I’ve been meaning to do a new open thread for a while (last Salon was 12 January). When I saw news of the first entry below I thought it was too good to pass up!
1. Morrison’s ultimate gift to the world
His agent described him as “virtuous globalisation mastermind”
Our discarded PM has been picked up by the Worldwide Speakers Group:
- Australia’s 30th Prime Minister, Scott Morrison is the true definition of a leader with a 360º worldview. During his tenure, Morrison was tasked with several difficulties that required unique and innovative solutions. From managing the public safety of Australians during the pandemic to mitigating an economic crisis, controlling natural disasters, and leading the country while others were at war—Prime Minister Morrison led Australia with his particular brand of calm decisiveness and rationale. A globalization mastermind, Morrison lends his boundless influence and experience to audiences around the world.
Controlling natural disasters!!!
From The Guardian, Canberra’s Prof Chris Wallace said the gig:
- “raises former prime minister Scott Morrison from the national to world-class gaslighter league”.
The article picks up this which, time-shifted, could be a possible reaction:
Seems Morrison has five speeches ready to go:
- Mr Morrison can be booked for speeches on topics including “The Future of Globalism”, “Covid-19: Lessons from The Great Disruption”, “Navigating the Indo-Pacific”, “The Net Zero Global Emissions Economy” and “Faith, Religion and Technology in Liberal Democracies”.
2. Speaking of speeches
When Gillard took over I recall an expert in rhetoric saying that Gillard unscripted was better than when scripted.
It went viral worldwide, and will be remembered as long as humans have organised society and a collective memory.
Ms Gillard said the unplanned speech was fuelled by a cool anger.
“I felt analytical. I knew precisely what I wanted to say,” she said.
“And I felt empowered, not embattled, not cowed.
“And that is the spirit of the misogyny speech.”
Ms Gillard believes that almost exactly a decade after the speech, sexist and misogynist behaviour is not tolerated as much as it was during her prime ministership.
Now, she says:
- “Things have changed, it’s impossible to imagine a prominent woman in Australian politics would be called the things I was without it having huge negative consequences today,” she said.
3. Urban trees are threatened by climate change
That’s according to the New Scientist (pay-walled):
- Cities around the world may need to start planting different types of trees and shrubs that can tolerate warmer and drier conditions. By 2050, about three-quarters of the species currently grown in urban environments will be at risk as a result of climate change, a study has found.
“By ‘at risk’, we mean these species might be experiencing stressful climatic conditions,” says Manuel Esperon-Rodriguez at Western Sydney University in Australia. “Those trees are likely to die.”
To assess the threat, Esperon-Rodriguez and his colleagues used a database called the Global Urban Tree Inventory to work out the conditions required by 3100 tree and shrub species currently grown in 164 cities worldwide. The researchers then looked at how these conditions would be affected by climate change under a medium-emissions scenario called RCP6.0.
By 2050, 76 per cent of these species will be at risk from rising average temperatures and 70 per cent from decreasing rainfall, the team concludes.
So urban planners need to select species that will survive in the Anthropocene.
4. A budget to start a conversation
Michael Keating asks What do we need from next week’s Budget? An increase in tax revenue. Note what we need not what we’ll get. Basically Jim Chalmers, treasurer of our fair land, has told us we will not get what we need, rather a ‘responsible’ budget, whatever that might be. We are told that the expected revenue will:
- “go nowhere near to properly paying for the five fastest growing areas in the budget: healthcare, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, aged care, defence, and the rising cost of interest we pay to service the $1 trillion of debt.”
Relative to GDP, total government spending in Australia is:
- 4 percentage points below UK and Canada
More than 2 percentage points below even the US and NZ which are low compared to most other countries
- More than 10 percentage points below the typical European country in the Euro area.
During the election Dr Chalmers’ leader said on several occasions that under a Labor government no-one would be left behind. However, circumstances have changed in ways that were certainly unforeseen by most. It is quite clear that with inflation outdoing average wages, and a property market which is bleeding many dry in an effort to keep a roof over their heads, the less well-off will certainly bear the brunt of rectifying the ship.
