History of Globalisation and 21st Century

Globalisation has been more apparent in public, political and media narratives whether for economic or national reasons, mostly negative.  However, globalisation is a fact of life and can be positive for individuals, communities, sole traders, small and medium enterprises.

 

In fact, those promoting negatives of globalisation in favour of nativist policies, along with anti-immigration sentiment and antipathy towards educated elites, often have a need to manipulate ageing electorates.  This was seen with Brexit and Trump with the promotion of antipathy towards the EU European Union and multilateral trade agreements or trade blocs; giving advantage to existing global corporates avoiding regulation, taxation, competition and other constraints.

 

From The Mandarin Australia article excerpts from Peter Vanham is head of communications, Chair’s Office, World Economic Forum.

 

A brief history of globalisation

 

When Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2018 announced it had chosen the ancient city of Xi’an as the site for its new regional headquarters, the symbolic value wasn’t lost on the company: it had brought globalisation to its ancient birthplace, the start of the old Silk Road. It named its new offices aptly: “Silk Road Headquarters”. The city where globalisation had started more than 2,000 years ago would also have a stake in globalisation’s future.

 

Alibaba shouldn’t be alone in looking back. As we are entering a new, digital-driven era of globalisation — we call it “Globalisation 4.0” — it is worthwhile that we do the same. When did globalisation start? What were its major phases? And where is it headed tomorrow?

 

Silk roads (1st century BC-5th century AD, and 13th-14th centuries AD)

 

People have been trading goods for almost as long as they’ve been around. But as of the 1st century BC, a remarkable phenomenon occurred. For the first time in history, luxury products from China started to appear on the other edge of the Eurasian continent — in Rome. They got there after being hauled for thousands of miles along the Silk Road. Trade had stopped being a local or regional affair and started to become global.

 

Spice routes (7th-15th centuries)

 

The next chapter in trade happened thanks to Islamic merchants. As the new religion spread in all directions from its Arabian heartland in the 7th century, so did trade. The founder of Islam, the prophet Mohammed, was famously a merchant, as was his wife Khadija. Trade was thus in the DNA of the new religion and its followers, and that showed. By the early 9th century, Muslim traders already dominated Mediterranean and Indian Ocean trade; afterwards, they could be found as far east as Indonesia, which over time became a Muslim-majority country, and as far west as Moorish Spain.

 

Age of Discovery (15th-18th centuries)

 

Truly global trade kicked off in the Age of Discovery. It was in this era, from the end of the 15th century onwards, that European explorers connected East and West — and accidentally discovered the Americas. Aided by the discoveries of the so-called “Scientific Revolution” in the fields of astronomy, mechanics, physics and shipping, the Portuguese, Spanish and later the Dutch and the English first “discovered”, then subjugated, and finally integrated new lands in their economies.

 

First wave of globalisation (19th century-1914)

 

This started to change with the first wave of globalisation, which roughly occurred over the century ending in 1914. By the end of the 18th century, Great Britain had started to dominate the world both geographically, through the establishment of the British Empire, and technologically, with innovations like the steam engine, the industrial weaving machine and more. It was the era of the First Industrial Revolution.

 

The world wars

 

It was a situation that was bound to end in a major crisis, and it did. In 1914, the outbreak of World War I brought an end to just about everything the burgeoning high society of the West had gotten so used to, including globalisation. The ravage was complete. Millions of soldiers died in battle, millions of civilians died as collateral damage, war replaced trade, destruction replaced construction, and countries closed their borders yet again.

 

Second and third wave of globalisation

 

The story of globalisation, however, was not over. The end of the World War II marked a new beginning for the global economy. Under the leadership of a new hegemon, the United States of America, and aided by the technologies of the Second Industrial Revolution, like the car and the plane, global trade started to rise once again. At first, this happened in two separate tracks, as the Iron Curtain divided the world into two spheres of influence. But as of 1989, when the Iron Curtain fell, globalisation became a truly global phenomenon.

