good, happy lives?




As far as I have seen, the value of meaning – of knowing what’s worth fighting for – has not received any attention or even mention in the current political debate in this country. So here is my proposal: building a better and more connected community on goals such as these, is a project worth pursuing. It is worth investing lots of time, efforts and money in. But it can only be done, if we are a lot of people who decide to get together around this.

Is there a clear-cut recipe for how we find purpose and quality in our lives? No – there are numerous! However, they all tend to have some things in common. One thing they have in common, for instance, is that we humans thrive and feel content when we have a strong network of good people around us, when our relationships are of strong and lasting quality, and when we live in communities where we feel safe, secure and connected.

When we talk about long-term goals – as residents in Geelong region have done it over the last year, while creating the Our Future Vision for the city – this has to be part of that long-term parcel. We need to ask ourselves: What’s most important in life? What makes us happy? What is really worth fighting for? – and we must keep asking until we manage to come up with meaningful answers.

ReGen Villages



Which code-language do we use?
When I moved to Australia four years ago together with my wife and three small children, I thought of this country as a highly civilised, democratic and relatively rich part of the Western world. As a journalist I had worked in areas of immigrant legislation and human rights policies, and Australian authorities and organisations had impressed me by showing world class leadership in some of these areas. Australia appeared to me to be an open, educated society consisting of intelligent, healthy and sports-loving people.

Then, as a resident, I learned how politics and business run in this country. And I learned that even though the politician, business owners and celebrities on the tv channels all seem to be millionaires, a full 2.9 million Australians are actually currently living below the internationally accepted poverty line.

As years went by, I started to get this nagging feeling that I had actually landed in more of a remote and isolated banana republic, or what we used to call The Wild West: the kind of place where it is money and guns that do the talking, and where people don’t trust each other for that same reason. A place where the democratic game is just a masquerade, because in reality it is your wealth, not your values or your vote-count, which define your ability to make decisions and push your personal world-view through.

The glossier the tie, the thinner the morals. For instance, the experience of buying a house in this country was an eye-opening cultural shock. As were my experiences with various tradesmen and the way they do their work. From what I hear, car dealers and the mining industry run on similar ‘banana-republic’ principles – or lack of principles – where various levels of cheating, deception and cutting corners are the customary, not the exception.

Bribery and shady mafia methods define how major planning decisions in the city turn out. Trust is non-existent, because the name of the game here is to fill your pockets and cater for yourself and your own family, while catering for the common good and activating projects that will benefit the population as a whole is only done halfheartedly or purely for cosmetic reasons. “Trust no one. Grab what you can when you get the chance.” And obviously, pay as little in tax as possible. The bigger the company and its annual turnover, the more it will excel in paying zero or close to zero tax.

And as for the health and sport-loving people, I soon discovered how addicted Australians have become to their cars and convenience in general, making more than two thirds of the population obese.

It made me interested in values. I found out, among other things, that the high level of trust that the Danes have to one another apparently is something that can be traced over a thousand years back to values among the Vikings. Trust is not something that can be created in a society over-night.

If we want to see long-term progress and positive change in our community – as the city-region of Geelong has been busy talking about while it drafted its vision of becoming a Clever and Creative City-Region – then discussing which values such a vision is going to be based on – and whether these values are already present in the community or they have to be cultivated or reinvented – is more important than people seem to realise. It is as significant as which code-language you choose to write your software in. I’d say it’s the basics that will define whether we will be successful in carrying out this vision or not.

» More about trust in my blogpost from 22 February 2017:
Restore a safe climate? First we must restore trust





Two attitudes towards values
In this world, there are two types of people. Those who will stand up for their values and principles at no matter what cost. And those who just can’t bother – maybe because they are too busy with simply making ends meet, they are in “survival mode”, or maybe because of plain selfishness. They can’t see beyond their own nose tip and couldn’t care less about what happens to others than themselves.

After all, we live in an age which praises individualism – and where selfishness among certain groups has become a virtue, something to brag about on Facebook. I see it all around me in my local neighbourhood: Caring about yourself and your own little family unit is all that matters for many people in the Australian society.

In any modern, civilised society, you’ll find various blends of these two types, all depending on which kind of leadership there is in that society. So many things in life boil down to questions of leadership. When our leaders show they have integrity and stand up for their values, it inspires and enables the entire society to lift its game and do the same.

This is why we need to have a conversation about how our elected leaders – councillors as well as state and federal politicians – deal with our values.

If a country or a city is run by dodgy real estate dealers, salesmen and coal miners that have no values of honesty, trust, integrity, equality, reliability, being responsible and the rest – if they are sitting in their government chairs of power simply because of the influence they have acquired through their economic wealth, it reflects on how society runs all the way around.

So could we please have a public conversation about this? A time when Geelong could most relevantly indulge in that conversation would be in the coming months during the up-coming Council election.



Viggo Aidt

“Values matter most when it is least convenient.”
~ Dante Disparte



When integrity comes with a risk
In my family, we had a family member who stood up for his values and ended up with a seat in the Danish parliament directly because of it: My grandfather Viggo Aidt, a school principal, who became active in the resistance movement in Denmark during the Second World War.

In April 1940, Denmark was occupied by Hitler’s army, and the Danes officially accepted that occupation. So what my grandfather decided to get involved with was against the official Danish policy. At the time, it was not something he gained support, recognition or understanding for from his own network of friends and colleagues. He became a man in the business of blowing things up. Killing the Germans, while putting Danish lives at risk.

“Should that really be necessary?” the skeptic, peace-loving Danes around him were asking. No one really liked the Germans, but then again, to take it to the extent of risking lives was regarded as rather extreme. Basically everyone just wanted to get on with their lives while ducking their heads. Resistance was very inconvenient.

My grandfather’s leadership and legacy shaped and inspired who I am today. When we talk about values and taking action on one’s values, the stories my grandfather told me when I was young are very much part of my thinking today – about why we need to engage in the struggle for a safer climate on this planet as our governments – more discrete than Hitler did it – have been occupied by the fossil fuel industry.

Values define who you are as a human being. Viggo didn’t say this, but this was what I heard him saying: Among an entire nation of cowards and procrastinators, my grandfather was among those shockingly few who would stand up for his principles and values, and act accordingly.

Things turned around overnight when the war ended in May 1945. The resistance fighters who had been looked down at as disturbing and disruptive ‘rebels’ during the war years, were now suddenly praised as heroes of the nation. And now almost everyone was claiming to have somehow been part of the resistance movement.

