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The Triumph of Climate Politics

Many will remember Scott Parkin as the Halliburton/KBR activiist who was deported from Australia following an adverse ASIO security assessment. Nowadays Parkin is heavily involved in helping folk protect US forests. This blog has been published on Webdiary with Scott's permission.

The Triumph of Climate Politics by Scott Parkin

Supply-sider David Stockman was full of it in 1981 when the Reagan Revolution swept the country. Stockman, a rising star in GOP politics, became Reagan’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget and quickly began looking for ways to curtail the dreaded “welfare state.” And while I don’t agree with his pro-business slash and burn economic philosophies, Stockman found very quickly was that beltway politics (both Democrat and Republican) undercut any attempt to change business as usual. You can get the details in his memoir “The Triumph of Politics.”

Similarly, the reality of D.C.’s climate politics have triumphed over any sort of legislative action to curtail climate change. Last summer, the climate bill died an irrelevant death in the halls of a legislative body bought and sold to a new Gilded Age of Corporate America. And remember, the end product had loopholes for corporate giveaways large enough drive a heavy haul through.

Still to hedge their bets, the Sith Lords spent $121 million in 2009-2010 to flood D.C. with lobbyists to kill the climate legislation. And to keep things interesting in the 2010 election cycles, the oil side of the business spent $19,588,091 on the U.S. political process. And the coal side of things spent $10,423,347.

Do we really think we can outspend or out lobby these amounts of money?

Now, the big greens are telling us that an embattled Lisa Jackson and Environmental Protection Agency are our best hope (there’s that word again) for saving the planet from King Coal and Big Oil’s doomsday economy.

Does anyone really believe this bullshit anymore?

If we follow what Obama does and NOT what he says things make a lot more sense. A couple of recent examples exposing the administrations real energy politics include:

It’s time to build power and work for solutions beyond what Obama, Al Gore or Lisa Jackson can do for us. Any sort of dramatic shift on the fossil fuel doomsday economy (i.e. a real revolution) is not going to be led by those sitting comfortable (coal powered) air conditioned offices in Washington D.C. It’s going to be led by those of us in towns, cities and communities all over North America. And not necessarily in liberal bastions like San Francisco or Seattle, but in red states and conservative rural areas where the real damage is being done.

A global movement of climate justice organizers and direct actionistas has been building People Power against the root causes of climate change for quite some time. In North America, our fight to stop climate change and fossil fuel extraction is happening right now all over the country:

  • Appalachia- Activists have risked life, limb and liberty for years to stop mountaintop removal, and are doing it again at the historic site of the Battle of Blair Mountain in early June.
  • Utah- Tim DeChristopher is most likely going to prison for stopping an illegal land auction that would have drilled for oil and gas in pristine wilderness. Since his initial action, he co-founded Peaceful Uprising which has built a multi-generational multi-issue group to organize direct action on climate and extraction in the reddest of the red states. Look for more from them.
  • Montana and Idaho- Concerned people are putting their bodies on the line to stop tar sands heavy haul shipments to Alberta. A long history of environmental resistance has existed in this region. Now Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming and other mountain regions are becoming active again.

Right now the path is very clear. The world is in upheaval and people power has taken a lead. Dictatorships have been toppled in Egypt and Tunisia. Popular uprisings are still happening in Yemen, Libya and Syria. European anti-austerity movements have emerged in Greece, Iceland, France, the UK and more. The U.S. labor movement’s rank and file has begun to challenge corporate power in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan and beyond.

At this point, we’re on our own. The political establishment manifesting as the Democratic Party and big green non-profit industrial complex won’t show any spine until we’re in the streets mobilizing them. We need to throw down with big, brash, sustained and completely anti-establishment action campaigns.


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Mine is Bigger


Yes Jay,

According to the federal opposition and industry leaders, authorities dithered on how to deal with the problem and bickered about funding, allowing it to get out of control.

Looks like politicians are treating this threat just like the threat from climate change.

THE cost of climate change in the developing world will be up to $US470 billion ($547 billion) each year by 2030, and wealthy countries such as Australia should help pay to fix it, the World Bank says.

Getting the priorities right - a T party manual

Interesting development with the Budget lockout in the US, from Facebook, where an American bemoans the "defanging" of their environmental regulator as to the coal industry, where he claims four thousand a year die more than from the nukes industry (not sure if this is globally or US alone, but its a lot of dead miners and grieving families, either way), a point John Pratt tried to make a little while ago, from memory, although in a slightly different context.

Never let the facts get in the way of opinion.

"If Copernicus, Galileo, Newton and Einstein were testifying today, the Republicans would not accept their views until all the Arctic ice has melted and hell has frozen over, whichever comes first," Inslee said.

As it turns out, Inslee might well be right, because facts and authority alone may not shift people's opinions on climate science or many other topics.

