Beware Of Trojan Horses Bearing Rodents  

Posted by Big Gav

Well - its a balmy 8 degrees above the normal temperature for this time of year down here, but that didn't stop me sneaking in a good weekend of skiing down south. And at least we aren't on fire like Greece is.

The Australian has an article that firms up my belief that the Rodent's trampling over Aboriginal land rights is a thinly disguised uranium grab - "Leaders suspicious of 'trojan horse' intervention".

TWO months after the federal Government's unprecedented intervention in the Northern Territory, the nation's peak Aboriginal organisations are deeply pessimistic about the outcome. At the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement in Adelaide, chief executive Neil Gillespie, father of Australian cricketer Jason Gillespie, said indigenous people remained suspicious that the intervention was a "trojan horse" for the takeover of Aboriginal land.

He said he was "appreciative that the Government is finally doing something" about both child abuse and disadvantage, but he was concerned that none of the recommendations of the Northern Territory's Little Children are Sacred report had been followed. He said he suspected the Government did not have a coherent program to deal with abuse, and questioned why no charges had been laid despite two months of police and military activity.

Nor had the Government made the case for linking child abuse and the five-year compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal land and the abolition of the permit system controlling access to communitues. "What's land got to do with child abuse?" he asked. "Is it to provide access to mining companies? Is it a trojan horse? With the proposed sales of uranium, is uranium waste going to be on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory?"

The president of the Aborigines Advancement League in Melbourne, Alf Bamblett, said the intervention appeared to have reinvigorated old political agendas, including the break-up of the large Aboriginal land councils in the Territory, which had created a belief throughout indigenous Australia that the intervention was a land grab dressed up as concern for children. "I suppose that's politics," he said. "It's a bit dirty, a bit nasty though."

In Sydney, NSW Aboriginal Land Council chairwoman Bev Manton said the intervention was discriminatory, punitive, top-down, ill-conceived and a land grab. The issue of child sexual abuse had been made worse by funding cuts during the Howard years, she said, and Mr Howard had now "kicked the door down on affected communities in the NT to apply a Band-Aid in the dying days of office".

David Reevely at The Ecolibertarian has a look at "Two views of the future", which contains the phrase of the day: "We’ll be able to step off the sinking hull of the oil economy onto the rising iceberg of the green-energy economy".
In quick succession this morning, I read two radically different views of our energy future.

First, Marc Gunther. Thesis: “Buying compact fluorescent light bulbs and hybrid cars won’t do it… I’m ordinarily a fan of incrementalism, and remain one—small steps lead to big changes and all that—but it’s clear that the way we live, work, travel and consume in the U.S., in particular, is unsustainable.” We need major changes and we need them quickly.

He’s mainly talking about greenhouse gases, but certainly about oil supply as well:
First, Americans (and Europeans and others in the developed world, not to mention China) are literally living off our past and our future. The past, because we are rapidly and aggressively exploiting tens of millions of years worth of the sun’s energy that is stored as coal and oil and natural gas. The future, because we are emitting carbon into the air at a rate so dangerous that we are putting the lives of future generations (including our own children) in jeopardy.

Then I read Eamonn Butler of Britain’s Adam Smith Institute. Thesis: “As developing countries like China suck in more and more oil, its price is likely to continue rising. That means those of us who can consume less will be forced to do so. But it also means that new sources will become economic.” We’ll be able to step off the sinking hull of the oil economy onto the rising iceberg of the green-energy economy, in other words.

I gave my head a firm shake and considered. We are in the realm of intuition here, but I think Gunther is closer to the mark.

Whether it’s peak oil or climate change, there are plenty of people who, like Butler, make the argument that prices and/or temperatures will rise so slowly we’ll have plenty of time to adapt and it’s only in retrospect that we’ll notice anything really significant happened. Usually, that claim is meant to oppose apocalyptic forecasts, or at least rhetoric, about the end of the world, which it itself overblown.

What’s at stake, I believe, is not the future of the human race, let alone the planet Earth as a bearer of life, but certainly our prosperity and comfort. Economists agonize over a few tenths of a percentage point of economic growth, and much more than that is at risk if the Earth begins to warm out of control or if we have to cope with an oil price shock that never lets go. That’s how these things seem to come — not as gradual increases, but in spikes that suddenly become the new normal, with a lot of pain along the way.

We have a powerful interest in heading off both those eventualities, and it happens that using less gasoline and other hydrocarbon-based energy serves both ends.

That said, I think Gunther’s underestimating the power of the market to cause people to make such choices by themselves. The low-hanging fruit, as it’s called, is energy-efficiency: we who live in temperate climates can get a long way to where we need to be just by properly insulating our damned buildings, and it’ll only take a few cold winters with higher energy prices to make us do it. Then maybe we talk about redesigning our communities and our supply chains.

The key will be for legislators to avoid the temptation to subsidize dangerous ways of keeping on keeping on — kicking public money into ethanol and liquefied coal are obvious ways they can screw it up. We do need to make some changes, but if we don’t try to hold them off, we shouldn’t find ourselves having to force them, either.