After the war, my granddad was honoured for his role in the war with a seat in the Danish parliament, and in the following decades, as Denmark progressed as an independent, free and democratic country, he often reminded us, his family, that this freedom and democracy – principles he had fought and nearly died for – was never to just be taken for granted. At times, you must be prepared to stand up for it, even if it involves existential risks.

I thought of my grandfather the other day when I heard that Pope Francis had been saying that “Actions deemed acceptable in the past are a mortal sin now,” I thought: Is Pope Francis the Churchill of our time? If the answer is yes, then who are we? The procrastinators and the cowards?

I thought of him when I heard an Australian citizen, Tony Walker, ask this question to the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia in the ABC tv-show Q&A:

“You are on the record denying the science around climate change. The science clearly says that those blocking climate change action could end up with the deaths of many people, perhaps even millions, on their hands. I wonder if you ever worry about being wrong. And whether, after some catastrophic climate-related event, you ever worry about the prospect of facing a climate crimes tribunal. What would be your defence?”
~ Tony Walker’s question to Barnaby Joyce on Q&A

Pathetically, Barnaby Joyce couldn’t even bother to answer the question. Laughing about it was his only response. As if it was so far out that he couldn’t even imagine it as a possibility.

But here’s the thing: Things can turn around very quickly. Those who said “to hell with morals and values” and went for what for in a short span of time looked like the smart – or the quick, easy – way to gain wealth or political power, or both, those who placed themselves on the wrong side of history, mingling with criminal and selfish activities that hurt or deliberately kill others… from what I can tell, they will always be caught up sooner or later, by truth and by justice.

They may already have died from old age by the time this happens, but then their legacy of shame will just be even harder.

I think of my grandfather and his legacy when I listen to Ruth Mundy singing her song ‘Adani’ – I think she touches on the core of the issue we are talking about in this song:

‘Adani’
When you grow up and say to me,
“What did you do, to protect the world for me?”
When you say:
“Why, why are the coral reefs bleached,
the groundwater poisoned,
why are the oceans dead?”

I’ll say, “Well, we wanted to build a mine there,
By the Great Barrier Reef, yeah,
the biggest mine we could build, right there.”

So we paid a billionaire to screw your future up,
When you were too young to know.

And you’ll say, “Tell me at least that you tried to make it safe?
Tried to minimise the risks, or to make it worth your while?

And I’ll say, “Oh… this is a little awkward,
I guess looking back, in actual fact,
we gave public funds to someone known to be corrupt,
known for spilling coal and not cleaning up,
known for bribery and fraud,
known for tax evasion known for total devastation of villages and beaches, rivers and lives,
known for workers overworked and underpaid, known for workers half your age.”

When you grow up and say to me,
“What did you do, to protect the world for me?”
I’d like to hold my head high and say to you:
“I swear I did my best, my love, the rest is up to you.”

© Lyrics by Ruth Mundy. Released on 11 May 2017

» Buy the song – all proceeds will go to GetUp’s campaign to stop the Adani mega mine






How many Australians have made up their mind about which side of history they want to be on – and how they want to be remembered? According to polls, many more than we are made to believe! I’ll come back to that shortly.

Responsibility
I talked about trust before. Many of us are parents. In a normal, traditional world, one value I’d have thought would be on top of the list for any parent is to be a responsible parent. A parent who takes personal responsibility for that what we pass on to our children will not hurt them or hinder them in living a good life.

When we put children into this world, it is generally under the assumption that we have the intention to take good care of them. That we’d want the best for our little darlings.

As a parent of three small children, I personally believe it is my responsibility – my duty, actually – as a father to do all I can to make sure that they will have a safe future, and that they will have a good life. I’m passionate about that.

I know I can’t promise them “gold” or “glory”. I’m not rich on gold or dollars, and as for glory, I have seen that fame usually gives you more worries than pleasures. I know that I can’t even guarantee that they will grow up to have good, happy lives. What I can modestly work on, though – and to the best of my abilities – is to get them in sync and in tune with the big, spinning, modern world we live in. I can show them both its beauty and its dangers. I can teach them how to navigate, so that they don’t just “get by”, but so that they thrive and feel they live a life worth living, using all their potentials and seeing rewards and acknowledgements for it, while still keeping their feet firmly on the ground, in balance and in connection with their surroundings, the planet, ultimately the universe.

Without knowing what their future will look like, I can educate myself on what’s building up in the horizon and then try and prepare them for it. I can tell them, for instance, about what I believe are important ingredients in a recipe for a good life. I can show them what science says about that. After I have done that, they will then have to make their own choices.

At the same time, I am aware that people – and children – don’t listen to what you say, but what you do. Talking about how to live a meaningful life makes no sense if you are not yourself living one! Which is one reason why – after many years of just minding my own business – I have chosen to engage myself in building relationships and connecting with the community we live in. Being present, attending meetings, co-hosting a weekly community radio show. Together with others I find myself spending time, energy and money on projects that we hope will contribute to making this city and region an even better place to live. Its good fun in itself, but it is also a way of showing my kids what I have learned is a well established part of the official recipe to living a good, happy life as a human being: Community spirit and strong relationships.


ReGen Villages

“Imagine driving a car that never requires paying at the pump. Imagine tastier fruits and vegetables from a local farmer you know. Imagine biking or walking on paths to shortcut through traffic and easy access to plentiful public transit. This is the clean energy future. And it’s within our grasp. We can have locally made energy from the wind and the sun that ensures our air is clean and our water is healthy. We can have locally grown, tastier food; a traffic-free commute and a happy surprise when we open our energy bills — the choice is ours to make for a clean energy future.”
~ Quote from ‘Let’s Talk Climate: Messages to Motivate Americans’


The challenge

This five-minute animated video from 2010 pretty well sums up what our overall challenge is:

If you haven’t already seen it, I recommend you to spend five minutes watching this. You will learn something about energy and the challenges that still lie ahead of us.


One fight we need to get together around
Some people seem to think that it’s all about money. Money is what got us where we are, so money is what will make it all happen for our kids too. Focus on the money. Get them into a private school. Everything they do, every decision the make, is centered around one aspect or another of what money can do.

Others couldn’t care less about money as long as they have their basic needs covered. Money is only important to a certain level. Once you reach that level, engaging in humanity’s ongoing efforts to make this world a better place is considered more valuable than anything money can buy. So these people see this as goal for their kids as well: get them involved in the fight to ‘save the planet’.

Regardless of whether people fight for their material or their immaterial values, at this point on humanity’s timeline, both groups are apparently so caught up by their struggles, including the battling of each other on the political arenas, that the devastating threat of global warming is ignored.

