Australia: The Unlucky Country?

While waiting in the Apple Store Chermside today (waiting, that is, for them to replace the hard drive on my 5 month old 17″ Macbook Pro for the second time in a week), I started reading the Zero Carbon Australia 2020 report. The report was recently released by Beyond Zero Emissions, a non-profit group based in Melbourne. Their report details how Australia can become a zero carbon-emitting country by 2020. In their introduction, they remind us that Australia has the highest carbon emission per capita ranking in the entire world.

I had forgotten that fact, so I tweeted:

Let’s remember during this election that Australia has the highest emissions per capita IN THE WORLD. We are a disgrace.

A few hours later I saw this tweet in response:

I wish to express my utter disdain for what @Vzzzbx just retweeted from some twat called @cameronreilly (see next tweet)

I don’t know who this Ches Trulson guy is, but it always amuses me when someone just slags me off and doesn’t try to debate the facts. It’s usually the sign of a limited intelligence. But I popped over to read more of his Twitter feed, just in case he was someone to take seriously.

Here’s a sample of his Twitter feed, following on from the ‘disdain’ post:

We live in a first world country, this means our emissions are worse than much of the world. Bad? Sure.

France is also a first world country, but their emissions are one-third of Australia’s. And France’s emissions per capita have reduced by 40% since 1979, while Australia’s have grown by 40%.

It’s also really fucking big, and our population is spread across a large area. Again, bad. We also have a varied and harsh climate. Bad.

Russia is a pretty big country as well and their climate is pretty harsh. Their emissions have dropped by 30% since 1992, while Australia’s have grown.

Except of course, that none of that is practical to change, or any of our fault. Yet I should feel ashamed? Get fucked.

This is what amuses me the most. “None of that is practical to change or any of our fault.” That kind of lazy, defeatist attitude is precisely WHY we are the worst emitters in the world. Huge brains like Ches just throwing up his hands and saying “not my fault”. Of course it’s not your fault, Ches. Meanwhile, the ZCA2020 report says it *is* practical to change – in fact, we could be a zero carbon emission country within ten years – if we can get people like Ches to pull their heads out of their asses.

I’m all for living sustainably, but Aus is not a significant problem IMO, and making us feel bad about it is helpful in no way whatsoever.

Aw, diddums. Did Bad Cameron make you cwy? Grow up, dude. It’s precisely because we are a first world country that we are a significant problem. The rest of the world (read: the developing countries who are still trying to pull themselves out of poverty) are looking towards the first world countries as guidance. If we don’t seem to be taking this stuff seriously, then why should they? Australia should (IMHO) be leading the world on this issue. We have the wealth. We have the political stability. We have the intelligence (well…. some of us). Perhaps most importantly, we have huge sources of renewable energy. Let’s lead the world for once in something other than sport and racist actors.

Hard to argue convincingly over twitter, but whatever, rage subsiding.

Well here’s you chance, Ches. Argue convincingly here. If you can.

Oh, and this from a guy who does marketing for cigars and pergolas? Hilarious.

Yeah I see what those things have to do with each other. No, wait…. I don’t. Please enlighten me. Of course, this is all coming from a self-confessed “car nerd”. I guess when you’re a “car nerd”, the whole idea of reducing carbon emissions is likely to induce cognitive dissonance.

On other Twitter fronts….

My mate Ben Wilks took umbrage to my retweet about how stupid Gillard’s “small Australia” policy is.

@cameronreilly umm, ok. Population has doubled in the last 15 years. Property prices and traffic ARE QUALITY OF LIFE. Seriously, WT?

Actually, Ben – no. Property prices and traffic are NOT quality of life. At all.

This whole “small Australia” policy is seriously dysfunctional. Here’s why:

According to the IMF, Australia ranks #10 in GDP per capita.

On top of that, we have one of the lowest population densities in the world.

If we can’t have quality of life while we are one of the wealthiest countries in the world with one of the lowest population densities – then we are seriously messed up.

This all reminds me of a story Clive Hamilton (he of the internet filter) wrote about in one of his earlier books, Affluenza.

I don’t have the book in front of me, so I’ll paraphrase it. He wrote that the average net household income in Australia has increased by something like 300% since 1950. And yet when you survey the Australian population and ask them “do you have enough to get by”, something like 75% of people say “no”.

We’re messed up, dysfunctional.

When you have an individual who has everything going for them and yet they feel oppressed, it’s often a sign of a psychosis or mental illness.

When you have an entire population who has everything going for them and yet they feel like they don’t have enough to get by, what does that say about the general psyche of the country?

(pic via suburbanbloke’s flickr)

12 thoughts on “Australia: The Unlucky Country?

  1. Cam,
    Incomes may have increased 300 per cent since 1950’s but the cost of living has increased more I think.
    As for immigration, the point is, how many people can the country sustain? The fact is, Australia is mostly dessert.

  2. Don’t mention dessert – I’m on a diet!

    As for desert, well there’s plenty of people around the world who live in desert conditions FAR worse than ours and seem to do okay. Let’s take Qatar, for example. Or Saudi Arabia. Or Afghanistan.

    There were propositions on the table back in the 80s to build an inland city in the middle of Australia, remember that? The Multi-Function Polis? Why didn’t we do it?