Emily Gertz at WorldChanging has a look at how "Hope, Not Fear, Inspires Change", quoting Dave Roberts from Grist. Especially when the populace has been numbed by all the neoconservative fear-mongering of recent years.
Last year my pal and sometimes-colleague Dave Roberts, editor of Gristmill, wrote a compelling series on fear and environmentalism, firmly and refreshingly grounded in the current realities of American politics: how fear of the terrorist (or more lately, the illegal immigrant) has been used for the past several years to induce Americans to accept an increasingly authoritarian government and the dilution of our civil liberties.

In particular, Dave took on the notion that liberals and progressives need to ape the baser tactics of some conservative sectors by trying to scare Americans into being more environmentally conscientious, because whatever it takes to win is what needs doing...instead of forging an independent path based on values that equate with creating sustainable and just societies: reason, compassion, forebearance, and selflessness.

Dave concluded that "[W]e live in an ascendant cycle of fear, anger, violence, and reprisal. But progressives should not pretend that the cycle is of any use to them, or that its force can be marshaled to more noble ends. We might gain some short-term victories by scaring the crap out of people, but a population in fear will always tend toward authoritarianism and violence."

Today Dave links over to a recent article on political psychology in The New Republic, where author John Judis noted that when people are reminded of their mortality, it can trigger emotions such as "disdain for other races, religions, and nations, to a preference for charismatic over pragmatic leaders, to a heightened attraction to traditional mores."

Dave goes on (and I'll let him have the final word here),
The researchers call this "worldview defense" -- "the range of emotions, from intolerance to religiosity to a preference for law and order, that they believe thoughts of death can trigger."

Environmentalists terrify the populace with stories of oncoming doom, and in the next breath proclaim that the worldview of humankind must change fundamentally, that we need a global spiritual transformation.

The former triggers worldview defense and the latter exacerbates it. If you tell people that all they know is false and corrupt, and that they must leap with you into an entirely new world, you are going to create extremely high barriers. Almost by definition, very few people are going to join you. The rest will find some way to preserve their reality -- by disputing the message, by disdaining those who carry the message, or simply by tuning the whole mess out.

We -- you and I and all human beings -- cling to what we know, what gives our world order and meaning. Threatening that causes us to cling tighter. We fear loss of control, particularly when confronted by the ultimate loss of control: death.

That reaction is fine if your goals are reactionary. If your goals are progressive, it works against you. Progressives must convince people that changes in the direction of justice and sustainability are the logical extension of who they are. They are a fulfillment of our true nature, not a fundamental break with our past. They are: what you have, what you know, only better, moreso.

Progressives must show people a path from here to there, a continuity that can be bridged with hope and confidence. Fear yields neither.

I've been corrected for mis-attributing a quotation I once lifted from Swans ("Trade liberty for safety or money and you'll end up with neither. Liberty, like a grain of salt, easily dissolves. The power of questioning -- not simply believing -- has no friends. Yet liberty depends on it.") which I thought was from Benjamin Franklin but was actually from the Swans publisher / editor Gilles d'Aymery. My apologies - and I'm glad someone is fact checking some of my work...

The article is actually a nice little exposition on the phenomenon of misinformation spreading virally across the internet, with misquotes of famous people being one readily identifiable example (apparently the Einstein quote about humanity disappearing 4 years after the bees do also falls into this category).

Links:

* WorldChanging - Efficiency Measures Could Cut Data Center, Server Energy Use by Half
* WorldChanging - Nothing is Simple, Not Even Biofuels
* The Observer - The end of traffic jams ?
* Dave Roberts - More ammo against climate skeptics - Skeptical Science
* The Age - NT Intervention Part Of Nuclear Plan
* Crikey - Aboriginal kids to be "worked until visibly tired".
* The Economist - The Indian exception. "The deputy sheriff does his bit for America's nuclear deal with India"
* SMH - Dubious Tale Of A Nuclear Bandit
* The Australian - Fallout from uranium price tumble
* The Australian - Drought hits electricity wholesalers. Once again - coal fired power and nuclear power are not compatible with a globally warmed world.
* Reuters - Energy Alberta seeks OK for nuclear power plant. Power for tar sands extraction - nuclear power accelerates global warming.
* Brisbane Times - Flash flooding in SE Qld breaks records
* BBC - Europe counts cost of flood chaos
* Energy Bulletin - Peak Oil Review -- August 27, 2007
* The Independent - Need Iraq Suffer More If We Pull Out?
* Cryptogon - Saudis Set Up 35,000 Strong Force to Guard Oil Infrastructure
* Montreal Gazette - Searing Documentary on War Complicity Indicts not Just US Politicos, but Major Media, too
* Crikey - Welcome, APEC Delegates, To SuperMax Sydney
* Balloon Juice - Welcome To Bedwetter Nation. "It is absurd. You are safe. I am safe. This nation is safe. Quit being such a damned pussy. All of you. "
* Wonkette - Cops Admit Cops Caught Being Fake Protesters Are Cops . "Whenever there's a big political protest, there are cops in disguise — usually as "anarchists" — trying to start sh*t ..."
* Naomi Klein - Big Brother Democracy: The Security State As Infotainment

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