But folks, here is the thing: Unless we manage to get it right with the climate very very soon, then everything else we have been fighting for will be lost, regardless of whichever group we belonged to. Be it money, humanity’s progress, human rights or something else that occupies us, we now risk losing all we gained through life times of hard work if suddenly, within a few years or a few decades, the food and water systems we rely on collapse. Which is exactly what our scientists warn us will happen if we don’t stop polluting and destroying the planet’s ecosystem.

The UN climate panel, the IPCC, has estimated that there is a 1.6 percent risk that the global average temperature will rise by six degrees Celsius with the amount of greenhouse gases we have in the atmosphere today. Such an increase will – when the ice melts – mean a water rise of 40 metres or more. It will change everything on Earth. A completely unacceptable consequence of humanity’s failure to stop polluting the atmosphere.

One could say that a 1.6 percent risk does not sound of much. But are we willing to we live with that risk? Imagine that we should accept a 1.6 percent chance of a plane crash every time we embarked on an airplane. That would mean that we should accept that 1,500 airplanes would go down every single day.

The Earth is already too hot at just over one degree Celsius of warming since pre-industrial times. In February 2016, average global temperature rise rose to over 1.6°C above pre-industrial levels. Here in Australia, half of the Great Barrier Reef has now been declared dead. Tipping points are being passed. The Antarctic ice is in unstoppable melt. The melting permafrost is venting greenhouse gases at an ever accelerating rate.

By the time my 12-year old son gets to be my age, around 55 years old, it will be 2060 and about 1.4 billion people will have had to relocate to escape rising seas levels, according to a recent study from Cornell University.

The paper predicts that by the end of this century, roughly one-fifth of the world’s population may become climate change refugees, and the majority of those will be people who live on coastlines around the world.

What I don’t get is why on Earth are we sleepwalking into this calamity? Changing the way we use energy and pollute the air may seem somewhat inconvenient, sure, but NOT changing looks like it will become the hell of a lot more inconvenient to everyone. Why are we willing to take this risk? How can we defend calling ourselves responsible parents and not act decisively on this threat?

There is only one plan which is ambitious enough to get us out of this mess: We need the fossil fuel industry out of our parliaments. Then we need our governments at all level to declare a climate emergency. Once they have done that, and most of us agree that we need to act accordingly, we can begin to actually deal with the threat.

That’s what 20,000 Australians and over 50 climate action campaign groups have been talking about for some time: www.climateemergencydeclaration.org

“We’re going to have more people on less land and sooner that we think. The future rise in global mean sea level probably won’t be gradual. Yet few policymakers are taking stock of the significant barriers to entry that coastal climate refugees, like other refugees, will encounter when they migrate to higher ground.”
~ Charles Geisler, professor emeritus of development sociology at Cornell University, and lead report author

The findings appear in the July 2017 issue of the journal Land Use Policy.

» Daily News – 27 June 2017:
Two billion people may become refugees from climate change by the end of the century

» Huffington Post – 27 June 2017:
Climate Change Could Threaten Up To 2 Billion Refugees By 2100

» Catholic Climate Movement – 28 July 2017:
2 Billion Could Become Climate Refugees From Rising Seas by 2100, Study Says


No one knows if or when our carbon emission experiment suddenly becomes a runaway out-of-control catastrophe. But we are told that nothing short of the strongest possible emergency measures can save human civilisation now – and even so, after decades of UN conferences on the topic, our politicians and media remain in complete denial, pretending is isn’t happening.

So why aren’t we up in arms about this, rushing to fix the problem? I find that very difficult to accept.

You can read quite a bit more about the bad news on climate change in this article:

» Centre for Climate Safety – 10 July 2017:
Coining the phrase of climate change

» Harvard Business Review – 12 June 2017:
Climate Change Will Be Expensive, Calculate the Cost of Letting It Happen



Manners and being responsible
If we consider ourselves to be responsible parents then it is our duty to help ensure that our own children, grandchildren and future generations will remain safe on this planet. As I heard someone saying recently, dealing with climate change is not an option, it is an obligation.

A simple example. If you have a ten-year-old son who always leaves the table without cleaning up after himself, what do you think would be a good idea to teach him?

How you clean up after yourself. How you take the plate, knife and fork to the sink or washing machine, how you wipe the table – and why? So that the place is nice to arrive at for the person coming after you.

This is a simple issue of manners. But it is more than that. It is a fundamental principle about how we treat others around ourselves. Whether we respect the fact that once we have left the table, someone else will be following.

It is the exact same principle we have to insist on comes at play with the way our lifestyle is wrecking our environment and the world we live in.

As a society, we have to understand that it is really bad manners not to be considering those who will come after us.

I see no difference between telling my son to clean up after himself and telling the fossil fuel industry to clean up after itself. There is no difference.

I see no difference between addressing a lie from a 10-year-old and addressing a lie from a powerful politician: Lying is wrong. And in particular when politics and influence come in play: no one is above the law.

Lying about climate change is in particular wrong, a mortal sin, as Pope Francis calls it, because it has consequences for millions of people, who will die violent and painful deaths as a consequence of it – unless we manage to steer through the web of lies that the fossil fuel industry and its puppets in parliaments have managed to spin around our planet.

Trump, Joyce… These men – and many more, unfortunately – are one day going to be held accountable for their crimes against humanity.



Gillian, who is seven years old, says “It’s pretty simple:”

And frankly, it really is. Politicians have the power to do what needs to be done. But even though they all know very well what the problems are and how we can fix them, they keep pretending this is a very complicated issue and very difficult to fix, and they deliberately use the confusion and doubt that misinformation campaigns sponsored by polluters have spread as an excuse to delay the otherwise sensible and logical transition away from polluting and destroying the planet’s ecosystems and climate.

In its essence, it is not complicated at all. We need more honest people like Gillan in politics – and like the Catholic Pope – who speak up and remind us about what needs to get done.

“There is huge concern about whether our children and grandchildren will be able to buy a house. But not whether said house will be under water or impossible to insure because of the frequency of extreme weather events.”

