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The Frozen Continent

Longtime Webdiarist Scott Dunmore's maiden piece:

I had thought of responding to Richard’s post “Not a drop to drink” but decided my response was too way off topic and the subject matter deserving of special attention. So gentle readers, I decided to attempt my own debut post. Do not expect too much; I am both lazy and pre-occupied.

What I had in mind was to recommend to Richard that he broaden his perspective and see the real problem.

The last COAG meeting that thrashed out the water resource situation between the states and federal governments has done very little to improve the situation as far as I can see. (The COAG website to date is unhelpful, and I have not found any in depth reporting on the outcome other than that Victoria scored itself a good deal.)

The opinion of the press is that nothing radical is going to happen with regard to the management of this most precious resource because the States, individually, retain all the power. So whatever agreement was made is still only nibbling at the edges.

What is needed is national management of, not only water resource  but also infrastructure, health, and education.

Which leads us to our constitution. At this point we should be aware of how it was framed; a legacy of British colonialism that entrenched vested interests at a very parochial level. We are ill served by it. The situation we have, as Tony Blair (I’m no fan of him!) remarked, is not conducive to best governance, with available political talent disseminated along state/federal lines. It goes further; there is a paralysis inherent with the system and un-democratic at that. The ACT has two senators (it might as well have none) and Tasmania with a similar number of citizens has six.

Thus I am proposing a model of government for our country along these lines. That the states be abolished as political entities. I recognise the personal (shall I say tribal? you can’t even call it regional) identification. That has to be preserved.

That we have a national government only and regional bodies that are run by bureaucrats and technocrats appointed by the national government. That we have a head of state, president if you like that is elected mid term with only the power of veto, by the populace. Two terms max.

To achieve this is very difficult. As synchronicity or happenstance would have it, this popped up on the weekend.

If you find agreement with me, it will take a long campaign with substantial backing to get it to happen some time in the future.


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A real frozen continent.

The next descent into an ice age is inevitable but may not happen for another 1000 years. On the other hand, it must be noted that the cooling in 2007 was even faster than in typical glacial transitions. If it continued for 20 years, the temperature would be 14C cooler in 2027.

By then, most of the advanced nations would have ceased to exist, vanishing under the ice, and the rest of the world would be faced with a catastrophe beyond imagining.

Australia may escape total annihilation but would surely be overrun by millions of refugees. Once the glaciation starts, it will last 1000 centuries, an incomprehensible stretch of time.

If the ice age is coming, there is a small chance that we could prevent or at least delay the transition, if we are prepared to take action soon enough and on a large enough scale.

For example: We could gather all the bulldozers in the world and use them to dirty the snow in Canada and Siberia in the hope of reducing the reflectance so as to absorb more warmth from the sun.

We also may be able to release enormous floods of methane (a potent greenhouse gas) from the hydrates under the Arctic permafrost and on the continental shelves, perhaps using nuclear weapons to destabilise the deposits.

We cannot really know, but my guess is that the odds are at least 50-50 that we will see significant cooling rather than warming in coming decades.

The well-established fact that Earth’s climate has changed rapidly in the past and could change rapidly in the future. The issue centers around the paradox that global warming could instigate a new Little Ice Age in the northern hemisphere.

Global warming or global cooling - it's all climate change. Some climate change sceptics are using the fact that there has been severe winters in the northern hemisphere to put doubt on the effects of climate change.

It is hard for the lay person to understand and know what actions are necessary when scientists are in disagreement over what is in fact happening to our planet. It is a time for caution, if is human activity that is causing global warming or global cooling either way the effects are catastrophic.

Until we better understand the way human activity affects  the planet we should limit our pollution and keep our carbon footprint to a minimum. Or we could end up with a real frozen continent.

What happened?

Richard, what has happened to Howard's plan to take over control of the MD Basin? Has that been shelved by Rudd? The plan seems to have floundered in the Murray's mud, along with the cod. I understand the Victorians are still not interested and they consider they are better managers of the Murray than NSW. You just don't hear anything about it all any more.

Meanwhile Cubbie is filling up again and only 2% apparently got across into NSW from those Queensland floods. And that which did many farmers out Bourke way had to watch flow past so it could reach Menindee Lakes and those further down. Did any of it reach Adelaide?

Until the Basin is under the control of one authority or Government, I fear nothing will change. But that does not seem to be a priority of Rudd's at present.

