Is the Queen’s funeral a requiem for humanity?

Queen Elizabeth II waits in the drawing room at Balmoral [two days before her death] to receive Liz Truss, the incoming prime minister. Photograph: Reuters (via the Guardian)

The event

Queen Elizabeth’s funeral marks the end of an era.

What era?… And, exactly what have we been celebrating?…

Australia, and indeed, seemingly most the rest of the world has spent the last two weeks mourning the passing of a 97 year old lady on the other side of the globe with a panoply of highly organized pomp and circumstances that I don’t think has been equaled anywhere/anytime on the planet in my lifetime of 83 years. It has clearly been a celebration of the end of an era….

As an evolutionary biologist I tend to take a broader and longer term view of world events than most people. I have spent my life considering the diversity of life and the roles humans play in it (having taught university courses in biogeography and evolutionary biology). Where time is concerned, I have studied the history of life from its origin on Earth more than 4.5 billion years ago, to humanity’s likely path into the future and its impact on the planetary biosphere.

I will argue here that recent funeral is for very much more than just the end of the life of a respected old lady. For most of us we are celebrating the life of Britain’s longest reigning monarch (and the second longest reigning monarch anywhere in the world). As far as monarchs go, Elizabeth was undoubtedly exemplary. For 75 years she provided the ceremonial focus for an endless list of Commonwealth, British, regional and even local events and milestones — and truly ‘died with her boots on’ in the service of the state, appointing and welcoming her 15the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom only two days before her death.

Beyond this, QE2 reigned over the waning days of the of the island nation that had given birth to the Industrial Revolution and for a century or so had dominated the entire planet. Thanks to the debilitation caused by World Wars and the recent disconnection from the broader world leading to Brexit, there is even increasing pressure in the minor kingdoms of the UK (e.g., Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales) to disunite from England. And then there is the Commonwealth, where a number of its nations are progressively distancing themselves from the monarchy.

The extent of the Funeral, is at least partially a funeral for the lost grandeur of an Empire that is diminishing like a leaking and shrinking balloon.

Unprecedented logistics and costs

However, personally, I could not but ponder the monumental cost of planning, organizing, and organizing the logistics for the two week long event. Around 500 of the heads of state, royal families and other international notables, together with thousands of British notables, will be catered for (and guarded) at the main events. And then there are the hundreds of thousands over several days willing to queue for up to 24 hours just to pass by the Coffin to pay their respects. Beyond this there are the uncountable numbers of people filling public spaces just to watch the funeral procession pass by.

The hearse carrying the coffin of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is escorted along the Long Walk towards Windsor castle in the funeral procession, on the day of the state funeral and burial, in Windsor, Britain, Sept. 19, 2022. Paul Childs/Reuters via ABC News
Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle, in Sussex.HippoPx / CC (Via British Heritage Travel)

And then there is the phenomenal cost of all the perishable ceremonial gear. For example, several hundred to more than a thousand bearskin hats were worn by the ceremonial guards. The skin of a single Canadian black bear, costing around £750, is required for each hat, with no hint being provided re the cost of turning the skin into a hat, and then the cost of clothing and training the troops for their essentially absurd ceremonial duties.

Consider the Crown Jewels (most are crystallized carbon) being displayed for the Funeral…

Of course, the value of these trappings and the ceremony is still trivial compared to that of the fraction of the Crown Jewels used in the Coronation Regalia: the Imperial State Crown, the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross, and the Sovereign’s Orb. These were placed on Elizabeth’s coffin for the Funeral to represent the ‘Crown’s’ once immense wealth and worldly power. For more details see Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.


Coronation portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, 2 June 1953. The Queen wears the Imperial State Crown, 1937 and holds the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross, 1661 and Sovereign’s Orb, 1661. Photo by Cecil Beaton, © Victoria & Albert Museum, London. (historicroyalpalaces.picturepark.com) via Tower of London.



Imperial State Crown of the United Kingdom. Source
G. Younghusband; C. Davenport (1919). The Crown Jewels of England. London: Cassell & Co. p. 6.) Photograph: Cyril Davenport (1848 – 1941). Retouched by Firebrace to incorporate 1937 modifications for George VI’s coronation.

The Imperial State Crown has never been formally appraised, but on its own it is estimated to have a value of £1-5 BILLION ! The jewels consist of:

  • 2,868 diamonds, including the the 317.4 carat Cullinan II diamond (third largest cut white diamond in the world)
  • 269 pearls, including four large hanging pearls that belonged to Queen Elizabeth I
  • 17 sapphires
  • 11 emeralds
  • four rubies


The Soverign’s Sceptre with Cross 1661, set with Cullinan I diamond. At 530.2 carets it is the largest colorless cut diamond in the world. Image: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2022
The sceptre represents the sovereign’s temporal power and is associated with good governance. During the coronation service the new sovereign is first anointed with holy oil, then robed in coronation robes, and then invested with a number of ornaments symbolising the chivalric nature of kingship. These include the spurs, swords and armills, followed by the orb, a ring and then the sceptres. The sovereign is presented with two sceptres – this one surmounted by a cross and another surmounted by a dove (which represents the Holy Ghost). After the investiture, the sovereign is then crowned. © The Royal Trust.
https://luxurycolumnist.com/most-expensive-diamonds-in-the-world/

The Orb is a representation of the sovereign’s power, symbolising the Christian world, with its cross mounted on a globe, and the bands of jewels dividing it up into three section representing the three continents known in medieval times. During the coronation service the new sovereign is first anointed with holy oil, then robed in coronation robes, and then invested with a number of ornaments symbolising the chivalric nature of kingship. These include the spurs, swords and armills and then the Sovereign’s Orb, which is placed in the right hand of the monarch, before being placed on the altar.
The Sovereign’s Orb is formed from a hollow gold sphere, mounted with a zone and arc with clusters of emeralds, rubies and sapphires, surrounded by rose-cut diamonds, each in a champleve enamel mount, between single rows of pearls….
© The Royal Trust.

To me, the display of the Coronation Regalia on the coffin and the surrounding pomp and antique tradition as the Queen’s remains progressed from Westminster Abby to their place of internment in Windsor Castle look back to the past majesty of the British Imperial power that no longer exists — a power that enabled the Industrial Revolution ad consequently dominated and exploited more of Earth’s human and natural resources than any other nation has ever done.

Thus, we have spent the last two weeks commemorating a now passed world when humans (especially Anglophones) were taught and believed that they had a divine right to planetary dominion — and acted on that premise. We are now living with the consequences of that dominating world view.

Requiem for a once green and vibrant planet and a species that believed it had dominion over it

For nearly two weeks the only thing in our daily news (to the exclusion of almost anything else (except football finals) related to the Queen’s death, her funeral. her life and times, and her heirs. Clearly this was the only thing people needed to know and think about.

This is despite the well documented fact that our green Earth is progressing at an accelerating rate down the slippery slope of runaway global warming into a ‘hothouse’ state and the mass extinction of most complex life.

Personally, the fact that the inevitable death of a very old lady totally stops the news (and most action) on our biosphere’s progression towards mass death (including the likely end of our own species — probably within a century (which was, incidentally, the Queen’s lifespan) gives me little confidence that humans will act sufficiently stop our own progress towards oblivion. Thus, I could not help but see the funeral as a celebration of the accelerating decline and impending end of our past 3+ billion years of evolving life.

Very few large, long lived, and complex species of organisms will be able to adapt fast enough to cope with 10+ °C increases in average temperatures. They will either be killed directly as their genetically determined temperature maxima are exceeded, or will die-out as the ecosystems supporting them collapses through the death and extinction of keystone or foundation species providing ecological services other species require at some point in their individual life-cycles (corals and kelp are keystone species showing what happens when they die out).

I wonder how much progress towards stopping the progress of global warming would have been made if the same organizational and logistic effort spent on organizing and putting on the Funeral had been spent focusing on climate action to say nothing of what might be achieved by devoting Royalty’s immense wealth represented by their holdings in carbon crystals to developing practical methods for removing excess carbon from the atmosphere.

In a sense, the time and resources spent on the Funeral is delaying and possibly reducing the magnitude of responses that might effectively stop global warming in the short time remaining (assuming that it is still possible to stop).

