Everything is connected, and everything is changing
By Kate Marvel on December 30, 2019
A state of emergency was declared on November 11, 2019 and residents in the Sydney area were warned of “catastrophic” fire danger as Australia prepared for a fresh wave of deadly bushfires that have ravaged the drought-stricken east of the country.
It rains in the Amazon because the trees want it to. There is plenty of moisture in the oceans that surround the continent, but there is also a hidden reservoir on the land feeding an invisible river that flows upward to the sky. The water held in the soil is lifted up by the bodies of the trees and lost through the surfaces of their leaves to the atmosphere. The local sky plumps with moisture, primed for the arrival of the seasonal rains driven by the annual back-and-forth march of the sun’s rays. As climate scientist Alex Hall puts it, the trees are co-conspiring with the sky to attract an earlier monsoon.
This is the decade we knew we were right. It began with the warmest year on record; it then broke that record at least five times. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached levels unprecedented since humans were hominins. There were droughts and floods and brutal heat waves. Coral reefs turned white and gave up. Australia is in drought. The Amazon is on fire.
Nothing is eternal and nothing is infinite. There were once forests in the Sahara—if not quite the Amazon, still lush and tropical, clustered around the largest freshwater lake on the planet. In geologic time, this was practically yesterday: less than ten thousand years ago. The lake is mostly gone now, vanished in the span of a few hundred years. In its place there is nothing but dust.
The changes now are different. We expected most of them, and they are occurring with a terrifying rapidity that is no more reassuring because it is easily understood. We have known that carbon dioxide traps heat for over a hundred years. We have known that we are changing the planet for decades now. There is no consolation in being right.
The climate always changes. It is dry in the Sahara because the planet wobbled slightly in its orbit, weakening the monsoon rains in the west of Africa. The plants sucked the moisture from the soil; it was not replaced. They died, and no more moisture entered the atmosphere: a vicious cycle of dying and drying that led to the dusty, depopulated desert we know today. This was climate change; it was likely not the fault of humans. But the existence of past climate change does not mean we are not responsible for it this time. There have always been gentle and natural deaths. This does not make murder impossible.
The decade began with lies and ended with evasions. Hackers, probably Russian, stole the emails of a few scientists and offered single sentences, taken wildly out of context, to an eager and credulous media. We heard both sides: the truth, and the not-truth, and were encouraged to draw our own conclusions. The temperature rose; physics was not watching the debate. We learned nothing from the experience.
The winds over the Sahara come from the East, dense, sinking forced sideways as the Earth rotates away underneath it. The dust is carried across the Atlantic, enlarging the beaches of the Caribbean, scattering low-angle sunlight into brilliant purple-orange sunsets, and landing gently on the forests of the Amazon. But the air over the Sahara has arrived from the tropics, rising and shedding its moisture on a journey toward the poles. When it can go no further, it cools and sinks. There are no deserts without the tropics.
Everything is connected. Children were murdered in their schools, and were angry about it. Children saw their futures bargained away for short-term profit, and were angry about it. Children saw the changing world, and were angry about it. The streets swelled with angry children and heartbroken parents, a chorus of hurt that would have echoed through the halls of power had they been able to hear. Nothing was done, and the anger grew louder. This was the decade we saw that history was renewable. We promised to make more of it.
If you want to see the future of the Amazon, you must use physics and assumptions and know that you are almost certainly wrong. All models are wrong, but all climate models strive to be useful, to show a plausible future that may still be avoidable. If the future atmosphere is larded with even more carbon dioxide, the plants of the Amazon will not need to open the pores on their leaves quite so much to take in the gases they need. They will expel less water from these shrunken pores into the atmosphere. The trees will lose their ability to summon the monsoon. There will be fire and drought. Where there was once forest will be only dust.
Here is one thing worth remembering in the dark days of the northern mid-latitude winter. The rainforest is so lush that it cannot fertilize itself. Every nutrient is seized by the greedy vegetation, locked up in the bodies of plants before it can leach into the soil. But the forest is fertilized, given life by the dead lake in the Sahara. There is phosphorus in the lakebed, turned into dust and swept across the Atlantic by the prevailing winds.
From the old comes the new, a fragile phoenix borne upward from the tropics on the rising updrafts of thick convective cloud. The Amazon exists because the Sahara does, the desert is there because the tropics are here. None of this was ever going to stand alone.Scientific American Blog Network @ https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/hot-planet/this-was-the-decade-we-knew-we-were-right/
A global tragedy is unfolding in Tasmania. World heritage forests are burning; 1,000-year-old trees and the hoary peat beneath are reduced to char. Fires have already taken stands of king billy and pencil pine – the last remaining fragments of an ecosystem that once spread across the supercontinent of Gondwana. Pockets of Australia’s only winter deciduous tree, the beloved nothofagus – whose direct kin shade the sides of the South American Andes – are now just a wind change away from eternity. Unlike Australia’s eucalyptus forests, which use fire to regenerate, these plants have not evolved to live within the natural cycle of conflagration and renewal. If burned, they die.
