„Abbruchstimmung“[1] or post-election depression?

Even if my blog is far from being popular, one or the other of its readers might have wondered about my silence over the past few weeks. Well, fact is that I’m still in sort of a post-election trauma that starts to change over to a state of perpetual depression.

Considering all the shitty “promises” that the new Coalition government has already turned into action, I’m seriously wondering where this all leads to and what there can be done under a morally wrong and corrupt political system.

Yesterday, I was at a divestment forum organized by 350.org and while it was very encouraging to see so many citizens willing to stand up against climate change, I couldn’t help thinking that we, who do care, are actually paying at least triple for the inaction of others.
First, we pay taxes as all other citizens are forced to do. However, in the case of Australia and under the current government these taxes are used to dismantle the environment and not to protect it. What means that if we care for the environment (and hence our well-being) we have to spend additional money to mitigate the damage done on it by the system. So far, that seems quite simple and probably normal for most of us, even if it’s morally wrong.
Now, the point I have been mulling over again and again comes here: while we invest our money in order to save part of what others (the mass or the lion share of voters) destroy, those others invest their money where it brings most profits for them (as we have heard yesterday, highest profits come from unethical investment). The consequence is that while we spend our savings on the protection of common goods, those “others” increase theirs to have it for future private use, such as adaptation to climate change.

In other words, while some of us try to protect something that can’t be protected without assignment of property rights[2], few smart and morally corrupt persons keep theirs to adapt to the damage of climate change instead of mitigating it. That can be in many forms: better selection of the location of their home, more money to spend on air conditioning, better insurance against natural hazards etc.
I guess readers get my point and it’s needless to say that while some of this world’s citizens are doomed to suffer or drown where they were born due to their country of origin and inhumane asylum policies elsewhere, all the Tony Abbotts and Rupert Murdochs will have enough money and friends to move and live wherever they are safe from natural disasters or the burden of a changing climate.

Do you think it will hurt those guys if the costs of veggies at the supermarket will double within five years? No, it won’t, because your money works for them!

Climate change has one explanation: lack of property rights for (clean) air. Or in other words, too many actors are allowed to pollute for too little money or at no cost at all. As long as this won’t be changed, private investments in climate change mitigation are an ethical correct decision but from an economical point of view provide others with comparative financial advantages. This in turn will make them even more powerful and provide them with the means to win more political discourses (the past elections have shown that even in countries like Australia, money and not facts or ideologies win seats). It’s a vicious circle and unless we break it, things will get worse.

Consequently, no matter what economists say, climate change mitigation must happen by the ballot paper and not only with the money of a few good souls on earth.


[1] Abbruchstimmung (ger.) = atmosphere and/or mood for demolition/breakup

[2] In opposition to what economists said yesterday I believe that it’s exactly that one of the fundamental principles of economic theory best illustrated in Hardin’s “tragedy of the commons” that explains why private investment will not work as long as there is no (or not enough) legal framework to protect the environment and as long as it’s treated as a common good.

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About blaubear

Born in 1973 in a small village in rural Switzerland and into a society largely dominated by cows (not only was the human population of one-hundred-and-forty outnumbered by them, but politics driven by unreasonable subsidies for diary products) I was connected with nature from early age on. Observing nature on one hand and the deficiencies of a dysfunctional Swiss agricultural policy with farmers that had lost connection to the land that provided their income on the other, I soon started to question society and the meaning of life. Suffering also under a farcical public education I developed curiosity to discover on my own. That was how I soon learned that little of what I had been taught was true. Skepticism and interaction with people from for me new cultures fostered my interest for the world and eagerness to leave a life shaped by federalistic layman-ship. At the age of twenty-three I hit the road for the first time, an event that later translated into passion. Traveling between cultures has since become part of my life. At the age of thirty-three I finally realized my dream and did a degree in Environmental Engineering from which I graduated in 2009, only to leave Switzerland once more for my "real home" Spain. Unfortunately, the stay was a short one: a couple of months later I was offered a job in Southeast Asia, where I worked and also lived (with some interruptions, e.g. I live in Melbourne since late 2012) ever since. Having worked for a Japanese company earlier in my life, I soon felt captured again by Asian culture and thinking which makes a lovely contrast to my European heritage. My journey through different countries and cultures has taught me that regardless of how different our thinking and values are, no matter what approaches we take, we all can learn from each other. And if we are open enough to see the common instead of pointing out the differences, then we have a chance to live in harmony and peace: Life is all about integration, not exclusion! It's an old wisdom that "knowledge is power", as such I never get tired of being around new people, having interesting talks, and reading lots of good books. I hope that my blog can contribute to the conversation.
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4 Responses to „Abbruchstimmung“[1] or post-election depression?