Look Up! Don’t be distracted by pomp and circumstances

greta-act-as-if-the-house-was-on-fire
Listen to Greta’s speech live at the World Economic forum in Davos 2019. Except for her reliance on the IPCC’s overoptimistic emissions budget, everything she says is spot on that even she, as a child, can understand the alternatives and what has to happen.

In other words, Wake up! Smell the smoke! Look around and see the grimly frightful reality. Fight the fire that is burning up our only planet so we can give our offspring a hopeful future. This is the only issue that matters. Even the IPCC’s hyperconservative Sixth Assessment Report that looks at climate change’s global and regional impacts on ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities makes it clear we are headed for an existential climate catastrophe if we don’t stop the warming process.

In Greta’s words, “even a small child can understand [this]”. People hope for their children’s futures. She doesn’t want your hopium. She wants you to rationally panic enough to wake up, pay attention to reality, and fight the fire…. so our offspring can have some hope for their future.

Because the climate emergency is such a major problem, there is no hope of surviving it without having government resources, leadership and intergovernmental cooperation. The fossil fuel magnates are still working very effectively to stop action that might be immediately harmful to their special interests (long term survival is beyond the range of their radars). They still buy the allegiances of the major parties to look out for their interests. For this reason your votes in national, state and local elections are still your most powerful tools for generating effective climate action.

Victorian voters: See VoteClimateOne’s Voting Guides for your electorates. The Victorian Guides will be posted on-line as soon as the Victorian Electoral Commission posts the final candidate lists. Our Victorian Guides will work much like our Federal Election Guides that provided how-to-vote information and more for each of the 151 federal electorates and the Senate. Assuming we can get some help from NSW groups, we’ll also produce information for the NSW State Election next year.


Featured Image: King Charles III follows behind the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II as it is carried out of Westminster Abbey. The hours-long ceremony reminded viewers of the power of silence. (WPA Pool / Getty Images) / via the LA Times (read the article)

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Victorian Election Reminder – Vote Climate One

The UN’s World Meteorological Organization warns us that we have done nothing to slow the global warming caused by our carbon emissions.

Message from the UN’s Secretary-General in the article

Geneva, 13 September 2022 (WMO) – Climate science is clear: we are heading in the wrong direction, according to a new multi-agency report coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which highlights the huge gap between aspirations and reality. Without much more ambitious action, the physical and socioeconomic impacts of climate change will be increasingly devastating, it warns.

The report, United in Science, shows that greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise to record highs. Fossil fuel emission rates are now above pre-pandemic levels after a temporary drop due to lockdowns. The ambition of emissions reduction pledges for 2030 needs to be seven times higher to be in line with the 1.5 °C goal of the Paris Agreement….

Read the complete article….

If you are concerned about this visibly escalating climate emergency, but think there is nothing you can do about it, think again!

Major political parties primarily represent the vested interests who fund their candidates and election campaigns and work hard to protect their patrons. Many of these include rich fossil fuel and related industries (many based overseas) who would be harmed by climate action. As single individuals, we have been powerless to change the world against the political might of the ‘patrons’ and their government puppets…. But where your local communities and governments can coordinate together with a common goal to elect governments responsive to their citizens, we CAN change the world.

This has been demonstrated by the amazing exponential growth in the number of ‘community independent’ MPs working in our Federal Parliament since 2013: 1 house seat in 2013, 2 seats in 2016, 3 in 2019, and 10 + David Pocock in the Senate, following on from this year’s federal election that decimated the Liberal Party, giving a House majority to the Labor Party (a “Teal Tsunami).

However, even with Greens support, Labor is still one short of a majority in the Senate. This gives Pocock, a community independent, the deciding vote. As an immigrant rugby player from New Zealand, arguably he has become the most important senator in the Australian Parliament where climate action and integrity are concerned — selected, supported and endorsed by the Climate Change the local ACT community independently from the discipline of any political party.

Let David tell you in his own words:

ABC Australian Story, 13 Sept 2022
In the Australian Senate – 2 Aug 2022

As demonstrated, Labor’s climate climate change bill passed last week (8 Sept) with David Pocock’s ‘teal’ vote.


If you and your local community are unhappy with the way your sitting state or federal parliamentarians are representing your interests, the teal community independents can show you how to empower your communities to change that.

Work with your friends and neighbors to decide what you want from your representative(s) in government, select someone from your community to stand for election, support their campaign, and then vote them into office. My research as Editor of Climate Sentinel News, documents in detail how this works, and introduces the fabulous support network that the the successful teal community independents have developed to help empower other communities to become independent of the special interests supporting major party candidates:

Transforming Australia’s Parliament to act on climate (12 Sept 2022)

A rising tsunami of teal independents is transforming our democracy representing special interests to a participatory democracy of community representatives.

As noted in my many posts to Climate Sentinel News, it is becoming increasingly evident that humanity on our only planet faces near term extinction if we don’t manage to stop and reverse the global warming process we have started through our profligate burning of fossil fuels. Their emissions are preventing the Earth from radiating away excess solar energy. This imbalance between incoming and outgoing heat energy causes the world to grow warmer. Unfortunately the problem is global and can only be solved on a global scale through the cooperation of governments – which makes it unavoidably political.

The difficulty of solution is only compounded by the fact that the unimaginably rich global fossil fuel industry has been fighting for decades to disrupt and stop effective actions against global warming/climate change to protect their sources of income from the burning of fossil fuels causing the emissions. Even the supposedly most ‘democratic’ governments have been corrupted so they represent the patrons and special interests (mostly fossil fuel industry related) who support and fund major political parties. This influence is so strong that I have been deeply pessimistic that our governments would ever be able to work effectively to combat climate change and stop our progress along the runaway warming road to extinction.

However, the results of Australia’s May 21 Federal Election provide evidence that Australia has begun to transform its government into one truly representing the substantial majority of voters who want action on climate change to be prioritized above any other issue. Finally there is scope for some genuine optimism that our government(s) will actually work seriously to resolve the climate issues….

Read the complete article and see the embedded presentation…. or download the presentation directly: “The Teal Tsunami started in Indi

Our changes to Earth’s atmosphere are driving us down the slippery road to mass extinction in ‘Hothouse Earth

The featured image heading this post and the video below show the most recent and best documented evidence that nothing humans have done to date has significantly slowed the accelerating rise in global temperatures driving by rising greenhouse gas concentrations from or directly triggered by human activities. If nothing is actively done on a global scale to stop and reverse these increases, it is inevitable that within a few more decades that our planet will have become uninhabitable to humans and the other living resources we need for our survival.

The graphs above and the video here are pretty clear. Objective measures of our planetary atmosphere show that we have done nothing yet in the world that is changing this prediction.

The video from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Global Monitoring Laboratory shows the historical fluctuations in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere we breathe over the last 800,000 years. It begins in 1979 when detailed daily tracking of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations began in a serious way across the globe using both physical sampling and measurements combined with satellite remote sensing. The inset map shows sampling locations, the fluctuating line plots CO2 concentrations by distance of the location south or north of the Equator and the graph shows annual fluctuations and the year-by-year rise in the average concentration for the year up through 2021.

When the present is reached, the x-axis of the graph is extended backwards in time from 1979 using a variety of measurement tools, mostly the CO2 concentration in bubbles of atmospheric gas trapped in bubbles of gas frozen into glacial ice from Antarctica. (The modern and ice-core measurements overlapped for long enough to demonstrate that the different sampling technologies were giving the same results.)

Until now I have been quite pessimistic that adequate action would ever be taken to reverse the trends shown on these graphs as our governments will continue greasing the downhill slide into the death and chaos of global mass extinction.

Community independents and Greens know how to change that, and have shown that they actually have the knowledge and ability to cancel remove the power of major political parties to block effective action.


Action is required! Simply voting for a Party may not ensure our survival (or may even speed our demise). Learn how to Vote Climate One!

I am now decidedly optimistic that humans have the knowledge and power to stop the ultimately lethal processes we have accidentally triggered in our profligate burning of Earth’s carbon resources. All it takes is a willingness for communities to be come fully involved in their own interests in avoiding the extinction of their families and heritage.