“There’s been a lot written in recent years on the idea that we are living in a “post-truth” world. Climate writer David Roberts brought it to my attention around 2010, when I was grappling with the idea that dinosaur politicians and rent-seeking corporates not only weren’t telling the truth about climate change and energy: they were actively dismissive and destructive of the very idea of truth.”
Tim Hollo, executive director of the Green Institute

» The Guardian – 8 July 2017:
Elon Musk’s big battery brings reality crashing into a post-truth world





“Josh Frydenberg, our ‘esteemed’ Minister for Environment and Energy, says that while emissions have been rising (as shown in figures that he has recently been forced to release) he was confident that Australia would achieve its emissions targets because “there is a rapid transition taking place” in our energy generation system. What he did not say was that the transition was taking place in spite of the COALition’s best efforts to stop it. Does he know no shame? Can anyone suggest words that would adequately describe these people and yet not be obscene?”
David K. Clarke

David K. Clarke wrote an extensive piece on what he calls the greatest crime in the history of humanity:

“I’ve written a net page in which I argue that dishonestly opposing renewable energy and supporting the fossil fuel industry is the greatest crime in the history of humanity. I’d be interested in constructive criticism.”
~ David K Clarke

» The Ramblings of a Bush Philosopher – 12 February 2017:
Greatest crime in the history of humanity

“If we wait for catastrophe to happen, as we are doing, it will be too late to act. Time is the most important commodity; to avoid catastrophic outcomes requires emergency action to force the pace of change. Australia, along with the Asian regions to our north, is now considered to be ‘disaster alley’; we are already experiencing the most extreme impacts globally. In these circumstances, opening up a major new coal province is nothing less than a crime against humanity.”
~ Ian Dunlop, former international oil, gas and coal industry executive, chairman of the Australian Coal Association and chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors

» Canberra Times – 18 May 2017:
This is not rhetoric: approving the Adani coal mine will kill people.



» Sydney Morning Herald – 13 June 2017:
The endangered elephant in the energy room
“Where is the environment in debates about climate change and energy?”


Given the current economics of cheap renewable energy versus expensive oil, you’d think that the fight for clean energy would be so eminently winnable. Both the Australian government and Trump have shown us otherwise. They think they can make people believe that it is the other way around. That renewables are expensive and unreliable. However, recent polls show that as it turns out, people aren’t that stupid.

A survey done by the Global Challenges Forum found that eight out of ten Australians – 81 per cent of the 1,000 Australian participants in the poll – agree with the proposition: “Do you think we should try to prevent climate catastrophes, which might not occur for several decades or centuries, even if it requires making considerable changes that impact on our current living standards?”

The figure across the 8,000 people polled in eight countries – Australia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa, UK, Germany and USA – was 88 per cent. Nine out of ten. In other words: We are ready to act, and we are ready to pay for that action.

Other polls confirm these stats. The climate Institute’s poll, ‘Climate of the Nation 2016’, found that 96 per cent of Australians want our primary source of energy to come from renewables. 81 per cent of Australians think individuals and households should play a role in dealing with climate change.

And 73 per cent of Australians want strong action taken on climate change and energy because it will create opportunities in clean energy, such as jobs and investment.
 
Findings from the 2017 Lowy Institute Poll show that the majority of Australians see global warming as a serious problem and a critical threat to Australia’s vital interests. Three-quarters of Australians say climate warming is ‘a catastrophic risk’, and a massive 87 per cent of respondents see climate change as a threat.


Proper laws to ensure our safety
Very few governments around the world have dared to put legislation in place which protects its people against climate change. But little by little, it is beginning to happen.

France is going to stop granting licences for oil and gas exploration as part of a transition towards environmentally-friendly energy being driven by Emmanuel Macron’s government. Recently Nicolas Hulot, the French “ecological transition” minister said a law would be passed in the autumn. “There will be no new exploration licences for hydrocarbons,” he said.

» The Independent – 24 June 2017:
France to ban all new oil and gas exploration in renewable energy drive



The Dutch are working on a ban on petrol cars already from 2025, Norway wants to do something similar and is about to ban cars entirely from their capital city Oslo, while the country’s environment minister recently told the Norwegians that “Those using fossil oil for heating must find other options by 2020.”

» The Independent – 2 July 2017:
Norway to ban the use of oil for heating buildings by 2020



On 15 June 2017, the Swedish Parliament took a decision on the most important climate reform in Sweden’s history: The country committed to becoming a net-zero carbon emitter by 2045 – by law and with 254 to 41 in favour of the proposal, which was developed by a committee involving seven out of eight parliamentary parties.

And New Zealand’s parliament is currently in the process of doing what is needed – based on cross-party recommendations from a united parliament.


Price on pollution
A simple way to make it all happening is to put fee on air pollution. We pay for polluting the ground, so why exactly is it that polluters of the air go free?

Today, about 40 national and over 20 sub-national jurisdictions responsible for almost one fourth of global greenhouse gas emissions are putting a price on carbon. Together, these initiatives cover the equivalent of almost 6 gigatons of carbon dioxide, or about 12 per cent of global emissions.

“It is a dirty lie that CO2 emissions from fossil fuels have so far come with no cost – they cost us human health, damage to our climate, and billions of dollars in subsidies worldwide. Putting a clear price-tag on CO2 emissions means finally telling the truth. Pricing CO2 is key to climate stabilisation.”
~ Ottmar Edenhofer, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research





To change behaviour beyond the margin, the carbon taxes will need to go to punitive levels – some people talk about that $220 per tonnes of CO2 would be a fair fee, considering the damage it causes – and currently no Australian politicians have the guts to even mention that topic, after they saw what happened to Julia Gillard’s carbon fee and how Tony Abbott was able to win an election on promising he would dismantle the arrangement.

Then again, we know it’s needed. If we are responsible, honest and concerned, we simply have to be able to talk openmindedly and constructively about this again, not just in parliament, but anywhere where decisions are being made.

What we need is an emergency shut down of the fossil fuel industry through the 2020s. No one is willing to talk about that, but that is the reality. A reality that can’t even be whispered in the corridors of the Australian parliaments, not even at the major environmental organisations.

So in the meanwhile, we the citizens are beginning to do their bit of composting, changing our lightbulbs, putting solar on the roof, riding bicycles to work, which is all good, but everyone knows it is by no way enough. What is needed is that all fossil fuels stay in the ground – starting… well, now.

Illogical and stupid as it may seem, the energy industry is very reluctant to make the necessary transition to renewables, simply because it means abandoning all of their fossil fuel infrastructure and investments. Europe’s largest oil company Shell is beginning to make some moves, microgrids, load balancing, storage, smart meters, and getting ready to re-enter the solar market in a big way. So is AGL. But without bold government regulation that encourages and supports the transformation and transition, let’s face it: it is not going to happen fast enough.

» Energy Post – 5 July 2017:
The surprising New Energy side of Shell



ReGen Villages

Honesty
In November it will be interesting to see which group of people is going to sit in our next Council to represent us.