Aerial footage captured by the ABC shows just some of the 42,000 hectares that have been burnt across the state To avoid this fate, they grow high up on the central plateau where it is too wet for the flames to take hold. But a desiccating spring and summer has turned even the wettest rainforest dells and high-altitude bogs into tinder. Last week a huge and uncharacteristically dry electrical storm flashed its way across the state, igniting the land.
Australia is a giant in African mining, but its vast — and in some cases deadly — footprint has never been examined.
Australian-listed mining companies are linked to hundreds of deaths and alleged injustices which wouldn’t be tolerated in better-regulated nations.
The stories that follow are from people across Africa, rarely heard outside their own communities.
via FATAL EXTRACTION.
Open letter regarding the Border Force Act 2015
Today the Border Force Act comes into force. It includes provision for a two-year jail sentence for “entrusted persons” such as ourselves if we continue to speak out about the deplorable state of human rights in immigration detention without the express permission of the minister for immigration and border protection. This strengthens the wall of secrecy which prevents proper public scrutiny.
If we witness child abuse in Australia we are legally obliged to report it to child protection authorities
We have advocated, and will continue to advocate, for the health of those for whom we have a duty of care, despite the threats of imprisonment, because standing by and watching sub-standard and harmful care, child abuse and gross violations of human rights is not ethically justifiable.
If we witness child abuse in Australia we are legally obliged to report it to child protection authorities. If we witness child abuse in detention centres, we can go to prison for attempting to advocate for them effectively. Internal reporting mechanisms such as they are have failed to remove children from detention; a situation that is itself recognised as a form of systematic child abuse.
Evidence of the devastating effects of institutional self-protection and blindness to child abuse has been presented before the current royal commission. We are determined not to collude with a system that repeats these same mistakes.
Why we spoke out: former detention centre workers explain
There are currently many issues which constitute a serious threat to the health of those in detention for whom we have a duty of care. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is aware of these problems and has for years failed to address them adequately.
We are aware that in publishing this letter we may be prosecuted under the Border Force Act and we challenge the department to prosecute so that these issues may be discussed in open court and in the full view of the Australian public.
Detention centre staff speak out in defiance of new asylum secrecy laws
Dr John-Paul Sanggaran, MBBS M.H.Med B.H.Sc, former IHMS medical officer
Dr Richard Kidd, BHB, MBChB, Dip.Obs., FAMA, Deputy Chair AMACGP, former IHMS medical officer
Dr Grant Ferguson, MBBS B.Sc (Hons), former IHMS medical officer
Dr Ben Hew, MBBS B.Sc, former IHMS medical officer
Dr Alison Bleaney, MBchB FRACRRM OBE, former IHMS medical officer
Dr Merrilyn Williams, MBBS, M. (GP Psych) FACRRM, former IHMS medical officer
Dr Ai-Lene Chan, MBBS FRACGP ObsSC MPH&TM, former IHMS medical officer
Dr John Vallentine, MBBS MRCP, former IHMS medical officer
Dr Jill Maxwell, MBBS OAM, former IHMS medical officer
Dr Sally Manuell, MBBS FRACGP, former IHMS medical officer
Prof Bernard Pearn-Rowe, BSc (Hons), MBBS, FAMA, former IHMS medical officer
Tracey Donehue, secondary school teacher
Judith Reen, secondary school coordinator
Jane Willey, former secondary school teacher
Evan Davis, former senior secondary school teacher
Dr Peter Young, MBBS FRANZCP, former IHMS medical director mental health services
Steve Brooker, BSc MA, former IHMS director of mental health services
Dr Rodney Juratowitch, MBBS FRANZCP, former IHMS psychiatrist
Dr Amanda Trenaman, MBBS, FRANZCP, former IHMS psychiatrist
Prof Robert Adler, PhD MBBS, former IHMS psychiatrist
Ryan Essex, BHSc, Grad Dip Psych, BSocSc (Psych), (Hons), MHL, MPH, former IHMS counsellor
James Harris, former case manager and residential youth worker
Toby Gunn, former child and youth recreation officer
Samantha Betts, BA, former child and youth recreation worker
Martin Reusch, former humanitarian worker
Timm Knapp, former humanitarian worker
Amanda Lloyd-Tait, former humanitarian worker
Jennifer Dennis, former humanitarian worker
Amy Marden, former humanitarian worker
Prof David Isaacs, MBBChir MD FRACP FRCPCH, former IHMS paediatrician
Dr Hasantha Gunasekera, MBBS FRACP, former IHMS paediatrician
Alanna Maycock, BN RN, former IHMS paediatric nurse
Prof Louise Newman, MBBS PhD FANZCP AM, former DEHAG consultant IHMS psychiatrist
Dr Micheal Dudley, AM MBBS BD FRANZCP, former DEHAG consultant
Prof Caroline de Costa, PhD MPH MBBS BA FRANZCOG FRCOG, former DEHAG consultant
Viktoria Vibhakar, MSW, LCSW, AASW, former senior child protection and support worker
Ashleigh Millard, former adult case manager and social worker
Jaime O’donovan, former social worker, child protection team
Hamish Tacey, BBehavSc, former unaccompanied minor team leader and refugee assistance program case manager
Serena Hansen, former case manager and residential team leader
Marc Isaacs, BA (Com), BA (Int.S), former recreations manager
…The myth of the Australian dream is that those who play by the rules, who observe the norms of mainstream society, will be treated and respected as members of that society. But this rule is only ever half-enforced when it comes to Indigenous people. They were never meant to be part of the Australian story. What Nicky Winmar knew in 1993 and Adam Goodes knows today is that sporting success is perfectly compatible with inequality and discrimination. The right to participate does not inevitably change the power relationship between (Indigenous) players, (white) fans and Australian society.