If you don’t think a major party you have voted for in the past truly represents your interests (rather than those of their immensely wealthy patrons — who may not even be Australian), Vote Climate One will show you how to maximize the chances that your vote will help to elect someone who will actually represent your community interests. See our Vote Climate One page on Voting Guides. At the moment this reflects the past Federal Election, but it will give the idea of the kind of analysis and information we will provide for the Victorian state election in November. The Victorian State Election guide will not be finalized before Sunday Nov.13th when the Victorian Electoral Commission releases the final list of candidates for each electorate. Prepolling starts on Monday Nov. 14th. We should have draft versions of the Victorian guides on-line around the beginning of November.

If you want to maximize the chances that your vote will actually count towards electing a government that will prioritize acting on climate first, we’ll do the work to make it easy for you to vote effectively.


greta-act-as-if-the-house-was-on-fire
Listen to Greta’s speech live at the World Economic forum in Davos 2019. Except for her reliance on the IPCC’s overoptimistic emissions budget, everything she says is spot on that even she, as a child, can understand the alternatives and what has to happen.

In other words, before you cast your ballot: Wake up! Smell the smoke! See the grimly frightful reality; and fight the fire that is burning up our only planet so we can give our offspring a hopeful future. This is the only issue that matters. Even the IPCC’s hyperconservative Sixth Assessment Report that looks at climate change’s global and regional impacts on ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities makes it clear we are headed for an existential climate catastrophe if we don’t stop the warming process. To do this our governments must accept the reality, and work effectively to plan and coordinate the necessary mobilization and action. YOUR VOTE IN THE VICTORIAN ELECTION CAN HELP ENSURE THAT THIS HAPPENS: Vote Climate One in November!


Featured Image: Temperature data – Berkeley Earth; CO2 data – NOAA Global Monitoring Lab Trends in CO2; Trends in CH4; Trends in N2O

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Why is the Queen’s death more newsworthy than the rapidly approaching death of our own species?

An editorial in today’s Guardian Opinion, asks this question — without finding a sensible answer. I ask, “Is this another case of Don’t Look Up?”

By Euan Ritchie, 16/09/2022 in the Guardian

Why did the Queen’s death receive saturation media coverage while the future of the Earth goes largely ignored?

Just one day after the Queen’s death, another deeply sobering study related to the dangers of exceeding 1.5C of global warming was published.

The death of Queen Elizabeth II continues to reverberate globally. The ensuing media frenzy, rabid and ravenous at times, has been quite something to behold. I cannot think of another event or issue that’s received even remotely a similar amount of attention in recent times.

I am not here to argue about the merit and contributions of the Queen and the royal family though, nor a long overdue transition to an Australian republic, or the far too often overlooked, disregarded and darker history and confronting issues, including maintenance of power structures and the ongoing damage and ravages of state-sanctioned colonialism. That is not my place nor area of expertise, and I genuinely want to extend my sincere condolences to all who are saddened and suffering, whatever their reason, and whatever cultural background, political and personal persuasion they may have.

Read the complete article…..

The questions facing us are:

  1. Are we going to wallow in the wall-to-wall 24 hour media coverage surrounding the death of a monarch on the other side of our planet?

    This death of an old lady will likely have no more direct impact on us in Australia and our families and children than that the coins in our pockets will eventually have the head of a king facing left instead of the head of a queen facing right, and that we will replace “queen” with “king” in a few mantras, slogans and patriotic songs.

    Or,
  2. Are we going pay attention to the reality surrounding us; accept that we, our families, and our species are facing existential dangers from the ever worsening climate emergency accidentally started by the Industrial Revolution’s profligate burning of fossil fuels; and do something about it?

    If we fail to act strongly enough and soon enough to stop and reverse the process, we condemn all of our species and its heritage to potential future generations to almost certain death in Earth’s Hothouse Hell that it is currently warming towards.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Transforming Australia’s Parliament to act on climate

A rising tsunami of teal independents is transforming our democracy representing special interests to a participatory democracy of community representatives

As noted in my many posts to Climate Sentinel News, it is becoming increasingly evident that humanity on our only planet faces near term extinction if we don’t manage to stop and reverse the global warming process we have started through our profligate burning of fossil fuels. Their emissions are preventing the Earth from radiating away excess solar energy. This imbalance between incoming and outgoing heat energy causes the world to grow warmer. Unfortunately the problem is global and can only be solved on a global scale through the cooperation of governments – which makes it unavoidably political.

The difficulty of solution is only compounded by the fact that the unimaginably rich global fossil fuel industry has been fighting for decades to disrupt and stop effective actions against global warming/climate change to protect their sources of income from the burning of fossil fuels causing the emissions. Even the supposedly most ‘democratic’ governments have been corrupted so they represent the patrons and special interests (mostly fossil fuel industry related) who support and fund major political parties. This influence is so strong that I have been deeply pessimistic that our governments would ever be able to work effectively to combat climate change and stop our progress along the runaway warming road to extinction.

However, the results of Australia’s May 21 Federal Election provide evidence that Australia has begun to transform its government into one truly representing the substantial majority of voters who want action on climate change to be prioritized above any other issue. Finally there is scope for some genuine optimism that our government(s) will actually work seriously to resolve the climate issues.

I explain my reasons for optimism in the presentation I’m launching here, “The Teal Tsunami started in Indi“, as a place holder for Part 2 of my intended 4 part series, “Emergence and proliferation of pro-climate community voices“; and what I hope is an approachable summary of the whole ‘Teal Tsunami’ project the explores the transformation..

As suggested by this post’s featured image above, the presentation explores why the “Voice for Indi” community action group emerged in the Victorian federal electorate of Indi, and how it proceeded in the 2013 election to amaze everyone by replacing the hard line Liberal Party incumbent, Sophie Mirabella, with a climate friendly ‘community independent’, Cathy McGowan.

McGowan’s 2013 win was even more amazing considering that Mirabella had held the ‘safe’ Liberal seat since 2001 (4 terms).

In the presentation I observe that Cathy’s win in Indi represents the epicenter that triggered the spreading and growing ripples of political change I am calling the Teal Tsunami that are in the process of fundamentally transforming the nature of Australian democracy.

In addition to summarizing the facts of what happened in Indi, I also try to present an approachable summary of the four part Teal Tsunami project:

  • Part 1 – The rising tide of the teal tsunami
    Documents the rise of community independent seats in this century.
  • Part 2 – It started in Indi (published here)
    Details the roles of different kinds of knowledge in the emergence of the Voice for Indi community action group and its role in the election of their selected and endorsed candidate, Cathy McGowan
  • Part 3 – The transforming crescendo of Teal Voices spreads
    Follows the spread and evolution of the knowledge base assembled by Voice for Indi through subsequent elections
  • Part 4 – Theoretical foundations for the analysis
    Analyzes the Teal Tsunami against the theory of complex adaptive organizational systems developed by William Hall and Susu Nousala to test the theory and make some predictions about the future evolution of the tsunami

About the Presentation

How to get the most out of it

The presentation is published as an hypertext in PDF format. It was drafted using MS PowerPoint and converted to Adobe’s PDF format that preserved all of the internal and external linking capabilities used in the original draft. Scrolling up or down to read the document.

For readers unfamiliar with the hypertext concept, some instructions about how to use the links in the documenet may be useful:

  1. The document has a basically linear structure of numbered pages containing text and/or graphics.
  2. Links in the text are underlined.
    • Sometimes graphical objects also serve as links (these will generally be identified in the text)
  3. Moving the arrow cursor to either kind of these links will turn the cursor into a pointing finger and display the name of the link.
  4. Clicking the link will take you to another document – generally on the open web – that relates to the text whose link you clicked. How you return to the main document depends on the destination of the link.
    • For a page on the web, close that page
    • For a PDF document on the web, close the document, then close by blank web page that opened the document
  5. The numbered objects in the image on page 23 (Knowledge flows in the founding and early success of Voice 4 Indi) in the hypertext are linked to other pages that provide more detail on the object. To return to page 23, hold the [ALT] key on your keyboard and click [<]

Some background

I’m a population and evolutionary biologist by training, and worked for the last 17½ years of my professional career as an engineering knowledge management systems analyst and designer for Tenix Defence that was for part of the time Australia’s larges defence engineering contractor, as I solved its real-world problems in knowledge management, together with a trio of remarkable PhD students and other collaborators, I began studying how it worked as a complex living system and assembling this knowledge into a theoretical understanding of knowledge-based organizational systems (publications of this work are accessible via my personal web site Evolutionary Biology of Species and Organizations – see List of Publications and Essays and Sketches.

