Climate Change Isn’t The Elephant In The Room… It’s Capitalism

By Loz Lawrey

In the arena of our public debate, various loud quacking voices seem to have recently fallen silent.

Australia’s national firestorm tragedy has driven many of the usual right-wing, Newscorp, coal lobby, anti-science climate change denialists back into their caves.

Stark factual reality has a way of subverting ideology and belief, no matter how strongly we cling to our chosen “views”. It’s hard to argue that climate change is a greenie conspiracy when its impacts are so evident: lives lost, homes destroyed, dreams shattered. Extreme weather events are now occurring on a global scale.

Where are Malcolm Roberts, Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt, Peta Credlin, et al? Where’s that guy who regularly rings ABC Radio talkback regurgitating the dodgy claims of  Rupert Murdoch’s opinionators?

The battlefield of climate change debate is now littered (figuratively) with the bodies of the denialist fallen.

Who shall fight the good fight on behalf of the billionaire class to repel those hordes of scientists, with all their researched facts and evidence, before they take the castle of the plutocrats?

Don’t worry, Gina. Don’t worry, Rupert… you still have Tony Abbott and Craig Kelly, those staunch legionnaires, out there proslytising on your behalf: “Reality be damned!” they cry. “Facts don’t matter, it’s how you interpret them.”

Despite the crisis unfolding across Australia, there they were, slytherin soulmates strutting the world stage, making total galahs of themselves:

Former politician Abbott, still dwelling in the mental labyrinth of denialist delusion, was hard at work, helpfully explaining on Israeli Radio that “Australia is in the grip of a climate cult!”… (Giggle. This from he who is known as the “Mad Monk”, failed priest of the darkest cult on the planet): Tony Abbott, former Australian PM, tells Israeli radio the world is ‘in the grip of a climate cult’.

Meanwhile, backbencher Craig Kelly’s overt rejection of climate science drew scorn, contempt and condemnation from conservative commentator Piers Morgan on Britain’s ITV:

In fact, when it comes to addressing climate change our Prime Minister has drawn great criticism from world leaders globally.

As our national fire crisis unfolds and Australia burns as never before, world leaders look on aghast, openly criticising our inept and possibly criminal government for its lack of response.

It takes a brave idiot to claim “nothing to see here, it’s just another drought and the greenies won’t let us do hazard reduction burns”.

Sadly, in our country idiots have never been in short supply, brainwashed over time by the conservative right, high priests of the cult of greed that is capitalism.

Capitalism. It’s been with us a long time and its legacy of planetary destruction must be confronted before it’s too late.

Look at Australia. In just 200 years we, the foreign invaders of British/European descent, have trashed the place. Our land management practices (or lack thereof?) have left this nation well on the way to becoming, forever, a scorching desert.

This didn’t have to happen. Imagine a scenario where white men came as visitors from abroad, with open minds and hearts and respect for the dark-skinned inhabitants of this great continent, eager to learn and understand their language, their local customs and culture.

After all, who really had historical seniority when Cook’s pale-faced sailors stumbled ashore in Botany Bay in 1770? Britain was only founded in 1536. It was historically and culturally a baby in comparison to Australia’s native population, who, evidence tells us, have occupied this continent for some 50,000 years.

The “western civilisation” we so often hear about from conservatives such as Tony Abbott is nothing more than an unschooled baby compared to Aboriginal civilisation, with its 50,000 years of learning and cultural development.

“Western civilisation” was exported from Europe and Britain. For native Indians in America or Aborigines in Australia, it meant genocide and attempted cultural annihilation imposed, always, by gun violence.

In their arrogance, the European arrivistes saw themselves as superior and “civilised”, the local natives as “savages”. And yet the real savagery came with the gun culture of the invaders.

The British Empire globally was founded on savagery, yet the perpetrators of that savagery always perceive themselves as the champions of “civilisation”.

Of course, with “civilisation” came capitalism.

Capitalism, that greed-driven system of private ownership and profit-driven exploitation of people and resources. The system we’ve been stuck with since the dark days of feudalism.

Capitalism. That free-market economy “winner-takes-all-and-let-the-rest-perish-in-poverty-amidst-the-scorched-remains-of-a-ruined-planet” system so beloved of the rich and the business elites.

Yes, the “top end of town” does actually exist. Driven by greed, they use their wealth and power to perpetuate denialist claims and maintain the status quo that suits their agenda of self-interest.

I’ve been on this planet for nearly seventy years, and since my first visit to a local rubbish tip in Wyong, NSW as a child, capitalism has never seemed “quite right”.

How could a system that requires constant “growth” ever be sustainable in the long term, in a finite world? Surely thinking people have always been aware that we live in a fool’s paradise? Our resources were always bound to run out and despite our refusal to admit it, we’ve always subconsciously known they would, eventually.

Since I looked down, as a young teenager, from the deck of an ocean liner, at the man-made rubbish floating in the ocean, capitalism has always seemed suspect to me.

And yet we were born into this system and it’s all we’ve ever known.

Over the years I’ve watched what can only be called the beast of western imperialist capitalism devour whole sections of humanity through war, politically-driven genocide, poverty and famine.

Distracted as we all are by the need to survive, to provide for our families and loved ones, most of us find little time to consider in depth the broader context of human existence – the world as we make it. We’re all bobbing like corks on the ocean, just trying to stay afloat.

And now we’re also trying to avoid being consumed by fires such as we’ve never experienced before, fires that result directly from anthropogenic (human-induced) climate change.

Climate change, the bastard child of capitalism.

Capitalism, which will never acknowledge or admit to its own destructive impacts upon our environment and our societies.

Capitalism, that abusive system which has only ever truly served the privileged few.

Capitalism, that cult of greed which preferences the worship of money over respect for life itself.

Capitalism, not climate change, is the real elephant in the room.

Now that Australia is ablaze, those of us who, infuriated by the denialism of the greedy, have seen these impacts coming for years, take no pleasure in “I told you so’s”.

We sense a quickening in the public consciousness, an awareness that we may be reaching the awful degree of human suffering necessary for us to finally admit there’s a problem and do something about it.

As always, our media feed us distractions such as more nonsense from Tony Abbott and Craig Kelly. It all feels like yet more reactionary bait-and-switch, a “look over there!” diversion from the real issue.

As long as we keep debating the existence or otherwise of climate change and do nothing in real terms to change our behaviour, our headlong rush towards self-destruction continues apace.

Capitalism has always been detrimental to much of humanity. Yet we’ve tolerated it because it wears the sheep’s clothing of “freedom” or “liberty” and offers the promise of “growth”. It has always painted itself as the “least bad” system available to us.

It’s time to admit that this “least bad” system is, in fact, bloody terrible.

And now we’re facing the final dystopian impacts capitalism always threatened, through human-induced climate change, to deliver.

To those who are now saying “we-need-to-admit-climate-change-is-real-and- have-a-conversation-about-it,” I say no.

We need to address the real problem: capitalism. We need a new system.

We need to change our behaviour and the very way we live.

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