 

Globalisation 4.0

 

That brings us to today, when a new wave of globalisation is once again upon us. In a world increasingly dominated by two global powers, the US and China, the new frontier of globalisation is the cyber world. The digital economy, in its infancy during the third wave of globalisation, is now becoming a force to reckon with through e-commerce, digital services, 3D printing. It is further enabled by artificial intelligence, but threatened by cross-border hacking and cyberattacks.

 

Technological progress, like globalisation, is something you can’t run away from, it seems. But it is ever changing. So how will Globalisation 4.0 evolve? We will have to answer that question in the coming years….

 

From The Lowy Institute:

 

Globalisation Is Still Not A Bad Thing

 

Originally published in the Australian Financial Review by Natasha Kassam

 

COVID-19 signals the end of peak globalisation. Borders have hardened. Tourism has withered. Medical supplies have been blocked at ports. Citizens have been prioritised while foreigners were sent home.

 

Globalisation has been much maligned in recent years – already struck by the financial crisis and the US-China trade war. Growing hostility towards global institutions and trade competition has characterised politics of several countries. And with concern about so-called globalism came attacks on the so-called globalists: “The future does not belong to globalists, the future belongs to patriots,” said President Donald Trump at the United Nations General Assembly last year.

 

Australians, by contrast, have remained largely immune to these trends. New Lowy Institute polling finds seven in 10 Australians say globalisation is mostly good for our country, unchanged from 2019. While the United States has succumbed to protectionism and negativity towards migrants, Australians have remained supportive of free trade. Anti-migration sentiment has always lurked in Australia, but years of polling show that most Australians agree that immigration makes our country stronger and wealthier and contributes to our national character.

 

Ongoing struggles in Australia’s relationship with China, our largest trading partner, could fuel further distrust of globalisation. Disputes over beef and barley exports could just be the beginning. Most Australians already say we are too economically dependent on China, and the recent ambiguous threats of economic coercion against Australian exports will only deepen that concern.

 

Globalisation may have been dealt a grave blow by this virus, and Australia can’t save it alone. As a trading nation, that only succeeds by embracing globalisation – even the devastation of COVID-19 hasn’t yet shaken our fundamentals. It may well do so, deep into a global economic slowdown. But to date, Australians have leaned into their national character, and continued to show resilience in the face of populism and protectionism.

 

For more blogs and articles about the Asian Century, Australian politics, business strategy, economics, EU European Union, global trade, populist politics and white nationalism click through.

 

Population, Environment and White Nationalists in Australia – US Links

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Article titled ‘Green Anti-Immigration Arguments Are A Cover For Right Wing Populism’ summarises ZPG Zero Population Growth in Australia, US white nationalist links, citing Paul Ehrlich and John Tanton. A symptom of US based radical right libertarianism and eugenics, presented as liberal, environmental and science based, but in fact supported by oligarchs.

 

The clearest signals emerged in the US in the ’70s when simultaneously fossil fuel companies became aware of global warming due to carbon emissions (and threatened by Nixon’s EPA), ZPG was established with Ehrlich, Tanton et al., supported by Rockefeller Bros. (Standard Oil then Exxon), Ford and Carnegie Foundations (according to the Washington Post), Club of Rome promoting Limits to Growth PR construct (including carrying capacity, Herman Daly’s steady-state economy suggesting protectionism to preclude global competition etc.) hosted on Rockefeller estate, sponsored by VW and Fiat, while James Buchanan and later Koch’s et al. started promoting libertarian economics (also Friedman, Hayek, Rand and Chicago School), nativism and developing think tanks for influence in politics, academia and media (according to MacLean’s ‘Democracy in Chains’ and Mayer’s ‘Dark Money’), including ALEC, Heritage Foundation etc..