This article helps explain why some of us still deny the facts on climate change. Why it is that some of us fear change.

Getting out of the ivory tower

Perhaps John, the problem is not that people are irrational. Perhaps the problem is that people are rational. I'd argue that group think is a much more valuable survival skill than simplistic rationalism. 

Joe public is faced with lots of conflicting demands He pays greatest attention to realistic solutions to the most pressing real current problems. 

Let's not forget that historically, it's sometimes scientists who most ferociously persecuted other scientists. By the time there is consensus among the scientific community, the borders of science has moved on, and not infrequently reverses previous conclusions.

About time we all absorbed the reality of climate change

Admitting that climate science is complicated, Professor Garnaut says the debate must be grounded on sound information and logical analysis.

"The scientific evidence is clear that the Earth is warming, that humans are making a significant contribution to that," he said.

"The risks are high of serious disruption to our ways of life if there is no effective mitigation of the growth in emissions."

He says it is a "puzzle" that a proportion of Australians "haven't absorbed those basic realities".

Professor Garnaut is puzzled because a lot of Australians haven't absorbed the truth of climate change.

Probably because too many Australians rely on the mainstream press or shock jocks on the radio to get their information.

The vested interests have a monopoly on the media and they do not want to change the status quo.

tight assed, penny wise, pound foolish

Yes, poor old Garnaut.

Watched him for a short while trying to explain a few pertinent concepts to the Insight audience before frustrated, I gave up and went to bed with my sore throat.

They are slow witted cattle, many of these Tparty types, but like their manipulators they are cunning after a fashion.  Their manipulators may be also be sly , but ultimately not clever, since it's their kids also that inherit a dung heap, if the scientists are correct.

Benefits of climate change

At last, scientists speak out about the benefits of climate change. It is disappointing that it needed a FOI demand for the research to be released. As the head of CSIRO says, it is a complex issue that needs open public debate.   

"fewer cyclones, but more intense, more damage"

Keep the paranoia up, Jay.

Not, as it happens, released as a result of an FOI request, but the subject of a presentation at the high-profile Greenhouse 2011 conference, which I think counts as open public debate:

"A warming world will bring fewer tropical cyclones - but the ones that do hit will be more intense, and cause a lot more trouble". 

The damage is far greater than the benefits

Jay, the damage caused by climate change far outweighs the benefits.

A LEADING climate change scientist has warned urgent action must be taken this year to protect the Great Barrier Reef from extinction in the next few decades

And Far North Queensland’s economy – which depends on tourism spending generated largely by the Reef – would bear the worst of the Reef’s extinction.

“It’s the second largest employer in Queensland – that’s about 65,000 jobs and $6.5 billion per year,” Prof Hoegh-Guldberg said.

Not to mention more severe storms.

 NASA scientists have developed a new climate model that indicates that the most violent severe stormsand tornadoes may become more common as Earth’s climate warms.

I am sure the people on the Pacific Islands will be impressed with the so called benefits of climate change.

Low-lying Pacific island nations will be inundated or the rising sea level will invade their drinking water aquifers.

I am sure you will welcome all the climate change refugees to Australia.

Something must be done

John Pratt , So Prof Hoegh-Guldberg has said that something must be done this year or the Barrier Reef will be extinct in a few decades.

It sounds as serious as when Penny Wong warned us that unless we sign everything in Copenhagen, the planet was doomed.

It sounds very much like you are trying to prop up the economy in Cairns again.

You say, "I am sure you will welcome all the climate change refugees to Australia"

Why don't you take them in Cairns and pretend they are tourists?

I think this this is more likely :

"Yesterday, a group ofscientists warned that because of global warming, sea levels will rise so much that parts of Cairns will be under water.

The bad news is?

Parts of Cairns won't be under water."

Cairns canned

There's a fly in every ointment, isn't there Alan?

If they sink Cairns, all the Cairnsites will have to move South.

Then we would have to spend hard earned money building them saunas, so they could feel at home.

Mate, you get it, surely?

It doesn't matter, even if the scientists had their findings down from the mountain, in stone, people and politicians would still dither or dissemble depending on their worldliness or ignorance. Nothing will happen until the water is up around people's lazy necks, and by then it will be too late.

But that's for another generation, you suppose.

We will well and truly be food for worms by then and the next generation may have to literally sink or swim in what we've left them. 

A flat earth

 Back to Scott Parkin's article. I don't think people realise just the magnitude of what conscious people are up against, with TNC's and captive governments.

Half the country actually believe the anti climate change and other ecological side trackings that saturate press and tv, it's so pervasive.

Date with destiny

John, Richard, did either of you get to watch the report on Dateline on Bahrain. Gee , we haven't a clue in this country, honestly...