I have no idea who will run for the positions, but I predict that at election meetings, inspired by the success of Trump’s campaign strategy, we will be hearing the candidates express this sentence in various variations again and again: “Listening to you, the residents, is the most important thing I want to do – if you elect me as your councillor, I will be your representative.”

It sounds so nice. We all like to hear that melody. But watch out when you hear it. Like Tony Abbott’s promise of a $550 reduction on your electricity bills, it is election-bluff. A mirage. Trump was a prime example of how in our time and age it is possible to get away with selling lies and illusions wrapped in candifloss.

In reality, no president or councillor is going to listen to each and everyone. What Trump is doing now is not “listening to the American people”. His decisions barely represent the choice of a quarter of the population, and he only listens to those he chooses to listen to. No more.

Honesty in politics is a scarce commodity. But then again, why? Who said it has to be that way?

In Geelong, for instance, who says we couldn’t have a Council made up of honest and ordinary citizens? – people with a spine who will stand for their principles and values. And who will speak for those who are not normally listened to, those who have no money, fame or influence.

We don’t need more of the sweet but hypocritical and deceptive sugar-coated advertisement-salesmen talk. Parking fees and Christmas decorations… yes, that’s all going to be dealt with in due time, but before that, we need to have a more honest talk about this city’s 30-year-vision and how the climate emergency will impact on it. Like they do in Darebin, could we talk more focused about what we can do to help fix this collective problem?

As the American and Republican mayor Rex Parris has shown it in Lancaster, Los Angeles, climate action is cost efficient, profitable and just plain makes good sense:


“At World War II, what occurred was that our way of life and everything about us was threatened. It was a very real threat. It could have all ended.
And so Republicans and Democrats, and Christians and Muslims, everybody came together, because we had this enemy that was going to crush us if we didn’t.
We came together and survived.
The threat that World War II presented to us is one tenth of the threat that we are facing today.
And what is crazy about is: even Republicans know it. We all know it.
It is the insanity that seems to be overwhelming us. It is hard to comprehend.
But then again, it is not at all, because it is so horrible what we are facing, it is hard to keep looking at it for very long at all. (…)

The synergy that develops when you start facing this common enemy and bringing people together is that everything gets better.
We had the highest crime rate in LA County. It is now one of the lowest. We had the highest number of gang murders. In two years we had zero. Because that’s what happens when the community comes together to have a common goal. And what is that goal? We want our children to live! Because that is really what is at stake.”

~ Rex Parris, mayor of Lancaster, Los Angeles, USA



Mayor Rex Parris is a visionary who has brought amazing sustainable change to a very conservative city of 160,000 people. Parris is not alone. Georgetown in Texas is a community of 50,000 people that has chosen to get all of its electricity from wind and solar energy because renewable power is cheaper than fossil fuel alternatives. Greensburg in Kansas rebuilt itself as a thriving 100 per cent wind-powered town after a tornado almost wiped the small town off the map.
 
This is the reality: in cities, towns and rural areas across the the world, citizens, companies and city councils are signing up for a clean energy future. They know, as we do, that 100 per cent clean energy is not only possible. It’s already happening.

And in the boardrooms of companies such as Coca-Cola, Apple, IKEA, Lego, WalMart, GM and many more the momentum for 100 per cent clean energy is people-powered and unstoppable.

» ThinkProgress – 27 June 2017:
Meet the mayors rejecting Trump’s dirty energy agenda and embracing a fully renewable future
“Climate change may be the challenge of our generation, but it is also the opportunity of a lifetime.”


Our highest priorities must be to figure out how we build a safer, healthier and happier Geelong. We will be changing the way services are delivered, the way our food is produced, the way houses are built, the way we transport ourselves. It could mean restructuring the way we think about our relationship with each other and the economy.

I say enough is enough with all the lying, cheating, cutting corners and thinking we’ll be happier the more and bigger we buy – or the cheaper it is.

Let’s restore some of the good old and solid human values such as honesty, trust, fairness, and equality. Care for quality – for things that last. Care for those who come after you. Good old-fashioned common sense is ready for a revival.

Australian voters have been conned to believe that being against change – and therefore also being against renewable energy and anything that threatens the revenue stream in the fossil fuel industry, including electric cars, active transport and restrictions on pollution – is being conservative. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being conservative means to be risk averse because we favour continuity, tradition and gradual change, rather than disruption, chaos and destruction. We are being fooled by politicians who claim to be “conservative” but at the same time are ready to expose us all to whatever climate emergency may come.

There is nothing conservative about underestimating risk. In most cases, ignoring risk is just plain dum. But when you are putting others at risk in order to protect your self interests and personal gain, then it is no longer just a question of stupidity, or being inconsiderate. When your risk-taking actually kills people, we would normally consider that being a punishable, criminal act.

In most people’s lives, our approach to riskis that we ensure ourselves. That is why we have ensurance companies. We consider what the worst case scenario could look like, and then we look at how we best can be protected against this from happening.

To be risk averse in 2017 means to be paying attention with what is happening to our planet at the moment – to see the warning signs, and take precautions accordingly, rather than just continuing ‘business as usual’ and hope that we won’t get to experience those ecological disasters that scientists are telling us we have triggered with our pollution and because our generation choose to live beyond this planet’s ecological limits and close its eyes for the consequences.

We need a different approach to risk management for potentially catastrophic risks such as the one we have created with our air pollution and because of how we have ignored the warnings from scientists since they started talking about the issues in the 1980s.


Solutions lined up
In 2016, Geelong Council endorsed the One Planet Living principles, and has been recognised as one of only three Australian councils that has done this. ‘One Planet Living’ means that we use the planet’s recourses in recognition that we have only one planet, and we can’t exploit and pollute it, as if we could just go somewhere else once we are done with this one. The time to fully reengage with how we can make a living and make a life within our ecological limits… is now. Not some time in the future. Right now.

There’s Circular Economy. The Blue Economy. The New Economy. Many names for thinking long-term sustainability into everything we do. Including how we do business.

We have to restructure the way we think about our relationship with each other and about our economy. The way we deliver services to each other, the way our food is produced, the way houses are built, the way we transport ourselves. We have to reengage with how we make a living and how we make a life – and the bonus is that that, in fact, is a better way to live.

When we scrap the carbon as fast as we possibly can, we will do in the hope that we also inspire others both nationally and internationally to do the same – and in this way it can help reduce the numbers of future climate refugees, “stop the boats”. But in our local community, we won’t have to wait that long to feel the immediate benefits we ripe from this work and these discussions, both socially and economically. Reengaging with how we make a living and make a good life as ‘Clever and Creative’ citizens will never be boring.


