The Peter Ellyard Show

In case you missed the announcement, I recently launched a new TPN podcast: The Peter Ellyard Show. Peter has been a good friend and regular guest on this show for several years. We worked together on his latest book, Designing 2050: Pathways To Sustainable Prosperity On Spaceship Earth. Peter has a massive amount of experience in environmental issues and as a futurist, so I decided he needed his own show. We’ve already got two episodes out, the most recent being an interview with WeForest’s Bill Liao, while he was at COP15. I hope you’ll check out the show.

Know Which Fight You’re In

We just got back from the first Brisbane meetup around #nocleanfeed. It was a pretty huge turnout, I’d guess 100 people. Well done to @nicholasperkins and everyone else involved in pulling it together.

I gave a short talk, mostly trying to convey the idea that this isn’t a campaign that we will win by trying to be RIGHT. This isn’t about FACTS. This is a propaganda war about ideology, the ideology of the Christian Right, a group that Conroy, Rudd, Abbott and Fielding are all card-carrying members of. And you can’t fight a propaganda war by trying to be RIGHT. The only way to fight a propaganda war is to counter it with your own propaganda and by knowing how propaganda campaigns actually work. There’s no use taking a knife to a gun fight.

As a long-time student of people like Chomsky and Pilger, I have some understanding about how modern propaganda works. I quote tonight from 20th century French philosopher and Christian theologian (not often you’ll catch me using a Christian theologian to make a positive point) Jacques Ellul who explained that modern propaganda isn’t telling lies, it’s about telling half truths, limited truths and truths out of context. That’s what Conroy et al are master of. They don’t lie when they talk about the feed, they just limit their use of the truth.

So we need to fight a propaganda war. Fortunately, we are all very-savvy little new media / social media types, so this shouldn’t be too hard to do, as long as know what kind of fight we’re getting into.

The one idea that I didn’t have time to get across tonight was that I don’t think we can win this if we just focus on the mandatory filter. It’s too thorny an issue and too easy for Conroy to deflect criticism . I believe we need to make this a battle against the ALP. I believe we need to focus on weakening their credibility in the upcoming election by getting in their faces on a range of issue where they have either under-performed, such as the environment, indigenous welfare, immigration, etc, or where they have just flat-out turned out to be as bad or worse than Howard (the internet filter, bailing out the banks, failing to rein in corporate executive salaries, etc).

We need a campaign that attacks the ALP’s credibility and performance across the board. We need put pressure on then across multiple fronts, not just on the filter. It’s pretty clear that the mainstream media will give them an easy ride in the upcoming election. So it’ll be up to social media to put the heat on them.

No Illusions Podcast 03 – Rangan Srikhanta, OLPC Australia

Rangan Srikhanta is the Executive Director, One Laptop per Child Australia. On this show he chats with me about their efforts to get laptops into the hands of kids living in remote regions of Australia. The idea to speak with OLPC came out of a recent Geeks Who Care meeting we had in Brisbane. OLPC have a terrific program running called the “Window of Opportunity Initiative” which enables all of us to contribute to getting these wonderful devices out where they are needed.

Ethics vs Economics

I was reading more of Clive Splash’s writing over the last few days and it struck me why I’m always getting into arguments with people about how we’re handling climate change. The problem, I think, stems from the fact that, to me, our approach to tackling climate change is about ETHICS. And the people I get into arguments with, aren’t talking about ETHICS – they are talking about ECONOMICS. And while ECONOMICS is a subset of ETHICS, the reverse is not true.

Ethics examines morality, good and bad, right and wrong, justice, etc. And economics has to be part of ethics. We need to consider how ethical the system of economics in our country is – does everyone have equal opportunity, enough money to afford a reasonable standard of living, access to health care, education, etc.

Economics, on the other hand, doesn’t care anything about ethics. Economics just thinks about the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. How ethical a particular system of economics is, is not the concern of the study of economics.

Unfortunately, I can’t find an ethics portfolio in the Federal government. There is a Treasurer, who worries about the economy, but nowhere to be found is a Minister for Ethics. I think we should have one. The Ministry of Ethics would take the lead on issues such as our treatment of our indigenous population, the handling of boat people, whether or not we should have equal rights for LGBT, and how we handle climate change.

