Wednesday, 16 July 2008


In recent years the general feeling in Australia has been one to support efforts which protect the environment. Businesses are now including assessments of carbon footprints in their annual reports, because it makes for “green investment” appeal. The push for individuals to use compact flourescent lightbulbs grows stronger.

And yet, the burden of this green sentiment is always thought to be the responsibility of someone else. Someone should make cars use less fuel. Someone should find a way to use alternative energy. Someone should sign the Kyoto protocol and establish carbon trading. Everyone wants a large scale effort to make a change, but it has to begin with someone else.

Furthermore, it must not impact upon individuals. Someone should make cars use less fuel that I can use lots of fuel without guilt. Someone should find a way to use alternative energy that I can use lots of it. Someone should establish carbon trading that I can continue to use up all the carbon I want.

This became evident when, last week, two different nightly news programmes announced that with a carbon trading scheme, the price of petrol could rise to as much as $8 per litre within a few years. Oh the moral panic! Eight dollars! Yes, eight dollars. The general populace wants change, as long as it doesn't cost a lot. And if it does cost a lot, someone else has to pay for it. Humanity is, by and large, a greedy predator that wants what it can get with the least amount of effort, struggle or sacrifice.

Such an approach to life is great if all we want is to be complex and technologically advanced animals. If that's the case, our lives should be about nothing more than sex and food. On the other hand, our lives could be so much more – but it will take more motivation than mere cash.
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