» You can read more about gains from creating change in my blogpost from 26 September 2016:
Benefits from understanding the connection between climate and mental health


Old values
Speaking of old-fashioned values… Here is a selection of values we could to reflect on and maybe remove the dust from. They are from the book ‘Rules for a Knight’ by Ethan Hawke which is shaped like a letter from a knight, who is writing to his children the night before he goes to battle in 1483:

Humility. Gratitude. Pride. Cooperation. Friendship. Forgiveness. Honesty. Courage. Justice. Generosity. Dedication. Equality. Love.

…just to name 13 from his list.

I mentioned Community spirit and the 1,000-year-old Viking value of Trust earlier – that we learn to have confidence in each other. I’ve talked about Parenthood Responsibility, Credibility and Integrity.

What if I told you that I actually see it as a positive value when a person has the courage to express doubts? Being able to see being doubtful as a strength in the sense that it is, among other things, about maintaining openness for more options, more answers and solutions. That you keep several doors open.

I think the Danish recipe for happiness is that we acknowledge that the good things in life are not measurable in either prizes or dollars. That it may be more about having the attitude that we keep learning all through life and constantly are “getting better at what I’m good at”.

Learning how to work together in a team or as a group – and work well together – is a never-ending learning process.

With the ‘Clever-Creative’ vision, we could further develop Danish Nikolaj Grundtvig’s 150-year-old transformational reflections on lifelong learning and collaborative thinking. The art of being able to turn cabbage and weed from the backyard into a highly acclaimed gourmet restaurant meal, as a Danish restaurant owner has successfully done it, is an example of what that clever-creative attitude can lead to – and, in Grundtvig’s spirit, not to be in the game for the sake of winning – to be in the game where the goal is to constantly improve and evolve, to expand the horizon and to challenge ourselves.

Maybe it’s about finding a golden middle way between the Danish ‘Janteloven’ (which says: “Don’t think too highly of yourself”) and the American Dream (which says: “Anyone can become a winner”) gently mixed with ingredients from Buddhas’ Middle Path philosophy and Grundtvig’s lifelong learning philosophy?

I say that because the ability to create solid and broad cross-party compromises seems to be totally absent from Australian politics, where it is actually a very common thing in the Scandinavian parliaments and city halls.

“Compromises are generally regarded as inferior. Something unclean. But I strongly believe that the best policy is made when weighing different considerations and finding a solution that takes consideration to more. A good compromise is something you can be proud of,” the former Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, once said.

Seeking consensus involves talking about things. It also involves having a commitment and a sense of belonging to a community, that you have your heart in what you do. And that you respect the rules of democracy.

It involves the ability to create an honest dialogue. Dialogue is actually a core word in the leadership style that characterises the Danes and the Scandinavians. It grows from an intention of meeting others with respect, openness and honesty. A recognition of our fundamental equality. Tolerance wherever possible. Equal treatment and justice are important pillars. As well as a common understanding that we have the freedom to express ourselves and universal human rights.

Transparency in decision-making, in organisational structure and in economics is another extremely important ingredient which much be part of that package just as well.

» You can read more about this topic in my blogpost from 29 August 2016:
What’s Geelong’s future? Here’s inspiration from Denmark





Next step
Progress does not start in the Parliaments in Canberra or Melbourne. It starts right here, in our local communities, with people getting together to support shared objectives.

What our city needs is not politicians who are happy to fill the role as puppets for either the business sector, the real estate industry, car or fossil fuels industry. To create the change the Clever-Creative vision and the climate emergency hold for us, we need representatives of those people who are not in charge the economic flows in the city, but who represent the viewpoint of plain common sense. When eight out of ten Australians say they realise we are in a climate emergency, we need leaders who recognise this.

Change must come from us, the ordinary people, who can see through the money game and the fossil fuel ‘occupation’ of our parliaments and media, and who understand that as the climate crisis gets more and more expensive and begins to kill more and more lives, those people who are blocking the transition towards a sustainable society based on a circular economy are in reality committing an intergenerational crime.

We can’t continue to be passive bystanders watching this crime being committed right in front of our eyes. We can’t magically get a Great Barrier Reef back once it has died. As Ruth Mundy points out, future generations will judge us, and by then it will be too late to do something about it.

What this means for you and I is that we need to get engaged. That means opening our mouths and asking questions. Coming out to election events and asking questions to the election candidates, getting active on social media. Getting friends and family to do so as well. Who is ready to commit to stepping up on the climate challenge? Who wants to see the Clever-and-Creative-City-Region vision carried out?

The time to mobilise is when our future councillors are still candidates, prior to the election. Then, when the date is up, on 28 October 2017, do your civic duty and go to vote for those who you have found to be speaking with honesty, integrity and their values in behold.

After that, do so in every election ahead – at all levels of government in this country.

We all need to do our bit in the transition to rebuild our energy system and our economy, creating real and climate-safe progress from the ground up.

Like my grandfather used to tell us in my family, democracy is worth fighting for and not to be taken for granted. I can assure you that on a dying planet, that is if we don’t get this issue with our air pollution right in the next few years, on a planet disrupted by food and water scarcity, don’t take for granted that your own children or grandchildren will be as privileged as to take part in democratic elections. When food and water gets scarce, conflict begins. The real threat to the next generations will not be perceived as “climate change”, but as human beings killing one another. We could see a new version of ‘tribal’ wars where those who have are protecting what they have from the desperate ones who have lost everything. There will be no human rights on a dying planet.

The fight I roll up my sleeves for, and which I invite you to join me in, is about protecting our planet by living within our ecological limits.

We can do it. The Second World War gave us an example of how much could happen – and how quickly – as soon as we pull ourselves together and begin to act as a collective force, and not as individuals who can’t see beyond our own nose tips.

There is an important moral to the story about my grandfather’s fight for Denmark’s freedom and democracy. It is that no matter how high his ambitions were and how pure his values were, he would eventually have failed and died, if he hadn’t been part of a much bigger movement. In 1944, he was arrested by the German occupation army and sent to a prison camp. He was close to dying of starvation when, in May 1945, the British and the Americans defeated Hitler.

We can’t go it alone – and with the climate change threat, this is both the problem and what’s so wonderful about responding truthfully to the problem: we need each other, and we are forced to find out how we can cooperate and coordinate our efforts and skills. Our cleverness and creativity.