  1. Patrick S says:

    Hi Urs – good post, I think you’ve put your finger on it a bit with the post-election malaise – I tried to tell myself it was coming re Abbott but you’re right, it is a real downer that his govt is going hard to repeal the little positive progress we managed last parliament. I get especially pissed whenever I see what claims to be our national newspaper, the Australian, is basically an out-and-out cheer squad for Abbott now.

    Re regular people – I guess that’s the big challenge isn’t it, are people generally good-natured and prepared to do the right thing (so its mostly the powerful media’s fault), or is it a broader problem of apathy, self-interest at expense of common interest etc. It did seem that back when Rudd was elected in 2007 there was at least a reasonable mandate to “do something” genuine to mitigate climate change, but was that squandered by the ALP govt he led’s backflips and compromises, or was it only a temporary concern of wider public as a result of the Inconvenient Truth movie etc?

    I have also been re-thinking about climate change strategy lately … some left-wing people like Naomi Klein campaign that its only with a thorough-going re-invention of society, to reduce wealth & power inequalities etc, that we’ll address climate change effectively. But to plan on such a change seems a “long-shot” given the pressing timescale involved. I increasingly think from my studies & work in urban planning and transport for example, socially positive behaviour change is possible, but also seems challenging and sometimes over long timescales (though some European countries changed quite rapidly in the 70s due to the oil crisis and community campaigns, such as the Netherland’s change to bike-friendly planning).

    So in this light, I have generally been skeptical about nuclear power as a technology with seemingly serious risks and that seems to create long-term environmental management problems, but am re-thinking this recently and having a look at the case made for ‘nuclear as a measure for climate change mitigation’ again, e.g. Barry Brooks’ http://bravenewclimate.com/ .

    What’s your perspective on this as someone who grew up in Europe? E.g. if France’s energy supply really is greatly less carbon-intensive compared to most due to their strong nuclear commitment, despite far from being a utopian society and having its challenges like many others – maybe this is a pretty strong argument to be considered.

    I don’t mean this as an excuse to give up campaigning and working on other issues as clearly a big roll-out of nuclear would only be part of the picture anyway – and as you know climate change is only one part of the broader ecological problems we face. But as per Asimov in his story ‘The Gods Themselves’, maybe a society-wide rapid change in energy-generation does need a source that can be substituted in to current systems relatively rapidly. Especially looking globally where many countries have less renewable-energy generation potential than Australia.

    Or is this a cop-out and my own piece of post-Abbott election depression!

    cheers, Pat S.

    • blaubear says:

      Thanks Pat for your comment and thoughts on this. It’s an interesting question and I am thinking that I will reply to you in form of a new post….hope that’s ok. Should come soon:)

    • blaubear says:

      Ok, there you go.
      Hope this gives some answer and insight into the perspective of a person with European (and hence nuclear) background. We Swiss used to see a huge threat in all the power plants of our neighbor France. In the meantime, we run the oldest vehicles in the world. A shame!!!

  2. Pingback: Tempting nuclear power plants and how to solve the energy question | Ideas for a greener environment, a fairer society and a future driven by sustainability

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