 

Green Anti-Immigration Arguments Are A Cover For Right Wing Populism

 

Tony Goodfellow | 22nd February, 2019

 

With the backdrop of dramatic decrease in migration to Australia in 2018 to a 10 year low, the population debate has reared its ugly head. In recent months Dick Smith has run an advertising blitz with the title ‘overpopulation will destroy Australia’ that compares population growth to cancer and recently took stage at Dark + Dangerous Thoughts at Mona arguing “no” for the proposition “Do We Let Them In?”. Dick Smith’s intervention comes as members of the far right continue to focus on immigration as a major issue. For example, the newly minted Katter’s Australian Party senator, Fraser Anning, praised the White Australia Policy in his inaugural speech and echoed Nazi rhetoric saying “the final solution to the immigration problem of course is a popular vote”. The Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also recently spoken about reducing Australia’s immigration intake.

 

The two views, although, coming from different perspectives, one nominally in the name of “sustainability” and the other a throwback to colonialism steeped in racism and xenophobia, arrive at the same destination, a hermetical view of the world projecting fear onto an outsider. In Dick Smith’s view the outsider is coming to destroy the environment and it Anning’s version they threaten the “European-Christian” ethno-white state.

 

The environmental rhetoric of the population debate might be alluring to progressives. Who would argue against clean air and clean water? Who wouldn’t agree that the current paradigm of growth is unsustainable? The problem is that an analysis based solely in population is superficial, creating solutions that end up marrying with the worst parts of Australian politics – far-right populism. If unchecked environmentalists focused solely on population threaten to be co-opted and driving a wedge in the environmental movement – because on the surface the arguments sound appealing.
Debate about population within the environment movement has played out many times, with many of the arguments not being new. Dick Smith’s manifesto proclaims “The prime reason for the decline in living standards for many Australian workers is our population growth.”

 

However, whose environment is he trying to protect?

 

Background to the environmental population debate

 

In the late 1960’s and onward a debate raged in environmental groups that threatened to tear them apart. The hotly debated issue was about population, spurned on by the publication of the neo-Malthusian The Population Bomb by Paul R. Ehrlich.

 

The Population Bomb is an easy-to-read polemic written for a popular audience and a guide for organising. In Ehrlich’s view over-population is leading to societal and environmental collapse and the issue needs immediate policy action. It thus begun with the famous lines, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over,” and the pace continues:

 

“Overpopulation is now the dominant problem.

 

Overpopulation occurs when numbers threaten values.

 

…regardless of changes in technology or resource consumption and distribution, current rates of population growth guarantee an environmental crisis which will persist until the final collapse.

 

There are some professional optimists around who like to greet every sign of dropping birth rates with wild pronouncements about the end of the population explosion.

 

Many of these countries, some of which are the poorest, most undernourished, and most overpopulated in the world, are prime candidates for a death-rate solution to the Population explosion

 

Our position requires that we take immediate action at home and promote effective action worldwide. We must have population control at home, hopefully through changes in our value system, but by compulsion if voluntary methods fail.”

 

He argues that population is a geometrical ratio:

 

“If growth continued at that rate for about 900 years, there would be some 60,000,000,000,000,000 people on the face of the earth…Unfortunately, even 900 years is much too far in the future for those of us concerned with the population explosion. As you will· see, the next nine years will probably tell the story.”

 

He graphically compares population growth to cancer, just like Dick Smith:

 

“We can no longer afford merely to treat the symptoms of the cancer of population growth; the cancer itself must be cut out.”

 

In “Chapter 1 The Problem” Ehrlich writes that “I have understood the population explosion intellectually for a long time. I came to understand it emotionally one stinking hot night in Delhi a few years ago.”

 

It would be hard not to be terror-stricken after reading The Population Bomb and it inspired many to action – perhaps prematurely. One argument, coming from a milieu of a white middle-class that some scholars have called an “apartheid ecology”, could be characterised as the “Green anti-immigrant” position. This position argued that there needed to be a national population policy in the United States that centred on radically reducing immigration.

