Australia, Climate Change, and Green Colonialism

I’m working on a couple pieces relating to this, but I wanted to post this video, because it makes some important points. Heading into the 21st century, we’re facing a lot of big choices, and a lot of changes in how we interact with our planet, and with each other. Changing our energy sources and infrastructure, and changing how we use the resources of this planet has to come with changes in how we treat our fellow humans on a global scale.

Whether it’s helium in Tanzania, needed for things like MRI scanners, or lithium in Bolivia needed for our current battery technology, if we continue the patterns of colonialism and capitalist exploitation, we will destroy ourselves through the pattern of stripping parts of the planet bare, and “moving on”. This approach to fueling our societies leads to slavery and genocide, and is inextricably tied to our inability to meaningfully respond to our global environmental crisis.

Check out the video, and stay tuned for more on the human cost of not changing how we do things.

Climate action in the global north cannot be at the expense of the global south. We must be clear about the causes of climate destruction and support a Green New Deal that addresses the problem without sacrificing the Global South to a new “green” colonialism.


  1. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    More support for the idea that the Green New Deal is more about social revolution and up-ending the social order than it is about environmentalism. The video claims that it’s capitalism that is the cause of global warming. That’s facile and so simplified that it’s childish. No, the cause of climate change is the emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and the cause of that is that the cheapest and quickest way to raise the standard of living in poor countries and maintain the standard of living in rich countries involves the emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. This is true no matter whether you have a pure libertarian free market economy, or a central command economy ala cliche communism. There’s a simple tragedy of the commons going on, that each individual nation and people can make themselves better off by burning coal and natural gas, at the expense of wrecking the climate for everyone.

    One of the new Green talking points is how to fix this in a capitalism framework, and that is greenhouse gas emission taxes (preferrably a fee-and-dividend approach). You don’t need to throw out capitalism to get that done.

    Similar problems would be faced in a hypothetical central command economy system, like China. If the Chinese government were to go full renewables, it would greatly hurt the prosperity of the people of China, and make them very unpopular. One of the basic reasons why the Chinese government doesn’t face more political opposition is because the economy is doing well. If that changes, then the Chinese government will face some severe political backlash.

    Fundamentally, in both the cliche pure free market economy and the cliche pure central command economy, the reason for the emission of greenhouse gases is that it’s popular among the people. Getting people around the world to stop burning fossil fuels is a colossal collective action issue that is possibly insurmountable – politically. You only need to look at Australia to see that this is true. They had a greenhouse gas emissions tax, and then by popular vote, they got rid of it.

    Fortunately for humanity, there is a third option. If we could use another form of energy that was cheap, clean, abundant, without significant greenhouse gas emissions, then we could sustain our standard of living and raise the rest of the world out of poverty, and do so cheaply. If we could do so cheaper than coal and natural gas, then we wouldn’t have to work against the innate selfishness and short-sighted-ness of the people re the tragedy of the commons. Again, fortunately, this is an option. There is such a technology. It’s nuclear power.

    Unfortunately for humanity, the people who are profiting off fossil fuels are funding shills to attack nuclear power, many leading Green experts and NGOs, who use propaganda, misinformation, and misleading emotional appeals, and romantic regressive Luddite myths, appealing back to a simpler time where people lived in harmony with nature, which is a past that never existed. The solution to these problems is to go forward, not backward. The solution to the problems of humans harming the environment is not to make humans live in harmony with nature. The solution is to remove humanity from nature and pack them into cities, and to reduce their other needs for land, i.e. farmland, and all of that requires more energy expenditure, and thankfully, nature has provided us a way to do that cleanly, cheaply, safely, and sustainably. It’s nuclear power.

  2. says

    They will continue to fund anti-nuclear shills for as long as they have the resources to do so. Like it or not, the opposition to your “quickest and easiest” solution exists, and will need to be overcome. Doing so will not be quick or easy, and it will be more difficult without addressing the sources of the power opposing it that YOU have identified.

    Unfortunately for humanity, the people who are profiting off fossil fuels are funding shills to attack ALL alternatives, and they will keep doing so for as long as they are able. Saying “if only people would just realize nuclear is better” doesn’t change that, which is why part of the work must be to change their ability to keep funding opposition to change.

    You keep acting like irrational opposition to good ideas isn’t a “real” problem, and that the climate problem is somehow separate from the social and economic systems that brought us to where we are. Changing those systems is a necessary step in dealing with the pollution issues, precisely because of the power dynamics you mention.

