Shouldn't the Economy be Supporting the Ecology?

in politics •  2 months ago 

There's no candy coating it, Australia is in a sorry state, both economically and ecologically. At the time of the 2008 global financial crisis, Australia's economy continued to ride high on its mining industry, because China kept buying their resources. Mining jobs paid fantastic money and there were plenty of them to be had if you had the right qualifications. Unfortunately, nothing lasts and it wasn't long before China stopped buying our steel and the news of layoffs at the mines became all to common. It seems the resilient Australian economy was actually a one trick pony.

In 2017 the automotive production industry, the only other real ace up the economy’s sleeve, pulled out of Australia, taking with it tens of thousands of jobs. The knock on effect is becoming apparent in the retail sector as sales plummet and well known retail outlets close their doors for good.

Over the last couple of years voices for the environment and pressures to switch to renewables and stop pulling fossil fuels out of the ground have been getting bigger. After years of droughts, a crisis for fresh water is looming. In some places it's already hit. Yet the people are fighting the government on more approvals for companies to take water. If you're in Australia you may have heard about Adani, the latest company they're planning to sell water to for their mining operations. Across Australia thousands of fracking wells use huge amounts of local water.

Then recently we hear of some more mismanagement of water in a burning, drought stricken Queensland. In 2016 a safety review of Paradise Dam near Bundaberg found lots of design and construction faults. Three years later, during “the worst drought in living memory,” 105,000 megalitres of dam water was emptied into the sea!


Elsewhere in Queensland a Chinese owned company has been given approval to run a 96 million litre per year water mining operation. The day after, local towns had their water restrictions tightened to 80L per day. On top of all this the fires that have been raging since late spring are putting still more pressure on water supplies as they try to quench those fires.

It is then no real surprise that people are becoming furious with a prime minister, previously treasurer, who is still pushing for coal mining, which seems is mostly being sold to China. So why is he pushing it so much and why did he even get voted in last election when everyone was well aware of his stances back when he was treasurer?

If we look at the fact that if the coal mining sector were also to close down we'd lose another 38,000 jobs, then that might be a clue as to why people continued support him and voted him in. The economy is heading into such a scary state, many just want to know that there are leaders who are trying to keep the economy ticking over. Now before you demonise the economy, consider that it is merely a description of the financial state and economies don't have to be destructive and run on greed. The fact of the matter is, that if the economy had started to branch out years ago towards renewables and sustainables, then we could have much more easily been weaning off the current economy which is now collapsing under its unsustainability.

With Australia literally burning, people are demanding more money be put into much needed firefighting equipment. However, money doesn't come from thin air, which is why an economy is needed to support these things. This economy is hanging by a thread. The welfare system is overwhelmed and support is being cut left, right and centre. If your job only allows you to live from hand to mouth, then when you lose it you’re going struggle to keep your head above water during the new, longer, waiting period to get approved for welfare. No wonder people are worried and ready to support someone who professes a concern for the economy.

As people have less and less money to make choices of where to spend it, voting with their dollar for more sustainable choices plummets in people's priority and the big polluting companies, producing things for cheap, win out again. Without an economy, the environment still continues to pay the price. It seems we can't tackle the environmental problem without also tackling the economical problem and attacking one side as the problem is not going to work out.

So many concerned about the environment are growing their own food and becoming less consumerist, but if we also want better public transport system to take cars off the road then the money has to come from somewhere and if not from a tax paying economy, then where? We probably need to bear in mind that when we make demands of a government they need to find a way to pay for those demands, no matter who is in charge. That goes for Greenpeace too.

It's all well and good to make wishes, but are we also aware of the consequences of having them granted?


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Depends on the type of economy we're talking: Is it an economy based on abundance and growth of real actual wealth for society as a whole? In that case most certainly. Natural systems provide not only a beautiful example of a dynamic interaction and sharing of resources, but they actually create more life, more diversity, more niches, and a wider spectrum of resources for everyone to enjoy. But if the economy is based on scarcity, fostering dependence and control of the masses, then it's in the best interest of the hoarders to destroy what sustains life. There have been numerous examples in history, such as actively destroying the herds of bison to subjugate the native peoples of the North American plains.

I wonder if we will ever evolve past that need for control. It seems our animal instinct to hoard and subjugate others always surfaces.

Australia is being pillaged. Both major political parties are corrupt to the core and are not acting in the publics interest. They play the old game of divide and conquer (identity politics) on the people who (sadly) seem too stupid to realise they're getting played, pitted against each other and screwed over.

