Time to stand up and be counted


We are rapidly running out of time. Every choice we make now has profound consequences and every time I get slack I imagine the voices of the children around me asking, in disbelief, “how can you do that, how can you choose your comfort over our future?” It really is time to stand up and be counted.

In the New York Times this week Al Gore went further than he ever has before and said, “We are now treating the Earth’s atmosphere as an open sewer… I can’t understand why there aren’t rings of young people blocking bulldozers and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants.”

One of China’s most renowned artists Ai Weiwei, designer of Beijing’s spectacular “Bird’s nest” Olympic stadium, has also had the courage to stand up and be counted. Click here to watch a powerful interview with him on AlJazeera.


In an interview in The Guardian he says he wants nothing to do with the Olympic Games and the “disgusting” political conditions in China’s one-party state. He refuses to attend the opening ceremony or be associated in anyway, even if it means being “disconnected or forgotten”

“I hate the kind of feeling stirred up by promotion or propaganda … It’s the kind of sentiment when you don’t stick to the facts, but try to make up something, to mislead people away from a true discussion. It is not good for anyone.”

He accused those choreographing the opening ceremony on August 8 next year – including film-makers Steven Spielberg and Zhang Yimou – of failing to live up to their responsibility as artists.

“All the shitty directors in the world are involved. It’s disgusting,” said Ai. “I don’t like anyone who shamelessly abuses their profession, who makes no moral judgment. It is mindless.”

“I very openly criticise the tendency to use culture for the purpose of propaganda, to dismiss the true function of art and the intellect.”

“It is not opposition to the state, but rather in fighting for individualism and freedom of expression, freedom of human rights and justice … If you read newspapers today you see the problems created by this structure and by the effort to maintain power. It is against everything that human society should be fighting for.”

In Australia, Guy Pearse, former Country Young Liberal of the Year and Howard government speech writer has stood up to be counted. He’s thrown away his comfortable career as a lobbyist and any chance of a political career by writing “High and Dry – John Howard, climate change and the selling of Australia’s future”. In the introduction he asks of himself:

“How is it that a political spin doctor who has worked for the fossil fuel industry comes to scupper his own future and put planet before party?”

He then asks the question, “why has the Howard government acted so conspicuously against the world’s interests, and against Australia’s own future?” and goes on to expose the Greenhouse mafia behind the Howard Government. In a damning account he reveals that this government “has no plans whatsoever to reduce Australia’s emissions”. He exposes a prime minister who has allowed climate change policy to be dictated by a small group of Australia’s biggest polluters and the lobbyists they fund.

These are some of the latest daily stats Guy Pearse is adding to his blog:

70,000,000 cars

By 2050, the Howard government’s own internal projections are that its policy will increase emissions by 70% – the equivalent of adding over 70 million cars to our roads.

4 elections

John Howard’s $2 billion climate change budget is spread over 25 years. He would be 81 years old and need to win at least 4 more elections to preside over the last dollar being spent.

11 times

Even factoring in his latest funding announcements John Howard is spending 11 times as much on the war in Iraq as he is on climate change adaptation programs.


Even with a dozen nuclear power stations, Australia’s greenhouse emissions are projected by the Howard government to rise to 90 per cent above 1990 levels by 2050.


Of the funds allocated so far under the Howard government’s flagship greenhouse program (The Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund) 81 per cent has gone to subsidise fossil fuel companies


The Howard government says if Australia cut its emissions to zero growth in China’s emissions would wipe out the savings. But if China cut its emissions to zero tomorrow global emissions would increase 87 per cent by 2050.

800 more

The Howard Government claims its decision to ban the incandescent light bulb leads the world. But we would need over 800 announcements of the same magnitude to achieve a 60% cut in Australia’s emissions by 2050

1,000,000 cars

We could take a million cars off the roads tomorrow and the emissions saved would be wiped out by just one new aluminium smelter.

$2.4 trillion

The Howard government’s tourism minister’s answer to coral bleaching was to put shade cloth over the barrier reef. To cover the entire reef, this would cost roughly $2.4 trillion

$6 billion

The Howard government is spending $ 6 billion on 24 new fighter bombers the defence department has said Australia does not even need. This is almost 3 times John Howard’s climate change budget.