Colin Tatz coined the phrase that Indigenous players are ‘Australians when they’re winning and Aborigines at other times.’ Goodes is saying that he is Indigenous when he’s winning and Indigenous no matter what.
ALASTAIR PAULIN, Opinion.
“The story we tell ourselves about Gallipoli is that the Anzac forces fought bravely in terrible conditions, and in doing so, established a reputation of which we should be proud. And so we should. But the other part of the story that is buried under millions of symbolic poppies is that those soldiers fought for nothing. The campaign was abandoned, the surviving soldiers evacuated, and in strategic terms, the deaths of 2779 New Zealanders and more than 8700 Australians, among Allied deaths of 44,000 and 87,000 from the Ottoman Empire, made barely any difference to the war’s outcome…
Reposted from the Guardian:
The vast majority of Australians believe that the constitution should be changed to recognise Indigenous people, and remove clauses that discriminate on the basis of race, a study by the Australian National University found.
The telephone survey of more than 1,200 people aimed to record public opinion on injustice and social disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders.
It found that 82% of Australians supported the removal of clauses in the constitution that discriminate on race.
And 73%, or nearly three out of four Australians believe that Indigenous Australians deserve special reference in the preamble of the founding document.
Tanya Hosch, the campaign director of Recognise, which advocates on the recognition of Indigenous Australians, said that “the strong levels of support from Australians reflect what we have heard in our own extensive community engagement across the country in the past few years.
“Australians want to fix this lack of recognition and want to fix the race discrimination in our highest legal document.”
The prime minister, Tony Abbott, has indicated that he would hold a referendum on the issue in 2017, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders being counted in the census.
“It’s important to get this right. Yes, we want to do it. But we want to get it right and it’s more important to get it right than to rush it,” Abbott told reporters on Friday.
“We’ve got the joint parliamentary committee, chaired by Ken Wyatt, deputy chaired by Nova Peris and that committee will be reporting in the next couple of months and that will give us a strong foundation on which to build.”
Constitutional recognition has strong bipartisan support.
“…I am for growing natural, human, social, manufactured and financial capital and I am against growing global warming, species extinction, poverty, poor health, inequality, conflict and corruption.”
Joint Statement: Muslim Community Rejects Abbott Government’s Demonisation and Condemns Moves to Silence Legitimate Critique
This joint Muslim community statement expresses our position with respect to the Abbott Government’s ongoing demonisation of Muslims in Australia, their organisations, their leaders and their values.
We – the undersigned Sheikhs, advocates, community leaders, community organisations and student bodies of the Muslim community – make the following points in this regard:
THERE will be echoes of 1967 in Parliament House on Wednesday when both sides of politics pass legislation that will give momentum to the push to recognise the first Australians in the nation’s founding document.
Shirley Peisley was 26 when she pinned badges on the lapels of politicians in support of modest but hugely symbolic constitutional change. On Wednesday she will watch as a new indigenous generation does the same in support of something more ambitious.
Back then, Ms Peisley was a woman in awe, inspired by the leadership and example of Lowitja O’Donoghue, who organised her trip from Adelaide to a planning meeting for the 1967 referendum campaign. Like most of the activists, they stayed at Brassey Hotel, then called Brassey Hostel. ”Anyone who had a room – and some of us did – would have swags all over the floor,” Professor O’Donoghue recalls. ”The dining room was full of people who weren’t guests. It was amazing how they put up with us.”
Lowitja O’Donoghue and Shirley Peisley on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares
When they weren’t talking about the struggle or singing We Shall Overcome and other anthems of the American civil rights movement, Professor O’Donoghue recalls some of the activists throwing boomerangs on the vacant land opposite.
This week, the two women are back in the same digs, and hoping that the unity, energy and optimism that abounded almost half a century ago will be replicated – and help transform the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The 1967 referendum resulted in indigenous Australians being counted in the census and gave the national government the power to make laws for their benefit, but only conferred what Noel Pearson described as a ”neutral kind of citizenship”.