 

This debate had echoes of the 18th century where many often turned to population control to solve social ills. This movement was famously satirised by Jonathan Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal’ or its longer title ‘A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Publick’. It also had echoes of Thomas Malthus who posited in An Essay on the Principle of Population that population would exceed food supply:

 

“The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race

 

Taking the population of the world at any number, a thousand millions, for instance, the human species would increase in the ratio of — 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, etc. and subsistence as — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, etc. In two centuries and a quarter, the population would be to the means of subsistence as 512 to 10: in three centuries as 4096 to 13, and in two thousand years the difference would be almost incalculable, though the produce in that time would have increased to an immense extent.”

 

An Essay on the Principle of Population expressed a view where empathy to certain groups, such as the poor, would spell disaster. His ideas led those in power to look at famine as good for society and that support for those not well off as creating “the poor which they maintain” . Marx famously argued against Malthus:

 

“The hatred of the English working class for Malthus—the ‘mountebank-parson,’ as Cobbett rudely called him…—was thus fully justified and the people’s instinct was correct here, in that they felt that he was no man of science, but a bought advocate of their opponents, a shameless sycophant of the ruling classes.”

 

This account was pretty accurate considering Malthus has been used to wage war on the poor. “Over the last 200 years” according to eco-socialist John Bellamy Foster “Malthusianism has thus always served the interests of those who represented the most barbaric tendencies within bourgeois society.”

 

Malthus’ view would end up marrying with Eugenics to form an ideological base for the Nazis. From early on Hitler fetishised the idea that population was the problem:

 

“The annual increase of population in Germany amounts to almost 900,000 souls. The difficulties of providing for this army of new citizens must grow from year to year and must finally lead to a catastrophe, unless ways and means are found which will forestall the danger of misery and hunger.”

 

Tragically his solution to his manufactured population problem was to violently enlarge the borders of the state, encourage higher fertility of anyone who was in Arthur de Gobineau’s ahistorical category of the true Germans or Aryan race while offsetting this by genocide of certain populations he deemed too foreign, not nationalistic enough or inferior.

 

Brief History of the rise of concern for population to be anti-immigration.

 

After The Population Bomb was released the new wave of the population debate played out in the one the largest and oldest conservation groups, the Sierra Club, leading to a decades old internecine struggle. The publication solidified for many that overpopulation was the most important issue for environmentalists. The polemic had a forward by David Brower, the executive director of the Sierra Club. He tied the Sierra Club’s mission to the call to action of the The Population Bomb, writing:

 

“The roots of the new brutality, it will become clear from The Population Bomb, are in the lack of population control. There is, we must hope and predict, a chance to exert control in time. We would like to predict that organizations which, like the Sierra Club, have been much too calm about the ultimate threat to mankind, will awaken themselves and others, and awaken them with an urgency that will be necessary to fulfillment of the prediction that mankind will survive. We must use our political power to push other countries into programs which combine agricultural development and population control.”

 

One scholar writes that the Ehrlich’s polemic “convinced many people that population expansion would eventually transcend the earth’s carrying capacity, leading to ecological disaster”. In doing so population became the pre-eminent concern for many environmentalists. It wasn’t long before environmental groups split on the issue. Population policy brought up many difficult questions that advocates could not address. On the question of scale, for example, should population be addressed globally or nationally? How do you address it nationally when the fertility rate is so low? Some proponents of addressing overpopulation decided the most politically acceptable way was to address it nationally, primarily through drastically reducing immigration. This focus on immigration somewhat overlook the arbitrary nature of both the new population goal and narrowly focusing on national population instead of consumption. There was no evidence that immigration size was related to ecological damage but the fear of population getting out of control was an overriding logic, and immigration provided a useful political tool……. continues……

 

Further reading

 

I’m an environmental journalist, but I never write about overpopulation. – Here’s why: https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/9/26/16356524/the-population-question

 