  3. Australia (and the USA for that matter) have their fair share of lazy ignorant bogan redneck petrol heads, that might include Ches Trulson. What they don’t understand is that if it were not for them being able to live off the export earnings of all the stuff that is mined up and sent off overseas, they would be forced to live a much different and more sustainable lifestyle. The mining wealth here is a two edged sword: a blessing of easy wealth, and a means to sustain the consumer lifestyle of lazy ignorant bogan redneck petrol heads.

  4. Very brave of you to denigrate me in on a blog i know nothing about, Cameron. Perhaps if you really wanted to discuss it you could have direct messaged me? At least then i would have known about this post. My girlfriend found it in the end, though i’m not sure how.

    I’m not really interested in having a debate with you anyway. You clearly have firmly held beliefs on the subject, and i’m well past feeling the need to argue with strangers. I did have a little brain snap on reading your tweet, although there was nothing particularly special about your post, it was just the straw the broke the camel’s back.

    I’m too busy to reply properly at present, if i can spare some time this evening i’ll try to respond properly to a few of your points.

  5. Ches, you might want to think about who denigrated who. You called me a twat on Twitter. This is my right of reply.

  6. Ahaha, so i did! My apologies. Not the smartest way to begin a discussion.

    There are two points that i was trying to get across in my ranty little tirade. The first is that i don’t believe that measuring a country’s per capita emissions is an intelligent metric. As i mentioned, there are a whole lot of factors that lead to Australia emitting more on a per capita basis than many other countries. Factors like our geography, climate, culture, infrastructure, blah blah blah. A lot of those things can’t be changed, or at least not practically. This does not mean that we shouldn’t reduce our emissions, or that we can’t, but it might mean that for legitimate reasons our per capita emissions will remain ‘high’. It also means, in my opinion only, that using that rather alarmist sound byte is a bit on the nose.

    The second point was that i’m sick to death of being guilted by the mass media. Insinuating that the world is coming to end because i had a shower longer than four minutes or i left something in standby mode instead of unplugged is totally ridiculous. It’s this kind of distraction that means real issues like industrial pollution, nuclear power, et cetera are ignored whilst we all feel like good little citizens for setting our air conditioning at 23 degrees intstead of 21.

    I went off at you because i felt like were perpetuating misinformation.

    I made the quip about your vocation because i find it a little hypocritical of you on the one hand to be talking about personal carbon emissions whilst on the other hand working in a field that specialises in promoting consumption. Cognitive dissonance indeed.

    As for your insinuation about my hobbies, i catch the train or cycle to work, rarely drive, and enjoy restoring used cars to working order (or better). I do enjoy driving however, but i feel i’m doing far less damage to the environment driving as a hobby than i would by commuting every day in the car as many other people do.

  7. The examples you use to try and prove Ches wrong are pretty bad. France has such low per capita emissions because it’s invested heavily in nuclear technology – something none of our parties will touch, which is pretty galling when coming from the Greens who don’t support nuclear technology of ANY kind, which is crazy, especially when they’re the ones who want to cut our emissions the most.

    Also Russia’s emissions went backwards because of the implosion of their economy, handily post 1990 with the fall of communism. They’ve been on the increase since their economy has recovered. Plus they had a LOT of inefficient dirty factories that were being propped up by the regime, and they use nuclear power which helps keep their per capita emissions down.

    Also did you really say “Aw, diddums. Did Bad Cameron make you cwy?” and then follow that up with “Grow up, dude.”?

    It’s not a lack of willpower stopping us from bringing down our emissions, it’s fundamental technological reasons and the fact that Greenies have helped stop ANY nuclear power development in Australia and have also stopped any new dams being built, which stops any hydroelectric power being built.

    Meanwhile solar and wind are RIDICULOUSLY expensive and inefficient, and have all sorts of associated costs that environmentalists like to ignore.

    Also – Quoting Clive Hamilton and Affluenza… *facepalm*

    How can you get high and mighty with people if you market addictive drugs that cause cancer btw?

  8. Miles,

    I am well aware why France has lower emissions per capita. I’m personally convinced that nuclear is a serious option, however we are also making significant progress on alternative, cleaner sources of energy. If you read the ZCA2020 report I mentioned above, the sources of clean energy, and the associated costs, are clearly examined. I used France as an example to reject Ches’ claim that first world countries can’t have low emissions per capita.

    I’m also well aware of the reasons behind Russia’s lower emissions. How their lower emissions came about isn’t the point. Ches is suggesting that a large geographical country must necessarily have higher emissions per capita and that obviously isn’t the case.

    There are no “fundamental technological reasons” for our high emissions per capita, that’s just bullshit. Again – read the report that I linked to before you make such grand pronouncements.

    Despite Clive’s other crimes against humanity, he’s written a number of excellent books, Affluenza & Silencing Dissent included.

    And again you’re wrong thinking that cigars “cause cancer”. The science doesn’t agree with you (

    So, Miles, get your facts straight, then we can talk more.

  9. The fact that you’re such a douche does not make me in any way inclined to agree with you. You could say, “I live on planet Earth” and I would want to disagree with you, just because you are such a giant douche muncher. If you really cared about the issue as much as you claim, you should try not to alienate a potential new audience by being such a massive dickweed. Idiot.

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