  3. StevoR says

    @ ^ Abe Drayton : Agreed.

    Also I think scapegoating the Greens and left-wing people generally here is pretty appalling, unfair and out of proportion too. Yes, you can argue that they’ve blocked some nuclear power and whether that’s rational and warranted by the science or not but at least they are focusing on and not denying the reality of the problem and its scale and the absolute need for us to take immediate action. Unlike the reichwing side of politics some of whom have also championed nuclear power :

    Which, okay, is tarring by association a bit here and,yes, that is a logical fallacy but you can see how this is cause for suspicion fromleftleaning environmentalists when a lot of those calling for nuclear energy are also those who refuse to accept the reality and gravity of the scientific evidence and are consistently wrong about a lot of other issues and often have vested personal interests as well.

    Meanwhile this is happening now :

    Plus this :

    in addition to so much more..

    How long does it take to build nuclear reactors now? How long have we got left?

    If nuclear ever could’ve been a major factor in slowing and fighting Global Overheating once then I think that window has probly now closed.

  4. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    To both of you:

    From where I sit, the leftist Greens are the primary political obstacle to more nuclear power, and not the climate change deniers. Again, for example, Germany already spent enough money on renewables so that if it spent that money instead on nuclear, it would have eliminated all CO2 emissions from its electricity grid, and probably have enough left over to electrify its transport.

    It is not climate change deniers that are stopping action on climate change. It’s the typical climate change activist for whom being anti-nuclear is more important than being pro-science and pro-environment. Thus, I am attacking the primary problem.

    And it’s not like the Greens are mildly better than Republicans. I actually think that they’re worse. The other great example is my new home state of California. Circa 1980, California had enough nuclear power plants already built or planned that today we would have eliminated CO2 emissions from electricity production. However, Jerry Brown, Democrat, with his financial ties to fossil fuels and his Luddite Green allies, killed most nuclear power in the state, and built coal instead.

    Let me summarize that for you – if not for the anti-nuclear Greens, California would already have eliminated its CO2 emissions from electricity a whole decade or two before most of the world knew about climate change.

    Nuclear power is the best option by far. It would still be the best option even the negatives of CO2 emissions didn’t exist. That’s why they were being built, until fossil fuel barons used the cult-like Luddite Green fools as unwitting pawns to stop the transition to nuclear.

    This is what leading climate scientists are saying. For example, James Hansen:

    A facile explanation would focus on the ‘merchants of doubt’ who have managed to confuse the public about the reality of human-made climate change. The merchants play a role, to be sure, a sordid one, but they are not the main obstacle to solution of human-made climate change.

    The bigger problem is that people who accept the reality of climate change are not proposing actions that would work.


    The insightful cynic will note: “Now I understand all the fossil fuel ads with windmills and solar panels – fossil fuel moguls know that renewables are no threat to the fossil fuel business.” The tragedy is that many environmentalists lineup on the side of the fossil fuel industry, advocating renewables as if they, plus energy efficiency, would solve the global climate change matter.

    Can renewable energies provide all of society’s energy needs in the foreseeable future? It is conceivable in a few places, such as New Zealand and Norway. But suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.

    This Easter Bunny fable is the basis of ‘policy’ thinking of many liberal politicians. Yet when such people are elected to the executive branch and must make real world decisions, they end up approving expanded off-shore drilling and allowing continued mountaintop removal, long-wall coal mining, hydro-fracking, etc. – maybe even a tar sands pipeline. Why the inconsistency?

    Because they realize that renewable energies are grossly inadequate for our energy needs now and in the foreseeable future and they have no real plan. They pay homage to the Easter Bunny fantasy, because it is the easy thing to do in politics. They are reluctant to explain what is actually needed to phase out our need for fossil fuels. Reluctance to be honest might seem strange, given that what is needed to solve the problem actually makes sense and is not harmful to most people. I will offer a possible explanation for their actions below.

    Kerry Emanuel:

    The anti-nuclear bias of this latest IPCC release is rather blatant, and reflects the ideology of the environmental movement. History may record that this was more of an impediment to decarbonization than climate denial.

    Quoting StevoR:

    If nuclear ever could’ve been a major factor in slowing and fighting Global Overheating once then I think that window has probly now closed.

    You speak as though there is another option. There is not.

    Also, France converted half their grid to nuclear in only 15 years. Contrary to popular myth, building nuclear doesn’t have to take that long, and as Germany is showing today with its very slow progress, nuclear is quicker than every other alternative – real and imaginary.

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