In a time characterised by deception, manipulation, cheating, fast speed and under the shadow of an increasingly unsafe and uncertain future, there is immense value in understanding what’s worth fighting for – and to consequently join others in a collective quest to create real and sustainable solutions.

As I see it, it creates some sort of a bridge over the ravine of meaninglessness that modern society’s loss of religion and loss of values has created. It is a recipe for building relationships in the community. For getting both better connected and better rooted. From a scientific point of view, these are the kind of ingredients that researchers tell us true happiness is made of.

Welcome to the party. The We-can-do-it party.

This party of all political colours is where we are in the business of scrapping the carbon and stopping the boats. Where we care about those who come after us, and therefore know how essential it is to create and then implement a long-term vision for our city.

Regardless of your various colours of politics – no matter whether you are “green”, “red”, “blue” or some other colour or shade – at this point it has got to be ‘all hands on deck’. There really is one focus, one fight, which our community along with the rest of humanity in particular needs to get its head around, unite all efforts around, and that is to restore and secure a safe climate.

And trust me, a long list of unexpected rewards and benefits will be waiting around the corner, once we get started on that journey.


“The cure for despair is not hope. It’s discovering what we want to do about something we care about.”
~ Margaret Wheatley






Related stories and links



ReGen Villages

Village capable of producing its own energy, water and food

ReGen Villages, in partnership with Danish architecture firm Effekt, help addressing a number of the worlds pressing issues: the rising population, climate change and limited resources.

The world’s first off-grid village capable of producing its own energy, water and food – while creating zero carbon and zero waste – is erected in Almere, the Netherlands. A total of 100 pilot homes.

If the project proves to be successful, the ReGen hopes to launch a number of other pilot villages in countries like Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany, China, the UAE, and potentially the African continent.

» Articles on www.fastcompany.com and www.ecowatch.com

» Home page: www.regenvillages.com




The Global Covenant of Mayors

The Global Covenant of Mayors now has more than 7,450 cities on board with an estimated population of nearly 700 million.

Formerly the Compact of Mayors, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy is the largest coalition of mayors committed to accelerating climate action. One of its most emblematic leaders of this initiative was former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a film star who is also an environmentalist.

» Home page: www.globalcovenantofmayors.org

» European Union: EU calls on all cities to join global covenant of mayors

74 million views in just a week, and two million shares on Facebook. That means two million people who agree with The Terminator’s statement:

“It’s time to start a grass roots’ revolution to save our planet.”
~ Arnold Schwarzenegger, former govenor of California




2020: Don’t be late

Mission 2020 is a global campaign, blending radical collaboration and relentless optimism to put emissions on a downward path by 2020. When it comes to our climate, timing is everything, and we have a game-changing opportunity to make the big changes now.

“Let’s not be late for this turning point, so future generations can live in a climate safe world.”

» www.mission2020.global



“The ‘unrealistic’ has proven to be possible”

“Another world is possible. And those who take the opportunity now can win elections and maybe even change the world. Politics is the art of the possible, it is said. But too long, too many have accepted that politics is in fact the technique of the necessary.

Politicians have been divided into two categories: the responsible and the irresponsible, the realistic and the unrealistic candidates. And politics was made as either necessary or impossible. But in recent years the ‘unrealistic’ has proven to be possible, and we have discovered that those who were previously judged out on beforehand can no longer be discredited. The voters no longer believe in the ruling truths about what you can and what you can not.”
~ Rune Lykkeberg, Information, 17 June 2017


» The Age – 23 June 2017:
Silvertail subversives: the men aiming to change a system in which they prosper
“Meet four men who have prospered hugely under our current political system, yet want to dramatically overhaul it for the greater good.”



Building the New Economy: A conversation with national convenor Dr Michelle Maloney

Dr Michelle Maloney is the national convenor and co-founder of the Australian Earth Laws Alliance, and the developing New Economy Network Australia. Both are strongly connected with fast-growing global movements, and a burgeoning mix of initiatives on the ground.

» Listen to the podcast on soundcloud.com



“Sick of slogans from politicians”

“We’re fed up with the maggoty diet of lies and half-truths that politicians dish up to us daily. This is suggested by the 82 per cent of voters who told the Essential Report in May 2017 they were “sick of slogans from politicians” and wanted “real answers on how government can operate better”.”

“69 per cent of us told pollsters the Liberals “will do anything to win votes”, while 61 per cent made the same damning assessment of Labor.”
Paula Matthewson in The New Daily on 2 June 2017

» The New Daily – 2 June 2017:
No one is listening to politicians anymore – and no wonder


» Medium – 12 June 2017:
Our problem isn’t ‘fake news.’ Our problems are trust and manipulation



Spotlight on politicians and corruption

Recently, The Greens suggested in Canberra to establish a national anti-corruption commission as they have done it in New South Wales. This was the third, fourth (or more) time the Greens have put forward legislation for a federal ICAC. Each time the two major parties in Australia, the Liberals and Labor, have teamed up to kill it.

Adam Bandt argued: “We need a national anti-corruption commission that will investigate everyone from politicians to CEOs, judges to unionists, without fear or favour.”

But no. Labor and the Coalition voted against it.

Now, why would you do that unless if you have something to hide?

There is so much talk in the media about how corruption influences politics in Australia. How do you then justify voting no to establish a national anti-corruption watchdog? To me it seems indefensible!

Is it that being in government means you have to be corrupt and give taxpayers’ money to vested interests? Why, for instance, is the government giving money to polluters? Why would a party like Labor oppose action on corruption?

Also, it seems somewhat counter-intuitive that the ones who stand to be investigated and potentially brought to justice can decide whether or not a national anti-corruption commission is established.

Sam Crozier commented on Facebook: “Labor’s persistent opposition to action on corruption really says something. Adam Bandt & The Australian Greens have pushed for a Federal ICAC many times. Most Australians clearly want it. Labor & the Liberals clearly don’t. And when scrutinised, Labor try to distract with really old false claims & general misinformation. Being a former ALP branch official myself, another part of why I left them to support the Greens.

Aside from it being very clear the Greens, as represented by Adam, are the only party in the House of Reps not tainted by corruption, it’s noteworthy that Labor people can’t defend their opposition to a Federal ICAC, but would rather seek to distract readers by recycling decade-old fiction about their attempt to hand many billions of dollars to polluters, disguised as a supposed “Emissions Trade Scheme”.”

Paul Roberts wrote: “I just can’t understand why the ALP could possibly oppose a Federal ICAC. What is their reasoning behind this decision? It’s clearly needed as the various state ICACs can’t cover the federal jurisdiction properly. So why oppose it? Do they actually have a good reason they’re prepared to say publicly? Or is it just that they know how many of their MPs would have to front up?”



