Imagine you are a wealthy factory owner and philanthropist in the mid 19th Century. You give monthly donations (a miniscule percentage of your factory’s profits) to an orphanage in your area. Sometimes, you employ some of the older orphans in your textiles factory to help them get on their feet financially. You feel strongly that you are doing your duty.
One day, the Director of the orphanage comes and knocks on your door. He tells you a sad story about how a fire in a nearby factory spread to the orphanage. Most of the buildings were made of wood and are now unusable. All the orphans are currently squashed into one small building which was unaffected. It is untenable. They need extra funding to fix up the buildings which were burned. Furthermore, the Director says, he wants to build in stone because it is more fire-proof. He has spent the last 2 days knocking on doors trying to get support from philanthropists and businesses in the local community. He is desperate for your help.
What would you do? Would you ignore his story? Would you tell him that you already do enough for his cause? Would you tell him that he is expecting far too much charity and that the orphanage should do more to help itself? How dare he ask for your money in order to build in a more expensive material?
That is what our government is telling Tuvalu and other Pacific Island Nations.
Their home is sinking. They struggle to grow food because the salt content in the soil is increasing. Right near the equator, the heat increase is quickly becoming unbearable. Their Leaders asked Australia to show support by implementing stronger, more urgent Climate Change policies. They want us to help ensure the future of their islands. Our government refused. Our government, who treats refugees like criminals, is happy to allow Island Nations to sink (creating hundreds of thousands of refugees) so that we can sell more coal, maintain our GDP, and ignore scientific insurance policies for the future.
Last night, as I put the kids to bed, my husband sat with his computer, reading an article which talks about the history of Tesla (the car and the company) and it outlines the profit-based reasons why the oil industry and the car industry has fought and will continue to fight tooth and nail against the electric car industry. Every day they keep people buying fossil cars, is another day of humungous profits – more than five billion dollars a day. They can afford to spend untold monies on fighting the truth. Shorting Tesla Shares is a worthwhile expense for them – like a building-supplies salesman, in our story, employing somebody to disable the fire fighting service in whatever way they can get away with.
It’s a very convincing article. I really hope some people will read it.
Furthermore the oil/car industries lock people into supporting them. Recently we have engaged in battle with our Superfunds, trying to divest from fossil fuels and put our money where we think it should be spent. For reasons which I won’t go into here, P is hamstrung by a paper which he unwittingly signed back in 2004. And he can’t even switch Superfunds because his employer won’t allow it. So, for all we know, our biggest nest-egg is tied up in fossil fuels and there is nothing we can do about it. Not being able to choose how we invest our own money makes no sense at all to me.
These powerful companies are the factories from where the fires are spreading, their flames licking the ignorant, the vulnerable and the disinterested.
I look out the window at a pretty, damp winter day. I see bare branches dancing as they have danced for time immemorial. I see the sun glancing off green grass and silver puddles. Somewhere out there is the edge of my world and the beginning of somebody else’s. A little imagination and I almost see it out the window. Our comfortable world, insulated by clever media and determined profiteers, is a giant Truman Show.