On ‘retiring’ in 2007 I began working full-time on a study of the coevolution of humans and our technologies I summarized in a series of presentations in 2015 under the title “Human Origins, Cognitive Technologies, and Futures“. The book itself was never finished because its chilling conclusion was that no-one would be left to read the book because the damages to Earth’s climate caused by our new technologies would soon doom us to near-term mass extinction.

From around 2015 it was clear that effective political action would be needed if we were to have any hope of solving the climate emergency, and I explored several approaches. In the 1980’s when my Australian wife and I returned to Australia, she worked several years for the Liberal Party’s Victorian Secretariat including being a member of one of the Party’s policy committees and we took part in a variety of Party activities as the Fraser and Hamer governments gave way to their ‘drier’ right-wing extremists. Both of us worked for Tenix from 1990 and were far too busy for politics.

However, in 2015 when the Liberal Party was clearly the problem I joined the Greens and my wife joined the Labor Party as active members hoping to change things. Where our local branches were concerned we were both welcomed to participate in both branches, where it became clear for their various reasons that neither was going to be able to act effectively against climate change. Together with several progressive friends we then tried to establish a local Extinction Rebellion group to push for climate action until it became clear that the organization lacked the know-how for making the required political changes. Several of us (along with others) then formed Vote Climate One to see if we could facilitate electing the right people to change the existing parties from within towards effective climate action.

In following and reading the ‘news’ for our Climate Sentinel News it has become apparent that Voice for Indi has assembled and is actively propagating the necessary know-how to revolutionize our political system so that members of our local communities concerned to fight climate change are able to transform our Parliament from a ‘democracy’ of the special interests to one in which community members can actually participate in the democracy so it represents their needs and wants rather than the special interests, many of whom are not even people or citizens of the country.

Voices for Indi is already broadcasting its know-how via the Community Independents Project, but this needs to be advertised even more widely to all of Australia and the world, as I am hoping to do via this publication.

Any help my readers can offer to further circulate the work will be greatly appreciated. I am also open to any comments or suggestions readers may wish to make via this post, or other avenues.

The featured image is of Slide 23 from my presentation “The Teal Tsunami started in Indi”, introduced by this post. The diagram is a map of the flows of knowledge surrounding the emergence of Voice for Indi. This small community action group comprising 12 people determined what the citizens of the electoral district of Indi wanted from its MP in Federal Parliament. When the Voice determined that their sitting member wasn’t concerned to achieve these results, they selected, campaigned for, and elected their own candidate — replacing the 4 term incumbent candidate from the dominant Liberal Party in one of the ‘safest’ Liberal seats in the country. The map is used to explain how this was done.

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Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Emergence and proliferation of pro-climate community voices: Part 1 – The rising tide of the teal tsunami

Introduction

The results of the 21 May 2022 federal election looks like the beginning of a fundamental revolution in the way politics is done in Australia. Not only has our Parliament shifted from close to a decade of domination by the conservative and reactionary Liberal and National Party Coalition to a more progressive Labor government, but the whole nature of Parliament may be changing. What has been a ‘representative’ democracy dominated by political parties primarily representing the parties’ donors and special interests, may be shifting towards a ‘participatory’ democracy based on independent parliamentarians selected by local communities, and who negotiate with, are endorsed by, and actively represent those communities. Most of the new ‘community independents’ are economically conservative like liberals (generally designated by blue), but more like the Greens in their humanitarian and environmental interests. Hence their designaton as ‘teals’.

In a series of posts I will explore the genesis of the revolution I am calling the ‘Teal Tsunami’: considering the historical circumstances of its origins; the sources, nature, and evolution of the knowledge accounting for the successful election of their candidates; and a theoretical framework for understanding the underlying dynamics of knowledge-based community action groups.

The historical extent of this tsunami so far is illustrated in the following two images showing time lines of particular lower house electorates.

Fig. 1. Early emergence of Community Representation. Pale blue is the term in office of a Coalition MP. Dark blue is the member’s term as Prime Minister. Teal is a climate friendly independent. Light red is a Labor MP’s term in office. Dark red is the Labor Member’s term as Prime Minister. Pink is the term of Julia Gillard’s miinority government.
Fig. 2. First major wave of the growing tsunami of community led government. All teal incumbents held their seats in the 2022 Federal election; while their number more than doubled by teals defeating key Liberals. Beyond this another independent (Dai Le in Fowler), and three Greens won additional House Liberal seats in metro Brisbane to the returned Green, Adam Bandt from Melbourne, Finally, Greens gained an additional Senate seat (in the ACT) to the ones they already held.

The first major wave (Fig. 2) of the rising tide of the tsunami in the 2022 election just passed removed a significant fraction of then then present and future leadership of the Liberal Party from what had been some of the previously ‘safest’ seats in the Liberal heartland. As I will argue and demonstrate in the series, this success is fueled by a shared body of knowledge developed, tested, and proven by the first generation of teals Cathy McGowan, Helen Haines, Allegra Spender, and even earlier prototypical community independents, Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott, and Andrew Wilkie (Figs. 1 & 2). (Note: the roles of shared knowledge and election funding facilitating this result will be detailed in subsequent Parts of this review)

The following Google Sheet details all the teal candidates (elected and otherwise) who ran for the 2022 election and whose campaign funding was assisted by seed and matching funds from the Climate200 organization. All the elected candidates are shaded in teal blue.

Fig. 3. Teal Candidates in the 21 May Election for the Australian Parliament. (Click this link to download a the full legible Google Sheet presenting the data.)

NOTES

  1. Result and Quota counts are final as at 01/07/2022.
  2. Column B links to Wikipedia or Linkedin entries for the person concerned. Where no link is provided, basic biographical info is derived from other sources.
  3. Column C links to the last archived version before the 21 May election of Climate200‘s website (see the Internet Archive’s WayBack Machine). The pre-election material was removed soon after the election.
  4. Column D links to the ‘voices for …’ site nominating or supporting the named candidate. In some cases no voices organization was operating in the electorate. In a few, there was more than one.Column I summarizes the voting. For all seats, bold face is used for the candidate(s) elected, and italic type designates the teal independent.
  5. Column I summarizes the voting. For all seats, bold face is used for the candidate(s) elected, and italic type designates the teal independent.

Almost all the teals, whether elected or not, are remarkable women.

That this Teal Revolution is well and truly under way is shown by the fact that the number of climate friendly community independents sitting in Parliament more than doubled in this year’s election at the expense of the Coalition who had controlled government for some 9 years. The teal’s result combined with Labor’s win against the Liberals was a clear signal that voters generally wanted a change to move the pendulum enough to flip many marginal seats. Even given the general swing, the teals decimated leaders’ heartland seats that Labor could never have touched (and turned several more of the seats from safe to marginal).

Where the lower house of Parliament is concerned, Labor won two more seats than the required 75 to form government in its own right, while losing some votes overall (-0.7%). The Coalition was cut by 19 from 77 seats (a majority) to 58 by Liberal losses to Labor, Greens and independents. Only 4 of the remaining Liberal seats were won on first preferences (Barker, Cook – Morrison’s seat, Farrar, and Mitchel; Nationals won 2 seats by first preferences; and QLD LNP won 1. Essentially, the entire Liberal Party is now ‘marginal’. Also, with the elimination of most ‘moderate’ Liberals, Peter Dutton, probably the most hated Liberal still in Parliament, emerged as Leader of the gravely wounded Opposition. This has interesting implications for the next election! By contrast, Labor managed to win 8 seats on first preferences.

The “Cross Bench” more than doubled. The Greens only increased their total national vote by 1.6% but gained 3 new seats in Queensland’s heartland, for a total of 4. Ten of the independent candidates who were elected were assisted by Climate 200 and have promised to prioritize climate action are classified here as ‘teals’ (socially progressive but economically conservative, designated by italicized names). Six “independents” were reelected: Katter, Lambie, Wilkie, Sharkie, Steggal, Haines  (4 teals are italicized) – Seven independents were newly elected:  Li, Scamps, Tink, Spender, Daniel, Ryan, Chaney (6 are teals). Three more teals (Alex Dyson – WANNON Vic, Caz Heise – COWPER NSW, and Nicolette Boele – BRADFIELD NSW) finished second on first preferences where incumbents failed to gain a majority. Excepting Andrew Wilkie, an ex-intelligence officer reelected for the 5th time, all teals are mothers – several from  health professions,  a majority have postgraduate qualifications in their professions and are CEO’s, Directors, or Managers of significant enterprises. Mothers would be used to unruly children & cleaning toilets ! – (Labor’s Dr Anne Ali has similar qualities: PhD, Professor at Edith Cowan Uni, researching radicalization, violent extremism and counter terrorism. / mother of 2).