Albert Bates, author of “The Post Petroleum Survival Guide & Cookbook” spends his time touring and giving talks. Recently he’s said:

We could delay the inevitable by hard discipline taken in the next ten years, which I consider unlikely. We might even reverse the process, but it would take a level of organization of the caliber only possessed by those who have fully appreciated their likely fate if they fail to act, have banded together, and are prepared to take heroic, sacrificial action.

And, as always, Greenpeace continues to stand up and be counted with 600 people stripping off at a glacier in Switzerland



and others infiltrating Kleenex’s Let it out Campaign with their Kleercut banner to highlight the company’s less-than-nice use of foresting techniques. Click here to watch a great video of what they did.

Well, as usual, my actions seem pathetically small, but they continue to happen on a daily basis and are literally me unpicking a generation of brainwashing.

I grew up with a grandmother, and mother, who sewed, were frugal, who saved everything and who cooked all our meals. I then devolved into someone brainwashed enough to believe that it was pointless to spend too much time making things when it was actually cheaper to buy them. That if I could earn $40 an hour it was silly to spend an hour making something that I could buy for $20. Why did I grow to believe that price was the only way to judge value? Why did I grow to believe that there was no point fixing things because it was cheaper to replace them? Talk about being a sucker and being totally brainwashed … result – a new world of extraordinary consumption and waste and the planet warming at the speed of light.

Well, one of my white cotton Queen-sized sheets reached a tipping point recently … a small tear and, before I knew it, the whole sheet was ripping into giant holes. A year ago I would have thrown the sheet away. Remembering my Grandmother, however, and her sewing box full of little rolls of salvaged elastic, buttons, wrapped up pieces of fabric, safety pins she’d collected, even bra and stocking clips! … I spent a few hours in front of the tele with the boys and gradually unpicked the sheet to salvage the elastic that helped fit it to our bed – I know it will come in handy one day!


We then cut up the sheet and made dozens of hankies so that we can avoid using Keenex! The boys decorated some and I taught them how to use a sewing machine …. they were so thrilled. Considering I’m NOT a sewer, I was pretty impressed too. The boys are absolutely delighted because they’ve grown up with tissues and the hankies are a real treat. They kept rubbing the soft fabric against their faces!



One of the things about tissues is their convenience so I also found little plastic containers from around the house and I’ve made my own hanky boxes so that hankies are always at hand … particularly while this flu lingers on.


It’s also now been over 2 weeks since I stopped drinking (I really don’t know if I’ll be able to keep this up!) and to replace alcohol in my diet I’ve started making juices every day …. carrot and celery, pear and spinach etc etc etc. Nowhere near as nice, but hopefully I’m getting healthier, I’m not using bottles that get thrown out every single day, and I’m saving money.

Another part of my life I’ve needed to start unpicking are my aesthetic expectations for my house. Well, put it this way, I’m searching for a new aesthetic? When we moved into this house I loathed the old, dirty venetian blinds and just “knew” that I’d replace them with cedar blinds. Well, that was B.G.W. (before global warming).

On the weekend I took the venetians outside and scrubbed them until they gleamed. They are soooo much more attractive than cedar blinds now! (do I sound believable …. sigh, I really am trying). I keep reminding myself that it is all so urgent now that we have to “agitate, not renovate!” …. and when a young person looks me in the eye, I want to be able to look them straight back, knowing that I chose their future over my comfort!


Politically my actions have been a little less vigorous because of this dreadful flu. I met with someone from a Climate Group in Mackay who caught the train up to see me and told me about the Carbon farming he’s involved with. I wrote a letter to the Environment Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald and I’ve been blogging diligently every day … not always on this site but researching all the sites I can find on the web.

I’ve also cleaned up my front verandah so that I can start planting seeds in trays for my spring garden … not long now!

And if you still haven’t totally absorbed how serious our situation is, there are thousands of people blogging for our lives, like the author in a recent article in Common Dreams who generously made available a whole lot of excellent links:

A recent conference that did not get much publicity was the Environmental Change Institute event – Climate Change and the Fate of the Amazon – held at Oxford in March 2007.

The presentations can also be listened to as podcasts, perhaps while scrolling the related presentation.

The German Advisory Council on Global Change has published an interesting set of reports over the last few years. In particular, they’ve prepared a document titled Summary for Policy-Makers – World in Transition: Climate Change as a Security Risk – ‘The core message of WBGUs risk analysis is that without resolute counteraction, climate change will overstretch many societies adaptive capacities within the coming decades. This could result in destabilization and violence, jeopardizing …. international security. Climate change could also unite the international community, provided that it soon sets the course for the avoidance of dangerous anthropogenic climate change by adopting globally coordinated climate policy. If it fails, climate change will draw ever-deeper lines of conflict in international relations, triggering conflicts between and within countries over the distribution of resources over migration, or over compensation payments’.