Stirring up religious extremists

Thousands of protesters, enraged by the burning of a Koran at a Florida church, overran a United Nations compound in the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Friday, killing at least 12 people.

The incident that so enraged Afghans, the burning of a Koran after a mock trial in a small Florida church on March 20, was barely noticed in the United States but widely reported in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The presidents of both countries have called on the United States to arrest Terry Jones, the pastor of the church.

At least 12 UN workers have been killed by Muslim extremists in Afghanistan. The American pastor whose actions led to such violence should be called to account. Religious fanatics anywhere must realise the death and destruction such actions can cause.

Just wondering, John...

Hmm, John, I'm beginning to worry about you.  We're talking about people's movements here, occurring all over the world, and yet you appear to be fixated on extremists and oddballs.  I don't get it... what's happening around the globe is the uprising of substantial population percentages against conditions they're unhappy with.

Do you believe otherwise?


Richard Tonkin, in talking of extremists and odd balls, we'd presume you are referring to the Xtian fundies, unreported in the (reactionary?) US, who provoked the incident John talks of.

How or why do we protest wrongs when they are not reported by media?

The world's population will not rid itself of parasites if examples of the problem such as John reports are not made known.

Why would you bother?

John's report defines a good example of what people are up against.as to neocolonialism and imperialist arrogance, represented in the mentality of the USXtian fundies who burnt that Koran.

Be careful what you pray for..

This is the sort of thing I was referring to in that "Egypt Rising" pome I posted a while back, Paul and John.  If the notion of uprisings is beginning to "go viral" then there are bound to be some bad events amongst the good.  Some might consider this "collateral damage" but it's sad to see people dying.

Gandhi was on telly this arvo.  Got me to thinking that (akin to the Libyan rebels having no war strategy) that half a dozen Mahatmas round the place wouldn't go astray at the moment.   There's not a strong enough locus of non-violence, and if changes are to be positively viewed then folks are going to need to step up to the plate and keep the focus on peace.


Richard and Paul, I did watch Gandhi yesterday. non violence is certainly the way to go. I am not sure it works as well up against powerful governments that do not respect the law. Although the Brits did use guns against peaceful demonstrators, they did show some restraint. The Gaddafis of the world will use whatever weapons they have against unarmed protesters until the last protester is dead.

Still you have to admire someone with the conviction, wisom and courage of Gandhi. Pity he couldn't hold India together and Muslims, Hindus and Christians are still killing each over their religion.

While we have people burning the Koran and others killing innocent people because of that act the ideals that Gandhi believed in seem so far away.

We are witnessing anarchy in the Middle East and it remains to be seen if the people will be better off in the long run.

Democracy is very difficult to achieve.


Hi Tony,

The extremists I am concerned about are those that killed 12 UN workers in Afghanistan and the christian pastor who thought it was a cool idea to burn the Koran without thought of the consequences to the innocent UN workers.

I fully support people who take non violent actions to win freedom. I also support non violent protest to encourage governments to  take action on the twin challenges of climate change and peak oil.

I think that we will all need to protest (hopefully non violently) to change our economic system to take into account the effect our actions have on the planet.

The triumph of capitalist politics

Very well worth reading. And as Richard asks, how much of this is true in Australia?

We have a capitalist monster that bleeds the profits of the real economy into the paper economy, with a relatively few people - many in the US make a lot of money, take little personal risk, and deliver less and less value to society.

How much "lobbying" dough here?

What we have to wonder is how much has been spent on wining and dining Canberra-types to keep fossil fuel in prominence?  Certainly not a hundred million (?) but more than a couple of dollars.

I wouldn't mind guessing too, that the recent resurgence in Australian nuclear debate might flow from a similar well...

Perverse subsidies

Australian subsidies to the fossil fuel industry:

Australian governments (federal, state and territory) continue to use subsidies to achieve environmental and social goals. This may be justifiable where the cost of the subsidy is less than the value of the environmental and social gain that results from the subsidy.

$8.1 billion (91%) of the total fossil fuel subsidies identified are likely to increase GHG emissions above the unsubsidised level. There is a much stronger argument for removal of these subsidies than for fossil fuel subsidies in general. In many cases, the subsidy can be restructured to achieve the desired economic or social objectives without encouraging increased GHG emissions.

About 58% of the total fossil fuel subsidies identified are perverse subsidies as they increase GHG emissions while at the same time reducing economic efficiency. Removal of these perverse subsidiescan provide a ‘double dividend’ of greenhouse abatement and improved economic performance.

If the Labor government was serious about climate change you would think the first step would be to remove these subsidies and use to money to subsidise alternative energy.

No action just highlights how corrupt our government really is - like the US.

Our governments have spent twenty years arguing over a carbon tax all the while subsidising the fossil fuel industry.

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