Greenwash: Nativists, Environmentalism and the Hypocrisy of Hate: https://www.splcenter.org/20100630/greenwash-nativists-environmentalism-and-hypocrisy-hate

 

Life in a ‘degrowth’ economy, and why you might actually enjoy it: https://theconversation.com/life-in-a-degrowth-economy-and-why-you-might-actually-enjoy-it-32224

 

Here’s what a population policy for Australia could look like: https://theconversation.com/heres-what-a-population-policy-for-australia-could-look-like-101458

 

Other related sources:

 

Betts K, Ideology and Immigration, Volume 1, Number 4 (Summer 1991), The Social Contract Press, https://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc0104/article_56.shtml

 

Betts K, Population Policy Issues, Volume 8, Number 2 (Winter 1997-1998), The Social Contract Press, https://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc0802/article_698.shtml

 

Betts K, A Conversation With Jean Raspail*, (Reprint) Volume 15, Number 4 (Summer 2005), The Social Contract Press, https://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc1504/article_1340.shtml (* Steve Bannon’s favourite)

 

Birrell R, Australian Nation-State, Volume 7, Number 2 (Winter 1996-1997), The Social Contract Press, https://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc0702/article_615.shtml

 

Bricker D & Ibbitson J, 2019, Empty Planet, Signal Books, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37585564-empty-planet

 

Haney-Lopez I, 2014, Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class, Oxford University Press USA, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17847530-dog-whistle-politics

 

Jaco S, Anti-Immigration campaign has begun Washington Post May 8 1977 https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1977/05/08/anti-immigration-campaign-begun/

 

MacLean N, 2017, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, Viking, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30011020-democracy-in-chains

 

Mayer J, 2016, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, Doubleday, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27833494-dark-money

 

Pearce F, 2010, The Coming Population Crash: And Our Planet’s Surprising Future, Beacon Press, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7788578-the-coming-population-crash

 

van Onselen L, MacroBusiness (Australia) many articles about immigration, NOM net overseas migration, international education and population growth using research of Birrell and Betts https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/author/leith/

 

For more articles and blogs about Australian politics, demography, population growth and white nationalism click through.

Tactics Against Bipartisan Climate Change Policy in Australia – Limits to Growth?

A recent ABC article ‘The day that plunged Australia’s climate change policy into 10 years of inertia‘, endeavoured to describe how climate change consensus was broken by former Liberal MP Andrew Robb who claimed he had followed the ‘Limits to Growth’ (LTG) theory via the Club of Rome but changed his mind, hence withdrew support on bipartisan support on carbon emission measures (?).

And so it was that Andrew Robb made one of the most extraordinary and — by most conventional measures — indefensible tactical decisions in the history of political chicanery.

Also reported in climate science denial blog in the USA Watts Up With That with post titled ‘How “The Limits to Growth” Broke Australia’s Bipartisan Carbon Tax’, as did Catallaxy Files in ‘Australia Follow the climate money and the time when Tony beat Malcolm by one vote’ which also promotes climate science denialism.

In fact the LTG theory, ‘a riddle wrapped up in an enigma’, is irrelevant to climate change as it was developed as a PR construct of liberal and environment ideas or theory then (misre)presented publicly as grounded and tested empirical science to confuse debates, then both opponents and protagonists.

The pseudo-science of LTG was developed and presented via the Club of Rome and applied by some of the participants and collaborators including Herman Daly’s ‘Steady-state economy’ (autarkist economy), Paul Ehrlich’s ‘population bomb’ and his Zero Population Growth (ZPG) colleague John ‘passive eugenics’ Tanton to support immigration restrictions for non-Europeans.

Interesting was that the Club of Rome was hosted on the Rockefeller (Standard Oil/Exxon) estate and sponsored by Fiat and VW, while ZPG had support from Rockefeller Brothers, Ford and Carnegie Foundations; strong whiff of fossil fuels, global corporates/oligarchs and eugenics.

