The convenient truth: Where we went wrong as a species

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There are many reasons we've failed our planet, mostly due to ignorance and complacency (Image via Pixabay)

Humans have disrespected our relationship with planet Earth, an older and wiser entity than us, resulting in our climate disaster, writes Rocky Dabscheck.

AL GORE will be remembered as a champion of science-based belief in the reality of climate change, largely through his work An Inconvenient Truth’. If he had displayed the same passion to expose the truth of the Florida vote in the Presidential Election of 2000, he would be remembered as the 43rd President of America. Gore’s legacy will forever be the disaster of George W. Bush’s era; a complete catastrophe for climate change. Thank you, Al.

I happily profess I believe the scientists’ conclusions that our CO2 emissions are fuelling climate change. It is real, it is here and I trust scientists know what they are on about. I don’t see scientists, citing facts they have unearthed, standing to gain anything by pulling the wool over our eyes. I am aware they vie to win grants, either from the public or private purse, in the hope of regular employment, but if they are caught fudging the data to meet their agenda, it is a swift ‘Goodnight Vienna’ for them.

I am sure Tony Abbott is trusting of science-based evidence as he is being wheeled off to an operating theatre, or boarding a plane to France to attend the Tour de France, or, if he can’t be there, turning on a television to watch them as they cycle through the French countryside. Popping something in the microwave to heat up for a midnight snack as he watches them cycle up The Pyrenees, I doubt will call his faith in scientific-based fact into question.

So, why the debate over climate change?

Simple. It is “The Convenient Truth”. It is based on our human interaction with the natural world. The natural world goes back several billion years longer than we do. Plenty of wriggle room for us to deny any mea culpa. How far back do our precise, reliable records of human activity on the planet go? Not billions of years.

People who expect the planet to come up with something new after billions of years of doing what it does have rocks in their heads.

Climate change hasn’t invented fire, flood, drought, typhoons or hurricanes. All are gifts the natural world bestows us from time to time. And there’s the rub. The science suggests we are increasing the frequency of these dramatic natural episodes way above what our limited historical knowledge would have us believe should be the case. It can do no more than that.

Climate change is the convenient smoke-and-mirrors of where our global attention currently resides. We’ve all heard a disgraced public figure say they would like to apologise if their actions have offended anyone. They rarely then go on and actually apologise. I would like to compose a world-famous song but, as yet, I haven’t. Get my point?

We can say we believe in climate change, but it is hard to define what we are actually saying. It is not our fault. We live for 100 years if we are lucky. Doesn’t really compare to 6 billion years.

Some say we are being extremely human-centric in thinking we can actually impact at a major level something as powerful and grand as the Earth and our universe. Whether we do or don’t, I see no harm in living a life less cluttered with pollutants, CO2 emissions, plastics and oil spills. Cleaner air and less pollution can only do us good, but don’t expect our lifestyle to create anything new in the natural world.

Our interaction with the Earth’s atmosphere will always allow for enough mystery for us to save face. Interaction within our own species of homo sapiens offers no such luxury. Here, we possess the potential of complete ownership of consequence of action. And we don’t like it.

The great moral challenge of our generation is to confront the root causes of our woes, not just climate change. Oxygen is sucked away from issues driving climate change by our fixation on CO2 emissions. Overpopulation is the paramount cause of everything we must confront and combat. The more people there are, the greater demand for everything. Talk about too many CO2 emissions, how about too many people? The Chinese tried, but their template was severely flawed and must not be slavishly repeated if we ever seriously attempt to combat our galloping population expansion.

It is imperative CO2 emissions come tumbling down, but to ensure humans hang around on Earth for millennia to come, this is far from being the end of the penny section.

Several factors are feeding our ever-burgeoning population growth: inequitable distribution of wealth; poverty (large numbers of children provide a form of insurance for parents in their later years); the hold religion has on the human psyche; and the subjugation of women’s rights.

America’s 39th president, Jimmy Carter, after 90-plus years of worship, turned his back on the Church due to its depiction and subjugation of women and their rights. His nose hasn’t fallen off since.

“Every sperm is sacred,” sang the Monty Python ensemble. I say hallelujah, they aren’t sacred. I believe the greatest moral challenge of our generation is to destroy the religious rant that contraception and termination, if desired by the bearer of the foetus, is evil.

Amanda Vanstone stated in our Parliament, during the debate over the use of the RU-486 abortion pill, that if there can be a “just” war, surely there can be a “just” abortion.

Contraception is the greatest weapon we have to combat climate change.

When Neil Armstrong defied the laws of grammar as he stepped onto the moon in ’69, his old primary school teacher contacted him upon his return and said, “Neil. Where was the ‘a’? Three billion people heard your stuff up. One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” I would have been more impressed if Armstrong’s first words had been, “Geez, I could go a Passiona right now”.

Six billion years, 3 billion people. If Armstrong went up there now and sang a duet of Fly Me to the Moon with Michael Bublé, they would have a potential audience on Earth of 7.5 billion. Four-and-a-half billion more mouths to feed in only half a century. Population skyrockets, demand for everything skyrockets, but natural resources take their own good time to replenish.

Why do our religious tribes encourage such large nuclear families? Many could field an AFL team, filled exclusively with siblings from the one family. The reason is easy to find. To build their numbers up in case there is a conflict between religious tribes.

This, no doubt, made sense hundreds and thousands of years ago, but does not hold water today. Sophisticated weapons of mass destruction can do exactly that — mass destruct. (I believe George W. Bush finally found some WMDs hidden in the greenside bunker of the 16th hole of his local golf course.) Building up large numbers no longer holds any water and, if anything, will make your town’s wells run dry quicker than otherwise.

Coupled with this, medical and other advancements significantly add to our longevity. Infant mortality rates have substantially declined. We live longer and that is not without consequence. More of everything.

Mention of George W. highlights the enormous, deleterious impact political corruption adds to our existential dilemmas. If anyone thinks our current Australian Government is squeaky clean, a model of virtue and integrity, devoid of corruption, their passport should read Noddy Land.

Political corruption is on the up and up; inequitable distribution of wealth is harking back to the days of masters and serfs. Poverty, if a species, cannot be described as being on the endangered list. Large numbers are being lifted out of poverty on a purely economic measure; many others descend into a life of poverty as the rich get richer, but not the rest of us. Obviously, weak wage growth and the diminishing power of unions is purely coincidental. Where is “trickle-down” when you need it? As for all the non-economic measures of quality of life — better left unmeasured.

In Australia, with bushfires dancing to their own drum along our east coast and elsewhere, whispers are getting louder, attesting to the efficacy of learning from the wisdom of our First Nation people. Mainstream Australia should have learnt that lesson from the folly of Burke and Wills upon their demise in 1861, perishing whilst the local mobs flourished around them.

Australia’s First Nation people kept their numbers to levels sustainable by the food and water supplies of their land. They never fished a waterhole dry. They knew the seasons of their country and lived accordingly. They learnt over time how to protect the natural environment from nature’s ravages. As stated earlier, crucial to this, they ensured their mob did not have more mouths to feed than their country could sustain. They knew never-ending growth was neither wise, healthy, or ultimately obtainable.

Just as it is well before time we in Australia finally listen to our Indigenous uncles and aunties, nations all around this planet should also lend their ear.

As inconvenient as that may be.

Rocky Dabscheck is a musician/songwriter and front person for Rocky and The Two Bob Millionaires. He is also the author of 'Stoney Broke and the Hi-Spenders'.

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