National Interest

Scott, I've read notions that if WA seceded then SA might well move in that direction.  A continent of small nation-states, the breakdown of federation, a council of Australian Nations, perhaps, to attempt to administer continent-wide problems?  We'd end up with exactly the reverse of what you seek.

Jenny, the fact that the Murray is not part of Victorian territory (border on the Vic bank and all) and their ability to control this situation is astounding.  Mind you, as I was saying in the Postcard piece, if the water allocations hadn't been given out so stupidly we wouldn't have this problem.  How dare Cubbie hoard water that is so desperately needed.  The licences should be suspended  until the imbalances are addressed.  At any rate, they'll need to do something before some drongo blows up the bloody dam   The opportunity to become Australia's next folk hero is likely to be a temptation to many.

Or we can wait for a frew years until the South Australian Army takes action in their "national interest."

Tongue in cheek

Richard, the title pretty much sums up my comment about WA although in this context WA just does not figure. There are no river systems in the west that wind up cross border. Not only that but a state whose size outmatches that of most other nations with a small population is hardly viable. It's a big bad lonely world out there. Sure, I've heard rumblings but my bet is it's only that. The Cubbie station situation only serves to emphasise my point. A disgusting deal brokered by Borbidge to look after his big business mates. Beattie, to his credit, tried to undo the damage but was hamstrung.

 "before some drongo blows up the bloody dam". Sorry Richard but it's not a dam, it's a system of levies and to change the topography would take an operation of the same magnitude that created them; saving, as I've said before, a one in 100,000 year flood to wash them away.

PS. Slow down Richard, your typos are irritating, maybe you've got fat fingers.

Oi, who are you calling fat?

Not fat fingers,Scott, (they get much more exercise than the rest of me) but a new (2nd hand auction job) laptop with a skinny keyboard that I'm not used to yet.  Coupla days.  While we're on corrections (of which I do plenty but often overlook my own) could I suggest  that you don't need to use bold every time on a name; once will suffice.

 I understood that your approach to WA secession (nothing secedes like...?) was whimisical, and was just following through the line of thought.  Stranger things and all that.

As for Cubbie, yup I know it's not a dam.  When I find the photo of it from space again I'll post the link.  Time to start praying for that flood.  Perhaps a campaign for the boycott of their product?

Not in my lifetime

Richard, essentially the post was a kite flying exercise. State governments wouldn't have to be coerced if a referendum along my lines ( the detail would certainly have to be determined) was carried.

This is a long haul. If you read the SMH article I linked you can see how ignorant the population at large is with regard to the constitution. You will also see that 56 member states of the UN fundamentally changed their constitutions in a decade. What makes Australia different? I'd suggest apathy. It would take an educational campaign to change this; hence "substantial backing". Cultural change is a gradual process.

"that surrendering localised democracy would be beneficial? "

Ask the people of NSW who have a totally inept and, at least at the edges, corrupt government and an opposition that is moribund.

In your state the government of the day flogged off your electrity supply to Chinese concerns thereby ensuring that all profits made were shipped overseas. Just what got into these dimwit pricks' heads I've no idea.

At present there is no "local accountability". Every second day you will see in the news local opposition to development schemes etc. Vested interests, get rid of them and remove the pox of politics from local government.

"It's ironic in the Murray situation" (I've cleaned up your typo, what are the moderators doing?) precisely my point.

"such as the amalgamation of Vic and NSW", to a very small extent this has happened; Albury/Wodonga; let the process continue.

Mark you, we'd probably see WA seceding from the rest.

Not a hope in Hades

Wow, Scott, that's a broader perspective indeed.  I wonder how State governments could be coerced into giving up power, or local populaces convince that surrendering localised democracy would be beneficial?  Do you think Victorians, South Australians and Tasmanian albatrosses are going to think that remote-control governance from Canberra will improve their lot? I worry that instead of pontificating Premiers we'll end up with bickering bureaucrats,  especially if we surrender localised accountability.

In your scheme, do local councils go as well? Personally I think that if anyone's going to go, they should be the first.

It's ironic in the Murray situation that the State with the least ownership of the river (none at all) seems to have the most power in determining the situation. 

I'd be keen to see a trial, such as the amalgamation of Vic and NSW.  If it works, there'd be a precedent on which the rest of the country could vote in a referendum.

I believe I just saw a pig float by the window.

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