It probably doesn't end until we have a major crisis / collapse and we end up with blood in the streets. Even then we are just as likely to end up under totalitarian rule if thugs take control.

We need a genuine (not co-opted) yellow vest type grassroot movement in this country and a move toward direct democracy. That probably has to happen overseas first so we can see how it's done.

Even if it's demonstrated, will it be taken up? Look at Iceland. They did it right after the financial collapse, but nowhere else took the example on.

Iceland might be too small and obscure for populations like ours to notice. They can be safely ignored by the powers that be over here. It probably needs to be done by one of our big allies and/or trading partners before we'll notice.

Australia needs to grow up politically. It has been ever thus - damming rivers, selling off assets, cutting forests, uranium mining, drilling in protected reefs etc. The Australian electorate (collective) is receiving back what it has politically supported for 50 years now. I am mindful of an optimistic Peter Garret when he first joined the Australian Conservation Foundation when I was in my 20s.

The only thing that has changed in Australia is the consequences are becoming more obvious.

A viable political alternative is required, and a FAR MORE educated electorate which will hold its elected representatives to account when mismanagement occurs. I'm hoping for political lobbying, protests and people taking the government to court, rather than endless facebook posts stating "I didn't vote for this".

Appreciating you shining the spotlight on what is needed. Hugs and hoping for more rain, more care and more collective political responsibility a la the successful Franklin Dam protests.

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"I'm hoping for political lobbying, protests and people taking the government to court"

Glad to say this is starting to happen. It takes catastrophes to rile people up enough, though. Hoping it's not too little too late.

When we first arrived in Australia I was gobsmacked at how badly managed the water was, particularly considering how dry the country is. The UK manages theirs better and they get way more rain. They still get low on occasions and have to enforce hosepipe bands. Probably due to the population density. All sewage and storm water gets taken to sewage plants, cleaned and put back into the river systems. When I queried why that wasn't done here, there said that people didn't want to use recycled water. Yet the rivers that the water is taken from are probably just as polluted to start with.

I think EU legislation had a lot to do with the UK cleaning up their waterways, too.

I want to believe you're right about catastrophes, but I'm not sure. Far more people died in Ash Wednesday than the recent fires, and far more homes were lost .... and that was 40 years ago.

It will be interesting to see how the UK's environmental position changes without the EU rules in force anymore.

Hmm, it's a tough one. Were there more deaths because warning systems weren't as good back then or because more has been learnt? Also, we wouldn't have been as aware of how much people have exacerbated the conditions and would likely have just put it down to natural events back then.

Same issue as now in some ways - people waited till the last possible moment to leave and then the wind changed and it was suddenly too late to leave. There WERE plenty of warning, then and now. Back then it was attributed to poor back-burning and firebugs, much the same as now. I remember it like it was yesterday and the smell of gumleaf smoke takes me back instantly.

EVERY Australian rural home within known fire regions should have an underground fire bunker. Really. We talked about it back then. With adequate drinking water and supplies. Lord knows the Americans manage this quite well in hurricane areas and have it sorted.

The fact of the matter is, that if the economy had started to branch out years ago towards renewables and sustainables, then we could have much more easily been weaning off the current economy which is now collapsing under its unsustainability.

Well said.. your whole post. It's fear and belief he will protect and Create jobs that create support for him. Maybe Im naive and I probably am but it just seems so simple to flip things on the head and come up with an alternative plan. Visionary leadership needed. Shared .

Congrats! on your upvotes from the IBT Community

What a thoughtful, earnest, and articulate post @minismallholding. I too am frustrated, demoralized, and so pissed off at the state of our political environment in the US. I believe "we" spend money on what "we" value. I want to find more ways to insist that my country spends money on a healthy environment, so then in turn, we can have healthy people 🌱

Thank you.
It's certainly demoralising and frustrating to feel you have little input or control over things that ultimately affect your life. I guess that's why it's been on my mind of late.

I agree that money should always be put back into maintaining the environment. Foreign companies stealing our water to grow cotton is not on. I wonder what would happen if those cotton fields went up in smoke?
All resources need to be managed properly. It's ridiculous what's going on.

Ideally, I would love to own a house that ran on solar and / or wind power, but money...
And yes, while I like having the cheaper option sometimes (out of necessity) I do like to pay a bit more to keep local businesses afloat.