Sunday, July 17, 2011

"Crazy" that public transport would be hit by carbon tax when petrol for cars would be exempt

NZ in Tranzit - Climate change, your move. 

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gilliard and her government have received much criticism for the new carbon tax which taxes public transport, seen by most as part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

The tax is designed to try to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and help fund alternatives, but like most such efforts is largely a tokenism, with little likelihood of changing habits or arresting global degradation.

Note too, the increase to public transport fares is rated to be "up to $150 a year" or less than $3 per week, presumably inner suburbs will pay even less, hardly a massive suffering, given any carbon tax must impact upon normal activity.

Many of the predictions made by the International Panel on Climate Control about ten years ago - such as increased forest fires in Russia, increased flooding in Pakistan and Bangladesh and worldwide increase in hurricanes and tornadoes (and their ferocity) are now occurring. Extreme conditions and events are likely to escalate even more rapidly as sea temperatures change and sea life in "the lungs of the world" is extinguished.

Australia has already suffered massive effects from rapid global climate change - the death of over 540 people from a heatwave in Victoria in 2009 (374 deaths above average for that week and a further 174 in bush-fires) and a further 40 plus deaths and $30 billion dollars in damage from December-January floods in Queensland earlier this year.

Events like this that were once rated "once in hundred years" (though none previously so severe) are expected to occur increasingly often, perhaps as much as once a decade, if car and plane exhausts, and coal fired powered stations, in particular, across the world can not be restricted.

Meanwhile changing weather patterns, moving more rain south, have dropped the rainfall in the giant Murray River basin catchment area, the heartland of much Australia's agriculture and wine producing industry and pumping of water out has futher reduced its flow to a new norm less than two thirds pf previous - at one point flow dropped to only 16% of the average norm.

The irony of killing the planet so the the thoughtless and uncaring rich 15% of the global population who own cars (including most New Zealanders) can drive to the convenience store is that it also kills the felt quality of life.  If lifestyle changes were made - getting used to taking 45 minutes longer per day getting tofro work by public transport for example - in a matter of weeks it would be felt as the norm and feel entirely painless.

Too much comfort kills the soul and fresh quality and texture of life. Unexpected benefits from "going public" include experiencing and enjoying walking and the weather (all sorts) and chatting with neighbours at the bus stop; time to think about the day or evening ahead, reading a book without interruption (for those than can read on moving vehicles) and, not least,  "people watching" - immersion and sharing in a world of incredible human diversity. Deeper satisfactions can replace the race to get to to grave or race to get home and watch stultifying television for two or three hours!!!

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