A paper presented by Tim Lenton and colleagues from UEA has recently made headlines. Scientists warn on climate tipping points

A 2006 summary of the state of knowledge – The tipping point of the iceberg ‘There is near universal agreement that we are now seeing a greenhouse effect in the Arctic’. Mark Serreze. Could climate change run away with itself? A look at the balance of evidence.

The recent news on the state of the ice in the Arctic 2007 season – Scientists warn Arctic sea ice is melting at its fastest rate since records began. Dr Serreze said that even pessimistic predictions may have overestimated the resilience of the Arctic sea ice. He said that we may have already reached the tipping point when there is a rapid disintegration. “The big question is whether we are already there or whether the tipping point is still 10 or 20 years in the future. My guts are telling me we may well be there now”

News on a forecast from researchers at the Met Office’s Hadley Centre in Exeter revealing that natural shifts in climate will cancel out warming produced by greenhouse gas emissions and other human activity until 2009, but from then on, temperatures will rise steadily. The full article is Climate Change: Humans and Nature Duel Over the Next Decade’s

Climate A map presenting Potential Anthropogenic Tipping Elements in the Earth System.

An impressive presentation with excellent quality images & diagrams showing how glaciers worldwide are changing – A large file.

Hansen argues in Scientific Reticence and Sea Level Rise that professional and personal reticence amongst scientists leads to a downplaying of significant climate risks – ‘that a scientific reticence is inhibiting communication of a threat of potentially large sea level rise. Delay is dangerous because of system inertias that could create a situation with future sea level changes out of our control’.

Global Warming: Connecting the Dots from Causes to Solutions. Jim Hansen polemical presentation of Feb 2007 at the US National Press Club

Sudden Change of State – George Monbiot discusses the recent James Hansen papers – ‘Reading a scientific paper on the train this weekend, I found, to my amazement, that my hands were shaking. This has never happened to me before, but nor have I ever read anything like it. Published by a team led by James Hansen . It suggests that the grim reports issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change could be absurdly optimistic’….. .

The Hansen paper Climate change and trace gases published in May 2007

A further news story covering the Hansen paper – The Earth today stands in imminent peril … ‘and nothing short of a planetary rescue will save it from the environmental cataclysm of dangerous climate change. Those are not the words of eco-warriors, but the considered opinion of a group of eminent scientists writing in a peer-reviewed scientific journal’.

A glaciology paper Rapid and synchronous ice-dynamic changes in East Greenland

Editorial comment on the The West Antarctic Ice Sheet And Long Term Climate Policy

Hansen House of Rep. Testimony Dangerous Human-Made Interference with Climate

Hansen polemic – State of the Wild: Perspective of a Climatologist – Are we close to a series of tipping points? Human-made greenhouse gases are near a level such that important climate changes may proceed mostly under the climate systems own momentum. Impacts would include extermination of a large fraction of species on the planet, shifting of climatic zones due to an intensified hydrologic cycle with effects on freshwater availability and human health, and repeated worldwide coastal tragedies associated with storms and a continuously rising sea level’.

The IPCC and the Conservatism of Consensus – analysis of the state of climate science and whether the gravity of the crisis is being underplayed. Ian Angus writes – The IPCCs reports on the extent and dangers of climate change fall far short of identifying the worst case possibilities. They are useful resources, but poor guides to policy

Last autumn-winter season was Europe’s warmest for more than 700 years, researchers say. The last time Europeans saw similar temperatures to the autumn and winter of 2006-07, they were eating strawberries at Christmas in 1289.

Political Corruption of the IPCC report? David Wasdell alleges that the IPCC process has told us less than the whole truth

Positive Feedback and the Acceleration of Climate Change – Wasdell approach to planetary dynamics

Wasdell review of the Vostok ice data – and what it might imply for the analysis of the sensitivity of the Earth’s climate to CO2

Wasdell Climate Change documents

IPCC Working Group 1 lodges a refutation of the Wasdell claims

Global and regional drivers of accelerating CO2 emissions. The major NAS recent paper that demonstrates that current CO2 emissions reach the highest levels used in IPCC scenarios, and maybe set to increase…..