Figure 4. Teal Candidates and their teams celebrating election wins in Sydney’s Liberal Party heartland. Still captured from the celebration video (click the picture and scroll down to see it) prepared for the Community Independents’ Project Conference, 5-7 August 2022. See also my article Teal First Speeches in Parliament in Climate Sentinel News and Celebrating doing democracy differently by Millie Rooney in Australia Remade.

The present article focuses on events leading up to the 2013 Australian Federal Election, especially as it culminated in the emergence of the Voice 4 Indi community action group and their selection, endorsement, and election of one of their founding members, Cathy McGowan in NW Victorian electorate of Indi, one of the safest rural Liberal Party electorates in Australia. As will be detailed in Part 2, Cathy was reelected for two terms, and successfully passed on the community independent baton, to Helen Haines, who was also returned for a second term in this year’s election.

In many ways, McGowan was the prototypical teal. She and the evolving Voice 4 Indi group passed on their successfully tested and re-tested working knowledge to support most of the subsequently established “Voices for ..” community action groups. The body of practical knowledge covers how to involve large communities in the selection, funding, and guidance of candidates and then how to help their endorsed candidates win their elections.

Part 2 of this series will explore how this knowledge emerged in the formation of the Voice 4 Indi community action group and its candidate, Cathy McGowan’s election and reelection to Parliament.

Part 3 will then explore how the successful paradigm established by the Indi group facilitated the establishment of more ‘Voices of ….’ groups whose endorsed candidates have gone on to win several more seats in Parliament – decimating the Liberal Party ranks of present and likely future leadership. This is probably only a foretaste of a much greater revolutionary wave to come with the next federal election.

In Part 4, I will present a theoretical framework for understanding the transformative revolution the teals are making towards replacing government representing political parties’ special interests and patrons, with a ‘participatory democracy’ of government. This is where no party has a majority and government decisions require involvement and assent from ‘community independents’ reflecting the thoughtful wants of the groups they are endorsed by and represent. In the last election, several of the losing Liberals wailed that having independents in the balance of power was a recipe for chaos and catastrophe. Countering this is the fact that the Gillard Minority Government was one of the most successful governments in Australian history measured by the amount of legislation passed in a term or the number of bills passed (see Hung Parliament: Chaos vs Independent Thinking).

Tsunami Warning! The ocean has receded and the teal tide is now rising at an accelerating rate

A desiccating Liberal Party ran into trouble under Howard and temporarily lost control of government

Time-lines of several electorates (Figs 1 & 2) highlight the growing importance of community independents in the in the changing nature of the Australian Parliament in the 21st Century. The story begins with the Liberal/National Coalition Government under PM John Howard becoming increasingly ‘dry‘, as Thatcherite economics, business and their special-interest donors were prioritized ahead of improving the lives of ordinary citizens (to say nothing of how this has been egged on by the growing power of the Murdoch media and their friends). The Sydney Morning Herald’s, 2021 Explainer, Who’s who in the Liberals’ left, right and centre factions? that to me provides evidence for a progressively growing shift in the Party from community representation to factional dogmatism.

Citizens’ concerns over the retreat from humanism and community representation in Coalition government under John Howard probably led to the 24 November 2007 election giving Labor a Parliamentary majority under Kevin Rudd.

Driving the point home that Australians were fed up with Drys and John Howard: Howard was defeated in his own seat of Bennelong by the well known and respected ABC journalist, Maxine McKew. She joined the Labor Party in 2006 after retiring from the ABC and was living with her long-time partner, Bob Hogg, National Secretary of the Labor party from 1988-93.

While in Parliament, McKew was a totally loyal follower of he Labor Party line. In retrospect, it would seem that her election was due more to the fact that she was a credible alternative to Howard for those voters tired of the dry conservatism of the Coalition, than a foretaste of a revolution to come. She lost in the 2013 Election because she offered the electorate nothing more than a rubber stamp for a chaotically under-performing Labor Government under Kevin Rudd. Bennelong was returned to the Liberals in the 21 August 2013 election through McKew’s loss to the well known tennis professional, John Alexander who presented a much milder and human brand of Liberalism than Howard had done.

The first ‘greenish’ community independents are elected

Also in the years before the 2010 election, and giving a foretaste of what was to come in 2013, three already established and socially progressive politicians were elected at different times to Federal Parliament as independent MPs: Tony Windsor (10/11/2001 – 05/08/2013) and Rob Oakeshott (06/09/2008 – 05/08/213) from safe National Party regions in mid-northern NSW, and Andrew Wilkie (21/08/2010 – ) from marginal and mostly urban southern Tasmania.

Tony Windsor‘s political career began in NSW state politics, where he initially intended to run for the National Party representing Tamworth. However, he was dropped by the NP and was elected to the seat as an independent, which he held from 1991 to 2001, when he ran as an independent for the federal electorate of New England, which he held from 2001 until his retirement for health reasons in 2013. In 2016 he re-contested the seat against Barnaby Joyce, but Joyce won comfortably.

Rob Oakeshott also began his political career in NSW state politics as an NP representative in 1996. While in the NP he held several ministerial portfolios, but split from the party as an independent in 2002 over his increasing dissatisfaction with the NP’s social conservatism. Nevertheless, Rob won the 2003 state election with 70% of the primary vote, showing that the community was clearly happy with how he represented them! He retained the seat in 2010 almost as easily. In 2008 Oakeshott resigned his state seat and ran for the Federal seat of Lyne, winning around two-thirds of the primary vote, which he retained in the 2010 election. He retired before the 2013 election. In 2016 he ran for Cowper (which included part of Lyne in a redistribution), and turned the seat marginal although he did not win. He ran again, unsuccessfully, in the 2019 election.

Andrew Wilkie started his professional career as an Army officer, becoming an intelligence officer in the Office of National Assessment. In 2003, in the lead-up to the Iraq War, he resigned from the ONA because he was concerned with the humanitarian consequences of going to war and disagreed with Howard’s push to join the invasion. He stood as a Greens candidate for Bennelong, running against the PM, John Howard in the 2004 Election – achieving nearly 17% of the primary vote. In the 2007 election he stood at second on the Greens Senate ticket for Tasmania, behind Bob Brown, where the Greens failed to win the second quota required to achieve Wilkie’s election. He resigned from the Greens in 2008, citing their lack of professionalism. He then ran in 2010 as an independent in the state seat of Dennison of Hobart, where he narrowly lost; and then in the 2010 federal election for the federal seat of Dennison (same boundaries) where he narrowly won on distribution of preferences.

In a 2010 interview by the ABC, Hobart Mercury columnist Greg Barns described Wilkie’s political situation:

Mr Barns says Mr Wilkie’s public and private battles with some of the institutions he is involved with do not reflect a difficult character, but show that he is a true independent.

“I know Andrew Wilkie very well. I’ve known him now for three or four years and talked policy with him,” he said.

“He’s a deep thinker, he’s a person of great integrity, and I think people of that sort of integrity, it’s not surprising that they might move from an organisation to an organisation.

“I think that’s what that shows about Wilkie – not that he’s a difficult character, simply that he is a person of integrity and he’s finally I think found his natural home, which is to be a true independent.”

https://web.archive.org/web/20100829044014/http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/08/26/2994143.htm

Wilkie was reelected in each subsequent election where today he still represents the community in the Division of Clark (renamed & slightly redistributed Denison).

Labor takes power in its own right (temporarily)

Despite winning a clear majority of seats in the 2007 election, over the term in Parliament Labor then failed to convince the electorate that they were any better than the Coalition.

