I'm writing this short article because I want you to feel angry. The kind of anger that gives you pause and gets 100% of your focus. I want you to feel an anger that is pure with the kind of intensity that makes you want to scream.
I'm not writing this to make you feel depressed by the level of incompetence of the people charged with a Duty of Care for citizens and the natural environment they inhabit.
I want you to feel intense anger about the selfish disregard for the greater good of everyone in our society.
It's essential to make the distinction between frustration and anger. Frustration can be a catalyst for dinner party chat. Anger is the catalyst for radical action. Radical action and inspirational leadership are what we need. I don't mean in a selfish sense. Not at all. I'm not expecting that I will endure a full-blown climate catastrophe during the remainder of my life.
I mean an intensity of anger that kickstarts action on behalf of your children and hopefully their children.
Frustrations come and go. It's easy to be distracted by mere frustrations, much less so from the purity of anger.
My intense anger is prompted by a Hancock Lecture by Dr Frances Flanagan for the Academy of the Humanities. Dr Flanagan makes a compelling plea to urgently take measures to protect future generations.
I feel embarrassed to say I'm an Australian.
For 100 years, Australia's been a country that has recklessly and selfishly mined and exported enough fossil fuel to negatively impact the potential for the survival of Earth's natural systems. We're not alone in this abject disregard for our children's futures. But why would we be a role model for other selfish assholes?
Dr Flanagan's lecture included this text that gives clues to what our children will endure:
'As Australian adults know their country, Australia will be lost and the world we know it gone as well. The physical environment will be more harsh, far more extreme, and devastatingly brutal when angry. As for the human experience—the quality of life, opportunities to partake in nature's treasures, the capacity to grow and prosper—all will be greatly diminished. Lives will be cut short. Trauma will be far more common and good health harder to hold and maintain. None of this will be the fault of nature itself. It will be largely inflicted by the inaction of this generation of adults, in what might fairly be described as the greatest inter-generational injustice ever inflicted by one generation of humans upon the next.'
Our collective fossil-fuel-powered disaster has been predicted since the mid-1950s. Starting in 1955, renowned scientist, Jon von Neumann gave the world an early warning of what he saw evolving. Posthumously recognized as the most brilliant scientific mind of the 20th century, von Neumann was way ahead of the Greenhouse curve. But the world ignored his warning.
Twenty years later, in 1977, Frank Press, Head of the US Office of Science & Technology, expanded on the implications of ever-increasing Greenhouse gas emissions. But the world, and the President, ignored his warning.
Then in 1988, the Shell Oil* Greenhouse Effect Working Group published a paper that accurately described the creation of a bleak future. The fact that the greatest Greenhouse Gas polluter in history had a Greenhouse Effect Working Group in the 1980s should have been ringing alarm bells and was oxymoronic. But Shell and the world ignored their warning.
Are you a parent?, an Uncle or Aunt?, a teacher?, are you a Grandparent?, are you a person who feels strongly about inter-generational responsibilities? Do you feel a Duty of Care to future generations?
If you are any of these personas, then you should feel intense anger towards the people who have led us to the edge of the cliff, and towards the people in power who ignored the warnings. We are all teetering on the edge and we're taking our children with us into the abyss.
Author: Scientist Jon von Neumann - 1955
"The carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by industry's burning of coal and oil, more than half of it during the last generation, may have changed the atmosphere's composition sufficiently to account for the general warming of Earth by about one degree."
Author: US Office of Science & Technology - 1977
"Fossil fuel combustion has increased exponentially over the last 100 years. As a result, the atmospheric concentration of Co2 is now 12 percent above the pre-industrial revolution level and may grow to 1.5 to 2.0 times that level within 60 years. Because of the "greenhouse effect" of atmospheric CO2, the increased concentration will induce global climatic warming from 0.5 degrees celsius to 5 degrees celsius. To put this in perspective, an increase of 5 degrees would exceed in 60 years the normal temperature swing between an ice age and a normal temperature that takes place over tens of thousands of years."
Author: Shell Oil Greenhouse Effect Working Group - 1988
"Mathematical models of the Earth's climate indicate that if this warming occurs, it could create significant changes in sea levels, ocean currents, precipitation patterns, regional temperature, and weather. These changes could be larger than any that have occurred over the last 12,000 years. Such fast and dramatic changes would impact the human environment, future living standards, and food supplies, and could have major social, economic, and political consequences."
*Shell Oil and Exxon stand out as the two corporations that have managed to inflict the most significant damage on our planet. It's not only Shell and Exxon, but these two companies are the worst-of-the-worst and a disgrace to their management and shareholders.