LTG helped encourage a pincer movement of seemingly unrelated ideas or constraints which in fact protect the corporate and personal interests of such global players.  Daly’s autarkist Steady-state theory stresses nation states, avoidance of trade agreements (and environmental regulations) etc. while allowing long standing global corporates (with existing footprints) to operate without commercial, competitive or regulatory constraint (James Buchanan’s radical right libertarianism for all, i.e. ‘Public Choice Theory‘, except when there is state support for global corporates).

From University of Sussex on Limits to Growth or ‘Models of Doom‘:

‘An interdisciplinary team at Sussex University’s Science Policy Research Unit reviewed the structure and assumptions of the models used and published its finding in Models of Doom; showing that the forecasts of the world’s future are very sensitive to a few unduly pessimistic key assumptions. The Sussex scientists also claim that the Meadows et al. methods, data, and predictions are faulty, that their world models (and their Malthusian bias) do not accurately reflect reality.’

How could they promote not just junk science but inequitable libertarian economics to the masses for the benefit of the few and have ‘Turkeys vote for Christmas’?

Brexit is a good example, Trump also and Australia since Tampa refugee incident, i.e. dog whistling immigration, population growth, and white nationalism, then encourages borders, withdrawal from trade agreements and insular view of the world, while allowing global corporates to fly under the radar and conservative political parties to gain votes (especially amongst the upper median age cohort) to implement the right policies (or not at all).

 

The day that plunged Australia’s climate policy into 10 years of inertia

BY ANNABEL CRABBUPDATED SUN AT 1:28PM

Ten years ago Andrew Robb arrived at Parliament House intent upon an act of treachery.

No-one was expecting him. Robb was formally on leave from the Parliament undergoing treatment for his severe depression.

But the plan the Liberal MP nursed to himself that morning would not only bring about the political demise of his leader, Malcolm Turnbull, but blow apart Australia’s two great parties irrevocably just as they teetered toward consensus on climate change, the most divisive issue of the Australian political century.

They have never again been so close.

A decade later, according to the ABC’s Australia Talks National Survey, climate change is a matter of urgent community concern. Eighty-four per cent of respondents said that climate change was real and that action was warranted. When offered a range of 19 issues and asked which were of gravest personal concern, climate change ranked at number one.

As bushfires ravage the landscape and drought once again strangles vast tracts of the continent, the inability of the Australian Parliament to reach agreement on how to answer the threat of climate change — or even discuss it rationally — may well be one of the drivers of another shrieking headline from the Australia Talks research: 84 per cent of respondents also feel that Australian politicians are out of touch with the views of the people they represent.

This is the story — told on its 10th birthday — of a political event that changed the course of a nation’s history.

How bipartisan policy fell apart

Robb was on sick leave from his job as shadow minister for climate, managing the notoriously difficult transition from one anti-depressant medication to another.

In his absence, acting shadow minister for climate Ian Macfarlane had successfully negotiated, with the authority of Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull, a deal with the Rudd government to land the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, or CPRS.

An extraordinary tactic

And so it was that Andrew Robb made one of the most extraordinary and — by most conventional measures — indefensible tactical decisions in the history of political chicanery.

Parliament House is no stranger to mental illness. Historically, its sufferers have covered their tracks, loath to be seen as vulnerable.

But this must be the only recorded occasion on which mental illness has been used as a tactic.

Robb ripped himself a scrap of paper and scrawled a note to Turnbull.

“The side effects of the medication I am on now make me very tired. I’d be really grateful if you could get me to my feet soon,” he wrote.

Turnbull called Robb to speak soon after. He rose, and denounced the proposed scheme in forensic detail, his words carrying significant weight as the erstwhile bearer of the relevant portfolio.

The deal never recovered. The meeting went on for six more hours. Turnbull — a streetfighter when cornered — added the numbers of shadow Cabinet votes to the “yes” votes in the party room and declared that he had a majority.