For some time now, as Thomas Piketty has demonstrated, income inequality has been trending upwards:
Climate change, or rather global heating, is already disrupting our ecology and life on the planet quite violently. Prof Kevin Anderson in a longish talk Timely responses to the climate emergency: what role for aviation? sees the rich and inequality as fundamental to our situation:
Chalmers understands that we need to start from where we are building support within society and our polity. So he is seeking to craft a “solid, simple, sensible budget, suited to the times” (CM), honouring promises to engender trust so that we can have a sensible conversation about how we want to proceed in the Anthropocene.
Meanwhile Gaia has her own timetable.
Update 26 October 2022: Of all the commentators Stan Grant nailed the problem underlying the budget in Stan Grant – The dirty secret at the heart of the federal budget — the poor will pay, and the government needs them to.
Except it’s not a secret. My wife and I came in on the end of Chalmers’ National Press Club session today. He is acutely aware of what is happening. This from the press club speech:
Chalmers said Labor felt for those doing it tough, but had to be careful not to add extra inflationary pressure with any cost-of-living relief in Tuesday’s federal budget.
Dr Chalmers said balancing support measures with the extraordinary level of inflation was a tough act.
“That temptation becomes a lot stronger when you see people hurting … as a Labor government, as Labor people, we feel that, we care about that, it keeps us awake,” he said.
“Whether it’s food, whether it’s electricity, whether it’s rent, inflation is public enemy number one, inflation is the dragon we need to slay.”
And it’s not the government that needs them to. We all have a part in this story.
I think the best commentary so far has been Tim Colebatch with Chalmers’s long game.
It’s good to have the adults back in charge and he got the big call right: fight inflation first. However, he could have done more/better. This budget is a good start but there is much more to do.
5. A possible tipping point
Much has been said about climate tipping points recently, and some notable scientists have warned about the Climate Endgame where we have to ask what the authorities mean when they assert that the 1.5°C limit is necessary to avoid the ‘worst’ of climate impacts. What exactly is the worst? Extinction? The end of civilisation as we know it?
If 1.5°C is worse than what we have now, how can we honestly offer hope?
Questions for another time, but the worst news of the week for me had nothing to do with what is happening in Hungary, or homeless people in our midst. We know that:
- 1. The Greenland and the West Antarctic ice sheets are in play.
2. During the Eemian interglacial when the temperatures were similar to now there was sea level rise (SLR) of 6-9 metres, with only 300ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Our latest take on tipping points is that they begin to cut in at an increase of 0.8°C:
That graph is from World on brink of five ‘disastrous’ climate tipping points, study finds.
In order to offer hope of a safe climate we need to bring the climate thermostat down to the settings of the Holocene for a temperature of less than 0.8°C.
During the week I received from a Google feed to an article Antarctica’s Collapse Could Begin Even Sooner Than Anticipated:
Two expeditions to the Thwaites Ice Shelf have revealed that it could splinter apart in less than a decade, hastening sea-level rise worldwide
Scientific American won’t let me back in without paying, but if my aged memory serves it tells of the international research team inserting a robot under the tongue of the giant Thwaites Glacier. They found huge uneveness, hollows opening up to create swirls and eddies of warmer water in contact with the ice. There was danger of huge cracks developing from underneath.
A rocky mount thought to be holding back the flow is now thought likely to break up the giant stream of ice as it cracks around the impediment.
If Thwaites goes, it could go suddenly, but its repair would likely take centuries.
We should have listened to James Hansen when in 2007 with CO2 the 386ppm he told us that we had already gone too far and we needed to turn the thermostat down in the direction of 350ppm.
Meanwhile I’d appreciate it if anyone can find further information about this research. I think we are dealing with a Scientific American reporter’s story on the trip rather than ‘science’.