On a 20 something hour flight from Heathrow, via Malaysia to Brisbane, with my wife, I can’t help but wonder, between hushing my daughter, ordering my obligatory Bloody Mary, and finishing one of the seven books I ‘had’ to bring on holiday with me just how much carbon has been ‘released’, how much energy has been used, and generally how much damage I’m doing by deciding to visit my side of our new little family. I can see why a lot of people simply feign ignorance, it’s certainly easier; That way you don’t have to feel slightly uneasy knowing your contributing a sizable wad to not only climate change but to the oil companies perpetuating it. So my wife and I run through the many ways in which we can help out to alleviate our sense of guilt because of our disgusting use of dinosaur bones. There’s the usual which we have done and will continue to do whenever and wherever we can, which is plant some trees, ride our bikes more, car pool, take public transport as often as possible, ensure all lights and electricity is off at the switch before leaving the house, use a green energy supplier… You know the drill. Then we arrive in Australia.
Now, I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been reading a little about urban planning, spliced with deleterious international developmental paradigms perpetuated by the Unholy Trinity (World Bank, IMF, WTO), and history books in general, but the way Australia is set out – I’m going to try and avoid speaking sociologically here – is a huge burden on global resources. It seems as if everyone drives, everywhere, particularly in the little coastal towns that we frequent when here, and where I grew up. I understand that due to the invention of the motor car and many technological feats of the last two hundred years, the time of European settlement, and the very geographical nature of the country that we can and do have our towns very spread out. I’ll also acknowledge the fact that I’ve been living in Europe for the last three years, and that this has altered my sense of space and living areas, but it really does seem ridiculous.
All this is well before I’ve even factored in the current policies Australia’s been and is being subjected to under the Abbott government. As we drove from Brisbane airport south to Byron Bay there was massive road work undertakings, entire hills being removed for a road. I couldn’t help but feel a slight annoyance knowing that not too long ago the only rail link from Brisbane to where I grew up was removed, from memory, due to lack of use, and again to my memory, the lack of use was due to the level of expense, which (thanks in large part to some basic reading), was only that expensive because of lack of government funding (amongst some lucrative deals on the part of big oil et. al.). This simple insight was one of the first things to strike me. I was then reminded of the statistic of Australians being the largest carbon emitters per capita than anywhere in the world, and thought, ‘well, surely, this is a massive contributor.’ And this is just the transport system! Don’t get me started on the outdoor/indoor super shopping malls that are blasting their airconditioning all day and night to avoid the natural climate of the place in which they live. Don’t get me wrong, this annoys me as much in England with their blasting of heaters as much as this does here, but we’ve got to start somewhere.
There’s plenty more where this rant came from, but I’m sitting here typing in a little flat with front and back door open for cross ventilation, a cooler wrapped around my beer, or a stubby cooler as we call them, whilst I hear car after car drive through my small home town (the vast majority, only carrying one), a man down the road trims the grass with his fossil fuelled hedge trimmer, with sweat dripping down my legs, in the mid thirty degree heat hearing from passers by and what passes as the ‘news’ in this country that climate change and or global warming isn’t happening. Maybe I should just join the party? Fuck it. Burn it all. Play the fiddle ay?