Leadership contest

The party room wasn’t buying it. Turnbull was cooked.

One week and one day later — December 1, 2009 — a ballot was held for the leadership of the Liberal Party.

Tony Abbott — who nominated against both Turnbull and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey — won by a single vote.

The Abbott opposition was born, with its strident campaign against Labor’s “great big new tax on everything”.

The next day, the emissions trading scheme legislation went to a vote in the Parliament and was defeated soundly.

Both the Coalition and the Greens voted against.

The Rudd government relinquished its attempts to put a price on carbon. Rudd himself was overthrown mid-2010. Julia Gillard staked her political life on installing a carbon price, but lost it at the 2013 election in the face of Abbott’s muscular anti-carbon-tax campaign.

Abbott installed his “Direct Action” model which survives to this day, despite Turnbull’s subsequent prime ministership, during which he tried and failed to introduce the National Energy Guarantee, a legislative device aimed at establishing reliable supply and reduced emissions from the energy sector….

….’You can still see the scars’

For Kane Thornton, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council, the past 10 years are a tale of intense frustration.

“What happened back then has just so fundamentally shaped the direction and the context for climate and energy policy ever since,” he says…..

…..Visiting Sydney this week, the founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, British-born Michael Liebreich, was brutal in his assessment of Australia’s contemporary energy situation.

“It’s unbelievable how you can have a country with such cheap solar power, such cheap wind power, frankly such cheap natural gas and yet you still have expensive power and an unreliable grid,” he told ABC’s AM.

“I mean, how do you do that? It’s a government failure.”

Turnbull, in an interview published on Saturday by The Guardian, said the climate debate in Parliament was hostage to “insurgents” inside the Coalition.

“There are plenty of odd beliefs out there and conspiracy theories but what I have always struggled to understand is why climate denialism still has the currency that it has, particularly given the evidence of the impact of climate change is now so apparent, and it is particularly apparent to people living in regional and rural Australia,” he said.

“Precisely what has been forecast is happening.”…..

…..Robb admits that his was an extraordinary intervention in a sliding-doors juncture of Australian political history.

“I’ve seen so often in my career where something monumental gets down to one vote. Then when the vote’s taken, it sticks, and the world adjusts. It was the beginning of Tony — who won by one vote. Democracy’s an amazing thing, really. And it does show you that if you’ve got half of the votes or just over half or just under, that can reflect community attitudes too,” he says.

“This is not a fault of democracy, it’s a fact.”

He mentions that when he was a much younger man, he was “a great student” of the Club of Rome, an association of scientists, bureaucrats, politicians and public thinkers who in 1972 published the book Limits To Growth, warning that the world’s resources could not withstand the depredations of ceaseless economic growth indefinitely.

Limits To Growth is still the highest-selling environmental book in the history of the world, having sold 30 million copies in more than 30 languages.

But Robb’s early fascination with the work gave way to distrust of its conclusions and primitive computer modelling; he says its warnings of resource exhaustion and economic collapse towards the end of the 20th century were overstated.

“The thing they didn’t talk about was technology. That you could find gas 300 kilometres offshore, for example, and find a way to bring it onshore. Because of this, the Club of Rome — which was quite a reputable group of people — looked more and more ridiculous as the years rolled on.”

The Club of Rome has its critics and its defenders; Limits To Growth was commonly derided by the 1990s as a misguided Doomsday scenario, but has enjoyed something of a renaissance lately. The CSIRO published a paper in 2008 finding that the book’s 30-year modelling of consequences from a “business as usual” approach to economic growth was essentially sound.

But what’s not deniable is that this work influenced one young man who grew up to be one member of a parliamentary party with a singular role to play in one vote on a policy that would either change or not change the course of a country.

Democracy, he says, is an amazing thing.

Or an infuriating thing. Or mysterious. Or random.’

 

For more articles and blog posts about population growth, immigration and white nationalism click through.