Following Wikipedia’s summary, Rudd’s 2007 government ratified the Kyoto Protocol, offered a Parliamentary apology to the “Stolen Generation” and organized the somewhat farcical Australia 2020 Summit (of the 962 recommendations of the summit, only 9 would be adopted). In economic policy, his government re-regulated the labor market by rescinding the Howard government‘s dryish Workchoices reforms and responded to the Global Financial Crisis with a large (and successful) stimulus spending program. Rudd also dismantled the three pillars of the Howard government’s inhumane asylum seeker processing system – offshore processing, temporary protection visas, and turning back unauthorized boats at sea.

Tony Abbott replaced Malcolm Turnbull as the Liberal Party’s Leader of the Opposition in a spill on 1 December 2009. This gave him the maximum opportunity over the following years to give effect to his dogmas and represent his special interests by continuously attacking climate science and all things Labor both on the floor of Parliament and in the press.

Also, on the Labor side, Rudd’s autocratic, abrasive and chaotic leadership style, especially where the Government’s responses to climate issues were concerned, eventually led to a spill motion in the Labor Caucus. Rudd resigned before the spill vote and called for a vote on the leadership. His deputy, Julia Gillard was elected on 24 June 2010 (she received 71 votes to Rudd’s 31). She called an early Federal election for 21 August 2010. This resulted in a ‘hung’ Parliament where Labor and the Coalition each won only 72 seats – 4 short of the 76 required for a clear majority. Gillard was able to marshal pledges of support on supply from the cross-bench (3 independents and one Green) that allowed her to form a stable government. (Note that Philip Chubb’s book – available inexpensively in Kindle, Power Failure: The Inside Story of Climate Politics Under Rudd and Gillard, comprehensively explores this period in history, that will not be detailed here.)

The roles of three independents introduced above, Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott, and Andrew Wilkie, in the Gillard minority government represent the first ripple of what has become the ‘teal tsunami’.

The first pro-climate (i.e., ‘teal’) independents show what teals can do in the Gillard-led minority government

Following Labor’s win in the 2007 election under Kevin Rudd, the resulting Government was dogged by Rudd’s ego and chaotic leadership, confounded by party factionalism, culminating in movement towards a spill, leading to Rudd’s resignation on 24 June 2010 hours before the vote was scheduled (see Wikipedia). This gave Julia Gillard leadership for a period leading up to the 2010 federal election, which she called early for 21 August 2010. Labor lost several seats, and the Coalition regained several. Each side won 72 seats in the lower house, 4 short of a majority. The election and its results are detailed in Sims & Wanna (eds, – 2012), Julia 2010 — The caretaker election.

One Green (Adam Bandt) and three community independents, Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott, and Andrew Wilkie pledged support for Labor. While the Coalition led by Tony Abbott was only able to obtain two pledges, allowing Labor to form a minority government.

As detailed in my Climate Sentinel News article, Hung Parliament: Chaos vs Independent Thinking, this supposedly hung Parliament, was arguably the first (most legislation passed per unit of time) or second (percentage of legislation passed) most successful Parliament in Australian history in terms of formulating and passing legislation. Led by a woman, all successful Government legislation was developed and negotiated in collaboration with the three independents and one Green — something to think about!

Representative vs Participatory Democracy

There are a vast number of ways large social institutions such as nations can be managed. Most people would hope that their nation is governed in ways they can guide and that will benefit them, their families and acquaintances. Basically, most of us hope our governments are ‘democratic’. There are many different versions of ‘democracy’, and many different ways citizens can be involved in democratic processes. It is beyond me to sensibly explore this diversity, but I strongly recommend reading Wikipedia’s article, Democracy, for a practical survey of the possible forms of democracy.

Australia, from its foundation as an independent country was established as a ‘representative’ democracy with a parliamentary form of government.

Whether this was intended from the outset or not, most representative democracies end up being governed by members of a small number of political parties (usually two main blocks or coalitions) that battle for overall power. In Australia since the end of WWII, this has been between an increasingly dogmatic socially conservative coalition of rural and urban interests giving priority to free markets, economic management (i.e., the Liberal/National Coalition); and a more progressive or even dogmatically socialistic Labor Party or coalition giving priority to providing a better life for unionized workers and ordinary citizens.

To me, the net effect of such party-based ‘representative’ government provides less than ideal outcomes for ordinary citizens, whichever block is in government. This is because would-be representatives of the different parties must compete within their districts to be elected. To win, a competitor must build a substantial campaign organization and expend substantial resources on marketing to win enough votes from eligible voters to be elected. In general, to have much chance of being elected, a candidate requires requires the endorsement of a major party and its support in the form of organizational skills and funding for marketing,

To get this endorsement the candidate must show a high degree of loyalty to the party line, rather than his/her electorate. Almost inevitably, the political party ends up representing what its main financial donors and special (e.g., wealthy capitalists and corporations on the ‘conservative’ side; labor unions and major employers on the ‘progressive’ side) and what they rather than what the general citizens want. Voters thus end up being treated like a market to be harvested for votes that may then be sold to the special interests.

In other words, to win a party listens to its patrons and markets the patrons’ desires to the community; rather than listening to the community and working to achieve what the community wants. Inevitably, to be supported on a continuing basis, party-sponsored MPs must follow the discipline of their parties in the same way that the parties need to follow the ‘disciplines’ demanded by their sponsors.

On the other hand, participatory democracy works to achieve a system whereby citizens have a direct role in selecting and supporting candidates, and in guiding their actions and decisions when once selected. This is much harder to achieve in that there are few if any paradigms to follow that are proven to work, or that don’t quickly degenerate to autocracy or party politics.

Fig. 5. Comparison of ‘representative’ democracy and ‘participatory democracy as used in this article.

World history suggests that party politics is the default condition / dominant paradigm for representative democracy. As summarized below, the rise of the teals in Australia represents what I think is the beginning of a fundamental revolution or “paradigm shift” in the nature of Australian politics and Government from political party-driven “representative democracy” to what its practitioners in local community action groups (usually known as “Voices of …”) call “participatory democracy“.

The revolution is being driven by the emergence, evolution, and proliferation of a new type of self-sustaining community action group focused on achieving political representation for its members and associates. These action groups, often known as “Voices of …” the particular constituency they represent. By comparison, even though political parties are normally based on local branches to “get out the vote” for their endorsed candidates, they often have little or no effective role in candidate selection or in setting the candidate’s parliamentary agenda. The following graphic based on my own observations summarizes the differences between the two social systems.

Fig. 6. Characteristics of two different social organizations focused on electing representatives: political parties and community-based “voices of …” organizations

Part 2, takes up the story with the NE Victorian electorate of Indi, where the first self-declared community independent Cathy McGowan replaced the Liberal incumbent, Sophie Mirabella in the 2013 Federal Election, as Tony Abbott’s Liberal led Coalition replaced the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd government.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Urgent action needed now to stop warming!

Aside from some flooding Australia has had it fairly easy compared to increasing frequency, extent, and severity of climate catastrophes in other parts of the world.

Don’t let our cooler La Nina and Indian Ocean dipole conditions fool you. The rest of the world really suffering!

Bill McKibben, is an American environmentalist, author, and journalist who has written extensively on the impact of global warming and and leads the climate campaign group 350.org. Here he summarizes evidence from increasingly frequent, extensive, and ferocious climate catastrophes in the Northern Hemisphere that shows global warming is continuing to accelerate.

As many articles posted on Climate Sentinel News in the run-up to Australia’s May 21 federal election also show, nothing we have done to date has measurably slowed the acceleration of global warming that may well lead to runaway warming and global mass extinction of humans and most other complex life on Earth. To stop this process while we can, our nations need to actively mobilize now to stop all carbon emissions and begin rapidly ramping up research and pilot projects to recapture and safely sequester some of the excess carbon already in our atmosphere.

Removing our COALition Government and electing several more ‘teal’ community independents to Parliament in the election just passed has finally given us a Labor Government that might be able to prioritize real climate action. However, because Labor continues to have its share of special interest puppet masters in the fossil fuel industry, pressure still needs to be applied by voters and their teal representatives in Parliament to speed climate action.

As the featured article here shows, we are already seeing the kinds of climate catastrophes able to cause mass human die-off events directly from the climate extremes themselves or famines resulting from associated crop failures.