Four Corners [on ABC on 5 June 2017] was on how Chinese donations to Australian political parties could be corrupting our parliament and government. Surely then, any political donation, whether from overseas or from within Australia, could be corrupting. Is it any better that Australian corporations, the coal industry for example, might be paying politicians for favourable treatment than that the Chinese are doing it?”
~ David K Clarke



“How politics work”

I told my son, “You will marry the girl I choose.”
He said, “NO!”
I told him, “She is Bill Gates’ daughter.”
He said, “OK.”
I called Bill Gates and said, “I want your daughter to marry my son.”
Bill Gates said, “NO.”
I told Bill Gates, My son is the CEO of World Bank.”
Bill Gates said, “OK.”
I called the President of World Bank and asked him to make my son the CEO.
He said, “NO.”
I told him, “My son is Bill Gates’ son-in-law.”
He said, “OK.”
This is exactly how politics works.



Actions, not words, reveal our real values

I told my old coach that I really want to make Muckwork happen.
He said, “No, you don’t.”
I said, “Yes, I do! This is really important to me!”
He said, “No, it’s not. Saying it doesn’t make it true.”
I said, “You can’t ignore what I’m saying. I know myself well. I’m telling you what’s important to me.”
He said, “I can ignore what you’re saying, and just look at your actions. Our actions always reveal our real values.”

I thought about that, but it sounded wrong to me. What about people that want to learn a language, or create a business, but haven’t started yet? What about people that want to quit smoking, or quit their job, but haven’t been able to yet?

He said, “If they really wanted to do it, they would have done it. You’ve been talking about Muckwork since 2008, but never launched it. Looking at your actions, and knowing you, I’d say that you don’t really want to start another company. You actually prefer the simple life you have now, focused on learning, writing, and playing with your kid. You say you want to, but your actions reveal the truth.”

Wow. Yep. He was right.

I had been fooling myself for years, telling myself I wanted to do this, but my actions prove otherwise. Yes I want it a little bit, but I want something else more.

Now I’ve been sharing this thought with friends who talk about wanting something, but aren’t making it happen. Each time, they have the same reaction I did. (“Oh wow. That’s true.”)

No matter what kind of stuff you tell the world, or tell yourself, your actions reveal your real values. Your actions show you what you actually want.

I see two smart reactions to this:

1) Stop lying to yourself, and admit your real priorities.

2) Start doing what you say you want, and see if it’s really true.

Derek Sivers, 16 June 2017





20 rules for a knight

1. Solitude
Create time alone with yourself. When seeking the wisdom and clarity of your own mind, silence is a helpful tool. The voice of our spirit is gentle and cannot be heard when it has to compete with others. Just as it is impossible to see your reflection in troubled water, so too is it with the soul. In silence, we can sense eternity sleeping inside us.

2. Humility
Never announce that you are a knight, simply behave as one. You are better than no one, and no one is better than you.

3. Gratitude
The only intelligent response to the ongoing gift of life is gratitude. For all that has been, a knight says, “Thank you.” For all that is to come, a knight says, “Yes!”

4. Pride
Never pretend you are not a knight or attempt to diminish yourself because you deem it will make others more comfortable. We show others the most respect by offering the best of ourselves.

5. Cooperation
Each one of us is walking our own road. We are born at specific times, in specific places, and our challenges are unique. As knights, understanding and respecting our distinctiveness is vital to our ability to harness our collective strength. The use of force may be necessary to protect in an emergency, but only justice, fairness, and cooperation can truly succeed in leading men. We must live and work together as brothers or perish together as fools.

6. Friendship
The quality of your life will, to a large extent, be decided by with whom you elect to spend your time.

7. Forgiveness
Those who cannot easily forgive will not collect many friends. Look for the best in others.

8. Honesty
A dishonest tongue and a dishonest mind waste time, and therefore waste our lives. We are here to grow and the truth is the water, the light, and the soil from which we rise. The armor of falsehood is subtly wrought out of the darkness and hides us not only from others but from our own soul.

9. Courage
Anything that gives light must endure burning.

10. Grace
Grace is the ability to accept change. Be open and supple; the brittle break.

11. Patience
There is no such thing as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A hurried mind is an addled mind; it cannot see clearly or hear precisely; it sees what it wants to see, or hears what it is afraid to hear, and misses much. A knight makes time his ally. There is a moment for action, and with a clear mind that moment is obvious.

12. Justice
There is only one thing for which a knight has no patience: injustice. Every true knight fights for human dignity at all times.

13. Generosity
You were born owning nothing and with nothing you will pass out of this life. Be frugal and you can be generous.

14. Discipline
In the field of battle, as in all things, you will perform as you practice. With practice, you build the road to accomplish your goals. Excellence lives in attention to detail. Give your all, all the time. Don’t save anything for the walk home.The better a knight prepares, the less willing he will be to surrender.

15. Dedication
Ordinary effort, ordinary result. Take steps each day to better follow these rules. Luck is the residue of design. Be steadfast. The anvil outlasts the hammer.

16. Speech
Do not speak ill of others. A knight does not spread news that he does not know to be certain, or condemn things that he does not understand.

17. Faith
Sometimes to understand more, you need to know less.

18. Equality
Every knight holds human equality as an unwavering truth. A knight is never present when men or women are being degraded or compromised in any way, because if a knight were present, those committing the hurtful acts or words would be made to stop.

19. Love
Love is the end goal. It is the music of our lives. There is no obstacle that enough love cannot move.

20. Death
Life is a long series of farewells; only the circumstances should surprise us. A knight concerns himself with gratitude for the life he has been given. He does not fear death, for the work one knight begins, others may finish.

The rest of Rules For a Knight goes on to explore these ideas in greater detail. Despite its fiction status, the book is a timeless meditation on self-improvement and what it means to be a parent.

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Australian politics according to Alan Moir



» The Guardian – 3 June 2017:
It’s way past time to speak truth to climate arguments this stupid
“It’s clearer than ever the economic interests Trump claims to defend can only be served by acting on global warming.” By Lenore Taylor




 [CLIMATIC ROOT TREATMENT]  is a series of blogposts seeking to uncover and understand the deeper roots of society’s problems with taking appropriate action on the climate emergency, and to explore the advantages we could see once the action sets in.

“The [fossil fuel] industry thinks we are all fools, so all I can say is dig deep, find the facts, knowledge is power.”
~ Damian Marchant from Frack Free Moriac