A short discussion of Lovelock’s views: Lovelock says that we humans have pushed Earth’s systems over the edge and past the point of no return. “It’s far too late, hopelessly too late.

We are wasting our time and energies on all the wrong things. We have to face up to the fact that we are about to enter a major war with our own planet.”

The Truth about Climate Change Denial. Since the late 1980s, this well-coordinated, well-funded campaign by contrarian scientists, free-market think tanks and industry has created a paralyzing fog of doubt around climate change. Through advertisements, op-eds, lobbying and media attention, and greenhouse doubters . A report about politicization of US climate science, based on the findings of a year-long investigation into interference at federal climate science agencies. It demonstrates how policies have … restricted the flow of scientific information emerging from publicly-funded research. This has negatively affected the media’s ability to report on scientific issues, public officials’ capacity to respond with appropriate policies, and full public understanding of environmental concerns.

Overgrown Kids, Unshackled Ids, and the Death of the Superego – Frightening as it may be, the Earths fate rests in the hands of children. With incredibly formidable military firepower at its disposal, the United States could catalyze Armageddon at any time. And while they may be adults chronologically, our sociopolitical structure is dominated by emotional infants.

A review of the Pentagon 2004 climate change report

Until avoidance fails: system collapse and cultural change: Jan Lundberg writes that – ‘as conditions worsen, eventually the rich too will be brought down by ecological collapse and social upheaval. Meanwhile, we all seem to be sleepwalking in a regimented line toward the cliff, despite various wake-up calls and reasonable suggestions for changing our ways as a culture. Until avoidance fails and the avalanche is falling, we wait as a crowd currently receiving our last generous doses of petroleum food and drugs. Then mass hysteria will ensue as people face the fact that there is no more job over at the corporate office tower, and no more oil-burning trucks delivering corporate food to the supermarkets chains. Keeping our heads and transitioning toward sustainable living will probably be a real fringe activity, then as now, until its suddenly the only way for everyone. See you there.’……….

The Engine of Eco Collapse – Jared Diamond Ignores His Own Lessons
A thorough and well-thought through analysis of recent ‘collapse of civilisation’ literature

A recent book looking at why and how economies might be close to collapse:
In The Upside of Down, political scientist Thomas Homer-Dixon argues that converging stresses could cause a catastrophic breakdown of national and global order a social earthquake that could hurt billions of people.

The Return of Limits by Ashley Dawson. How societies face clear limits to growth

Taking Action In The Face Of Collapse: ‘The intensity you are likely to hear in this piece is driven by the urgency which I and many of my peers are feeling at this moment. Quite frankly, it’s time to quit screwing around with talking about collapse and start acting. The Rubicon has been crossed, we’re not living in Kansas anymore, and we are living in the closest thing we’ve seen to pre-World War II Germany than anything since then. Suit up and stop theorizing and speculating. It’s showtime’.

Monbiot Heat book extract

Monbiot article: Stop doing the CBI’s bidding, and we could be fossil fuel free in 20 years – Prospects for renewables are promising. But not if public interest is drowned by corporate power

4 thoughts on “Time to stand up and be counted

  1. ian stathis

    Hey Lis…
    A lot of sobering information. As someone who struggles daily with the many seeming insanities of his world, I found the article by Carolyn Baker (Under ‘Taking Action in the Face of Collapse) brought up many ‘dark’ emotions. However, ultimately this following paragraph expressed that which is truly important as humanity struggles with all of it’s, sometimes, seemingly overwhelming challenges:

    ‘One of my favorite mantras is a quote from Derrick Jensen: “We’re fucked, and life is really, really good.” Amid the dismal we need fun, joy, play, lightness of heart, art, music, poetry, songs, stories, and creativity of infinite varieties. Yes, I know, it’s a tremendous challenge holding such opposite emotions in the same body, but that is our work in the face of the end of the world as we have known it. Recall the words of Morpheus in “The Matrix”: “I didn’t say it would be easy, I just said it would be the truth.”

    Ta’ for all yer good work

  2. Lis

    I must say everyone with the name Ian seems to be very nice!(including my husband) I shall reserve a place for you in the bunker!
    …. I suspect we’ll have lots of concerts there … bring along all your favourite songs and jokes!

  3. Lis

    If you’d like to read more by Carolyn Baker and James Kunstler I’ve added Atlantic Free Press to our blogroll

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