A buoy rests on the cracked mud of Lake Mead in Nevada, in normal times America’s biggest reservoir (from the article)

by Bill McKibben, 23/08/2022 in the Crucial Years

Water, Water Nowhere – Except the spots that are flooding

China is enduring a truly remarkable heatwave—by some accounts “the worst heatwave known in world climatic history.” (Its main competitor for the title may be last year’s insane ‘heat dome’ that ran Canadian temperatures up to 121 Fahrenheit). The heat just never lets up over some of the most densely populated land on planet earth: It hit 113 degrees Fahrenheit in Chongqing Thursday, the highest temperature ever recorded in the country outside of desert Xinjiang. It hit 110 in Sichuan, which is a province of…80 million people, or two Californias. When it gets that hot, water just evaporates—Sichuan is 80 percent dependent on hydropower, but the reservoirs behind the great dams like Three Gorges are falling nearly as fast as Lake Mead and Lake Powell. The province has cut power day after day, including to Tesla and Toyota factories, and to many of the firms that supply the planet’s auto parts; the EV revolution is being held up by the effects of the problem it is trying to solve.

Read the complete article….

Featured Image: Own resources.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

August 2022 Greenhouse Gas Report

No evidence here that humans have done anything yet to stop and reverse GHG emissions to get us off the road to Hothouse Earth and global mass extinction.

As the ocean ice around Antarctic approaches its maximum spread for the year, on 19 August 2022 Antarctic sea-ice extent is the second lowest ever as recorded in the satellite era as recorded by the US National Snow & Ice Data Center. As sunlight again begins to shine on the antarctic polar region more of the ocean surface is exposed to solar heating that will warm the waters surrounding the ice cap to speed glacial melting and slow the formation of more sea-ice next winter.

July’s trends in global warming continue in August. Heatwaves, fires, and droughts in the Northern Hemisphere continue, e.g:

In the run-up to Australia’s May 22 Federal Election many articles on our Climate Sentinel News documented the reality, mechanisms and dangers humans face if global warming is allowed to continue. If global warming runs away due to already documented feedback mechanisms heating will continue at an accelerating rate that will soon rise beyond the capacity anything humans can do to stop it.

Critical time is wasting. It is time for all of our politicians, new and old to lead our country in massive mobilization to stop carbon emissions and start implementing carbon capture and sequestration processes able to extract excess amounts from the atmosphere. Biological processes are likely to scale up a lot more successfully than engineering solutions. Geoengineering to increase Earth’s reflectivity (i.e., albedo reduction) may also help. We know how to stop emissions, but sequestration and albedo reduction will require significant research that needs to start now.

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE, AND THE URGENCY GROWS WITH EVERY DAY OF DELAY!

Featured image: See July’s report for details.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Teal First Speeches in Parliament

A flock of teal independents has landed in Parliament. Their ‘first speeches’ show why their community independent movement is so important.

Introduction

This article here is an extract from a major essay I am currently writing on the origins, emergence and evolution of the ‘teal tsunami’ and the growth of the body of knowledge enabling and generated by the revolution. A preliminary version of the essay will be published in parts on Climate Sentinel News as they are finished. Discussion and commentary on them will be greatly appreciated as this will help me improve the final product to be formally published.

For several years I have been hopelessly pessimistic about the capacity of our governments to solve the existential problems the human species faces as we slide down the road to runaway global warming leading to an unsurvivable Hothouse Earth. However, after attending the Community Independents Project Convention, ‘Empowered Communities – Next Steps‘ and listening to these ladies describe their life histories and intentions going into Parliament, I am optimistic that they will help transform our government into a capable instrument for organizing appropriate responses to the dangers ahead.

The image featured in this post is from a blog by someone else who attended the CIP Convention and draws the same very optimistic conclusions I have. Begin with the video linked from the blog to share some of the excitement this transformation in bringing:

Community Independents Project Convention Video:
It isn’t a (political) party. It’s a celebration and affirmation of a revolutionary new kind of politics

By Millie Rooney, (undated) in Australia Remade

Celebrating doing democracy differently

I’ve spent the whole weekend attending an online work-related convention and I should be feeling resentful about being trapped inside at my computer. But the crazy thing is, I’m more excited to be at my desk on a Monday morning than I have been for weeks!

I was at Empowered Communities: Next Steps, the Community Independents Convention and I’m still buzzing.

The event was an opportunity for “community campaigners, ‘voices for’ and community groups, peak bodies, community independent MPs, candidates seeking what next and all those interested in community engagement and grassroots democracy” to share their experiences and ideas, to celebrate what has been achieved and to think about the next steps.

And GOSH it was interesting! There was a full range of fascinating sessions from those in Parliament, to those who’d only just engaged in capital-P politics for the first time, to those who’ve been playing with campaign ideas for years.

I’ve tried to distill some of what I think were the most interesting lessons to come out of the convention, but first, I want to talk about the vibe…

Read the complete article….

As will be demonstrated in subsequent parts of this project, evidence from the Parliamentary performances of early teal MPs and their precursors is that once elected, they continue working for what their electorates tell them they want. Because they don’t forget or ignore their electors, they seem to keep getting reelected for as long as they want to stay in the job.

Political parties representing special interests take note:

I would argue that the election of a flock of teal independents to our parliamentary lower house represents a fundamental revolution in the nature of the Australian political system (the Senate will be discussed elsewhere). The transformation is from ‘representative’ democracy mainly representing special interests, to one of ‘participatory’ democracy, where communities of voters genuinely select and guide work of their preferred representatives. The ladies embodying this transformation come from a variety of backgrounds ranging from affluent urban electorates to comparatively hard scrabble rural communities. A common factor is that most of these transformed electorates were considered to be Liberal Party heartlands. Let the teals tell you in their own words in their ‘First Speeches’ on entry to Parliament why they ran and what they are intending to do.

As you listen to these speeches, you might consider what this tells you about the Liberal Party they are demolishing…. The Labor Party is likely to be next — especially if they don’t begin to rapidly progress actions to stop and reverse global warming.

Every one of these teal independents’ speeches is worth listening to in its entirety (20-30 min each). These women as truly remarkable: Each is caring, motivated, intelligent, wise, capable and responsible — and practiced in networking, listening, negotiating and managing. Together, they represent a fundamentally transformative revolution in Australian politics.

However, to gain a flavor without spending a whole day, each of the First Speech links below starts with a point in each speech focusing on something that tells an important story about the teal tsunami or the new MP. Dot points below jump to other significant topics in each speech.

PRECURSORS

Tony Windsor, elected 2001

First speech not found

Valedictory 26/06/2013
(no video, link only)

Rob Oakeshott, elected 2008

First speech not found

Valedictory 27/06/2013 28m (link includes transcript)

Andrew Wilkie, elected 2010

First speech transcript

Still in office

TEAL INDEPENDENTS (lower house only)

i.e., community independents who have specifically prioritized climate action in their Parliamentary agendas

Kathy McGowan

INDI, elected 2013, returned 2016, succeeded by teal Helen Haines in 2019

First Speech in Parliament
2/12/2013
Rebekha Sharkie

MAYO, elected 2016, reelected 2018, returned 2019, and returned again in 2022

First Speech in Parliament
19/09/2016
Kerryn Phelps

WENTWORTH, elected 20/10/2018, succeeded by Dave Sharma 2019

First Speech in Parliament
26/11/2018
Helen Haines,

INDI, elected 2019, returned 2022

First Speech in Parliament
01/08/2019
Zali Steggall

WARRINGA, elected 2019, returned 2022

First Speech in Parliament
24/07/2019
Allegra Spender

WENTWORTH, elected 2022, replacing Dave Sharma

First Speech in Parliament
02/08/2022
Monique Ryan

KOOYONG, elected 2022

First Speech in Parliament
28/07/2022
Zoe Daniel

GOLDSTEIN, elected 2022

First Speech in Parliament
01/08/2022
Sophie Scamps

MACKELLAR, elected 2022

First Speech in Parliament
01/08/2022
Kylea Tink

NORTH SYDNEY, elected 2022

First Speech in Parliament
28/07/2022
Kate Chaney

CURTIN, elected 2022

First Speech in Parliament
28/07/2022

In one sense, all of these speeches are mundane statements of what each of these new MPs is bringing to Parliament, i.e., they should be totally boring like the shopping lists they are. But listened to in detail, they are definitely not boring to anyone like me, concerned with the future of our planet, society, and communities. These people are extraordinary, in heritage, in experience, in community involvement, and in prior achievements. There is every reason to think they will do even more in the future than they have up to this point. To hear such people talking about how they will help shape our futures is optimistically exciting…..

