Philobiblon: Really, really glad

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Really, really glad

... that I'm not in Australia at the moment, as little Johnnie Howard has just passed Hawke as the second longest-serving Prime Minister and the media is apparently falling over itself to "celebrate".

As this article indicates, the fact that he even got elected in the first place was astonishing. But once there, he grasped the Daily Mail "scare 'em silly with invented or grossly exaggerated dangers" tactic, and used that well. Still, Lady Luck, don't you think this is enough?

As for the tsunami, well, what is there to say? It is a reminder that for all that the human race has accomplished in increasing its power over the environment, it is still puny in the face of the great natural forces. Greenhouse effect anyone?

On that subject, it is a pity that the US was unaffected - the demonstration might have done it good, at least if this London Review of Books article about the state of play on global warming in biology and politics is correct:

"A more sinister explanation for Washington’s resistance has to do with the centrality of military strategy in contemporary policy-making. Donald Rumsfeld and others like him have apparently calculated that climate change will enhance rather than detract from the country’s long-term security.

The US, with its flexible economy, temperate location, low population density and access to Canadian water, oil, natural gas and agriculture, would suffer less than other major countries as a result of climate change.

‘With diverse growing climates, wealth, technology and abundant resources,’ a report prepared last year for the Pentagon concluded, ‘the United States could likely survive shortened growing cycles and harsh weather conditions without catastrophic losses . . . even in this continuous state of emergency the US will be positioned well compared to others.’ (The report is available at change.pdf.)

In comparison, China and India would struggle to cope with severe storms, decreasing agricultural production, energy shortfalls and mass population displacements, while the EU is ill prepared for the Siberian climate that would follow the collapse of the Gulf Stream, not to mention the waves of environmental refugees from North Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East that would hit European shores.

If the weakness of one’s opponents is as important as one’s own strength, the emissions generated in the US by SUVs and climate-controlled houses could be conceived as an insidious weapon in a ruthless struggle for power.

Finally, a little bit of sanity, in an article on Understanding Terror Networks someone has actually done some solid-looking quantitative research on the nature of al-Qaeda networks.

Happy New Year!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow - that post was dense with important thoughts. i read the terrorism link you suggested and found it fascinating... the global warming idea and the pentagon report sound possible - though i doubt it's being used actively as a "weapon". a more passive "not my problem" sounds right. great post!

12/30/2004 05:10:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

Thank you say I, with a small formal bow. All compliments gratefully received. And I should say to other readers: Check out Dr Charles, and learn what a doctor really has to deal with!

1/01/2005 03:30:00 am  
Blogger Trish said...

I'm American. I've been helping Australian women's groups with the proposed Family Resolution Centers as well as their battles with Australian fathers' rights groups for a year or two, so I'm familiar with what the PM has been doing down there. I was surprised that he was re-elected, too. The mind-boggler for me was when he gutted domestic violence funds to pay for terrorism refrigerator magnets. I thought politics in the U. S. was goofy. That one took the cake.

1/03/2005 04:43:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

Thanks Trish - I missed the refrigerator magnets. I do generally keep up with Oz politics, although I haven't lived there for more than 10 years - but sometimes despair makes me give up on the subject for a while.

1/03/2005 05:13:00 pm  

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