S Sense

I took a road trip up to Woodford last weekend. Woodford, for those of you who dont know, is a village about an hours drive north of Brisbane. Its where the Woodford Folk Festival is held every year. Well, not exactly in Woodford, but on a property owned by the festival organisers five minutes drive out of this fairly ordinary Australian village. (Pub, bakery with no vegetarian pies, and a caf with enough oil on the walls to excite an American politician.)

It was a road trip because theres no other way to get there. (Unless you walk, but I think its illegal to walk on a highway now.) In this wide bitumened land you drive or you stay put. In less enlightened days (free education, job security) there was public transport.

But of course energy efficiency means less consumption. And in a world dominated by profit thats a bad thing.

So as I fly up there at the speed of (Michael Frantis) sound Im mixing it on six lanes of John Macadams finest with hundreds, no thousands, of other cars, most of which carry one person; most going to the same place.

Ah, the glorious freedom of personal transport.

Each car is a carbon copy of greenhouse madness.

But we know better now, dont we? We know that we are in (not approaching, but in) a process of climate change. Even the little fella John Dubya admits that. (And lets face it. Our politicians are the very last to come to grips with reality.)

But Australia will not sign the Kyoto agreement. Or initiate serious alternatives. We are a fat, short-sighted, piglet of a country wallowing in a sludge of wasted wealth that were stealing from the future.

The road is chockers with vehicles and everywhere along the highway there is work being done to enlarge it. Huge machinery bulldozing trees and farming lands to make even more lanes. Huge machinery spewing carbon dioxide into the air in order to create even more road space to entice even more cars to spew even more carbon dioxide into an asthmatic atmosphere so that our children, grandchildren and generations after that can choke on the effluent of our so-called prosperity.

It seems surreal. Theres huge denial going on despite the petrol-guzzling monsters lined up along the road with for sale notices on their windscreens.

Maybe thats why the government tells us that we are doing so well (though the reality is obvious to anyone) but allows the education system to fall apart. A recent report indicates that a lot of kids can hardly read.

The government doesnt want a population that can read the facts. Facts about global warming. Facts about the war on terrorism. Facts about the governments complicity in environmental destruction in order to serve its masters.

Even some businesses are waking up from a profit-induced coma. Richard Branson (the Virgin dude) has donated $3 billion to combatting greenhouse gas emissions. Good on him.

The message is dont wait for the government. Its a tiresome hindrance and increasingly irrelevant. Its up to people. And business.

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