I can even hope that Australia’s transformation in politics will spread to other ‘democratic’ nations around the world where control is held by political parties representing special interests rather than their communities of voters such that we can work collectively to address the only issue that really matters — climate change.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Reminder: A New Government is Not a Solution to the Climate Emergency – Action is Required!

Since Australia’s 21 May national election, I’ve been too busy working on a series of articles on the genesis of the ‘Teal Tsunami’ of climate friendly community independents that is transforming Australian government to post much else. However, replacement of the COALition Government whose solution to the climate emergency was denial by one that at least accepts that the emergency is real still does not solve the problem. Today’s post is a reminder that effective action becomes more urgent with every day that passes.

By David Spratt, 10/08/2022 in Climate Code Red

High-profile paper on “catastrophic” climate impacts echoes our “What Lies Beneath” analysis on fat-tail, existential risks and IPCC reticence, published four years ago

Last week, just as a new paper on catastrophic climate risks was hitting the media, I received an email:

It would appear some scientists are now, finally, openly speaking about what you yourself have long been describing as the ‘high end’ or ‘fat tail’ risks associated with climate change and want UN scientists to look into the risks of catastrophic climate change. Here’s the link to the article on the BBC website…  On two occasions when reading this article I did punch the air on your behalf; when it mentions the need for more emphasis on tipping points and for the IPCC to produce a special report on catastrophic climate failure..

It wasn’t the only one. 

So what does this new paper say?  Well, in essence, some very similar things to our report What Lies Beneath: The underestimation of existential climate risks.

Read the complete article: http://www.climatecodered.org/2022/08/high-profile-paper-on-catastrophic.html

As early as 2016 based on my backgrounds in evolutionary biology and technology, I was beginning to publish the same message. If we humans don’t stop and reverse global warming we face near-term (i.e., in less than a century) global mass extinction, including the extinction of our own species and families. See

And, as if this wasn’t enough to highlight the reality of the dangers we face from inaction, the bulk of my posts here in Climate Sentinel News present the ever growing evidence that the impacts we are already facing from the climate emergency are increasing in magnitude, frequency, and death tolls. We are clearly approaching a physical point of no return, beyond which we can do nothing to escape the one-way road to mass extinction.

Parliament needs to declare a state of emergency and begin total mobilization to stop all carbon emissions and begin works to scrub excess carbon from the atmosphere. The latter will require more research, but the most promising technologies I can see from my wide general knowledge all involve either:

  • biological sequestration in the oceans, especially fertilizing ocean ‘deserts’ with iron to grow algae and farming of zooplankton and fish to take the captured carbon to the sea floors along with their deaths; or
  • reflecting solar radiation away from our planet, perhaps using carbonate aerosols (e.g., chalk dust), which in addition to reflecting light will when it falls out help neutralize excess acidity of the oceans produced by its absorption of excess CO2.

PARLIAMENTARIANS NEED TO BEGIN ACTING NOW, AND VOTERS IN UPCOMING STATE ELECTIONS NEED TO ELECT MORE CLIMATE FRIENDLY COMMUNITY INDEPENDENTS TO RE-ENFORCE AND EXECUTE CLIMATE ACTION AT THE LOCAL LEVEL

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

July 2022 Climate – still on road to extinction

Australia has a new government. Every month we fail to stop global warming is a month closer to global mass extinction. Still no visible progress towards solution.

https://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/charctic-interactive-sea-ice-graph/

The graphic above downloaded today shows the current state of sea-ice surrounding the Antarctic continent. Despite what seems to be a cold winter in Victoria, its coverage indicated by the teal blue line in the chart is 530 km2 smaller than it has ever been before for this time of the year. There are many more indicators that the climate is still deteriorating towards making Earth uninhabitable for its present life forms (including humans!) at an accelerating rate.

The following news items underline the dangers this represents for humans.

Model-analyzed temperatures at 12Z Tuesday, July 19, 2022 (noon GMT) were transcending average values for the time of day and season by 12 to 24 degrees Celsius—or 22 to 33 degrees Fahrenheit—over large parts of northwestern Europe. (Image credit: tropicaltidbits.com) [from the article]

by Bob Hensen, 17/07/2022 in Eye on the Storm, Yale Climate Connections

Horrific heat descends upon Western Europe: 104°F in London

Dozens of all-time record highs melted on Monday and Tuesday under a searing, deadly European heat wave that has caused at least 1,169 heat-related deaths in Spain and Portugal. The heat wave has also brought the hottest day on record for many locations in France and the hottest temperatures — by far — ever observed in the United Kingdom.

The record-smashing heat in Europe’s normally mild, maritime northwest corner was eerily comparable to the astounding heat wave in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and far southwest Canada in June 2021. The latter was found to have been “virtually impossible” without human-produced climate change.

By 9 a.m. GMT on Tuesday, July 19, London’s Heathrow Airport had already surged past 90°F, and at 12:50 p.m., the airport’s official observing site for London recorded what, if confirmed, would be the hottest temperature in London history: 40.2 degrees Celsius, or 104.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Read the complete article

Record high temperatures and extreme weather events are being recorded around the world. Photograph: Ian Logan/Getty Images [from the article]

by Robin McKie, 31/07/2022 in the Guardian

‘Soon it will be unrecognisable’: total climate meltdown cannot be stopped, says expert

Blistering heatwaves are just the start. We must accept how bad things are before we can head off global catastrophe, according to a leading UK scientistRobin McKie.

The publication of Bill McGuire’s latest book, Hothouse Earth, could not be more timely. Appearing in the shops this week, it will be perused by sweltering customers who have just endured record high temperatures across the UK and now face the prospect of weeks of drought to add to their discomfort.

And this is just the beginning, insists McGuire, who is emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London. As he makes clear in his uncompromising depiction of the coming climatic catastrophe, we have – for far too long – ignored explicit warnings that rising carbon emissions are dangerously heating the Earth. Now we are going to pay the price for our complacence in the form of storms, floods, droughts and heatwaves that will easily surpass current extremes.

Read the complete article

In the run-up to the May 21st Federal Election, I posted many more articles documenting the increasing risk of mass extinction that humans face if we do not stop and reverse the runaway acceleration that is flipping our global climate to the Hothouse Earth state.

In the Election Australians replaced the Liberal/National COALition with a more climate friendly Labor government supported by an extensive cross-bench of climate-friendly independents (‘teals‘) and Greens.

The Government has very little time (if any – see the article above) to act to stop carbon emissions and to do what we can to remove some of the past excesses from the atmosphere.

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!

Featured image:

Time series graphs showing the variation in the three most important greenhouse gases as observed and recorded by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Global Monitoring Laboratory at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii.

The carbon dioxide data on Mauna Loa shown in the top row constitute the longest record of direct measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere. They were started by C. David Keeling of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in March of 1958 at a facility of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [Keeling, 1976]. The first graph shows atmospheric CO2 concentrations over the last five complete years of the Mauna Loa CO2 record plus the current year. The second graph shows annual mean CO2 growth rates for Mauna Loa. In the graph, decadal averages of the growth rate are also plotted, as horizontal lines for 1960 through 1969, 1970 through 1979, and so on.

The middle row charts the growth of atmospheric methane: the first graph shows the full NOAA time-series starting in 1983, The red circles are globally averaged monthly mean values centered on the middle of each month. The black line and squares show the long-term trend (in principle, similar to a 12-month running mean) where the average seasonal cycle has been removed.The second graph summarizes annual increases in atmospheric CH4 based on globally averaged marine surface data.

The bottom row charts the growth of atmospheric N2O (Nitrous oxide) beginning in 2001, when NOAA began to have confidence in the data. Values for the last year are preliminary pending recalibrations of standard gases and other quality control steps. The second graph plots the annual increase in atmospheric N2O in a given year, i.e., the increase in its abundance (mole fraction) from January 1 in that year to January 1 of the next year, after the seasonal cycle has been removed (as shown by the black lines in the first figure). It represents the sum of all N2O added to, and removed from, the atmosphere during the year by human activities and natural processes.

As yet, there is NO evidence that any of these values are beginning to stop increasing, let alone decrease, as the result of any human actions.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.