And I think, in future, when I’m having debates with people over climate change, I’ll make sure I clarify at the outset whether or not we’re having a discussion about ethics or economics.

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A few words from Clive Splash

It was announced today that Dr Clive Splash has resigned from the CSIRO because the organisation was censoring his attempts to criticize Cap and Trade schemes. As I’m meeting Dr Peter Ellyard tonight to discuss the current ETS situation, I reviewed some of the materials on Dr Splash’s site. Here’s a short excerpt of a piece he wrote for Adbusters in 2008 (the bold parts are mine):

Well, we’ve been here before. Major international political attention was first paid to climate change in 1988. At a meeting in Toronto, governments agreed to 20 percent cuts in CO2 emissions by 2005. The same year, the Hamburg World Congress recommended 30 percent cuts by 2000 and 50 percent by 2015 (with some dissenters). However, instead of government action, we only saw the IPCC established to “study” the issue further. A decade later, Kyoto’s few percent emissions cuts for developed economies were still seeking ratification. Businesses in the US spent $100 million fighting the Kyoto Protocol, claiming it would hurt the economy. The highest per capita polluters, the US and Australia, withdrew and remained outsiders in the international consensus of concern. Underlying this government backtracking, delay and timid target-setting is economic power politics.

And here we are, 21 years later, with the Rudd government still pussy-footing around, trying to appease the fossil fuel industry, and the new “leadership” (and I use that word with derision) of the Liberal Party sticking to their 1988 rhetoric.

I’m sick of it. We need a people’s revolution.

Australia Needs To Lead The World

I’m reading the Australian government’s CPRS white paper tonight and there are some issues that I don’t understand.

In the Foreword, the paper says:

“… we have more to lose than any other developed nation if the world fails to reduce the carbon pollution that causes climate change.”

Wow, we better take it seriously then.

A couple of pages down, it goes on to say:

“By 2020, we have committed to reduce Australia’s carbon pollution by up to 15 per cent below 2000 levels in the context of a global agreement where major economies agree to substantially restrain carbon pollution and advanced economies take on reductions comparable to Australia.”

“Where major economies agree?” And what if they DON’T agree? We will do nothing? I thought this was serious?!

In debates on Twitter, people have tried to explain to me that it’s about balancing our long-term priorities (eg staying alive) with our short-term priorities (eg keeping people in jobs that are threatening our ability to stay alive).

I don’t see why we should be protecting the jobs of people when those jobs are threatening our ability to LIVE. That’s like protecting the jobs of the terrorists because, well, they have families too.

Mining in Australia employs about 129,000 people. That’s about 1.3% of the work force.  If we shut down mining and pensioned them all off with $100k a year, that’s about $10 billion a year, which, coincidentally, is about the same about of money the government has set aside for financial assistance to businesses and households anyway. So it’s not inconceivable to just shut it all down today.

Anyway, that’s not my point. My point is that you can’t justify continuing to do something that’s just WRONG by saying “yes but it makes money”. For example, slavery is profitable. But we don’t do that anymore (officially, anyway). We also don’t invade poor countries and kill all of their indigenous population and steal their assets (officially, anyway). Why not? Because it’s WRONG. And it’s NOT justified by saying “but we need to stay competitive”. It’s not dissimilar to countries developing nuclear weapons with the rationale that “they have them so we have to have them too”. I call BULLSHIT on that argument.

I would much rather see the leaders of our country stand up for doing what is RIGHT regardless of whether nor not other countries are willing to take that step. We should be LEADERS, not bureaucrats.

As for the mining companies – I don’t feel the need to protect their asses, either. They’ve had plenty of warning that what they were doing was unsustainable. And how much of their BILLIONS of profits did they spend on coming up with alternatives over the last 20 years? Pretty much ZERO. Did their investors force them at their AGMs to change their practices? No, they didn’t. So screw the mining companies AND their investors. Why should we protect the interests of companies that have been deliberately destroying the planet in the name of profit for decades?

Hell, even Bob Hawke understands.