The Problems We Face
This is an opinion piece from Party President, John Perkins. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Party. He apologises in advance to those who may take offence at the sentiments expressed. It is included here as means of promoting debate and freedom of speech.
The world today faces grave problems never before encountered in human existence. Global conflicts caused by religions threaten civil disorder and destruction, such that the continued existence of civilisation as we know it is at risk. In addition, global warming threatens the environment of the planet, portending such disaster to the extent that, again, civilisation as we know it is under threat. No policies currently exist that effectively deal with these problems. Here, some policy directions are outlined that are designed to address these two most critical issues.
In the Middle East, the presumption that Judaic mythology is literal and factual has led to the assertion of territorial claims that have ignited a firestorm of conflict. This has particularly inflamed believers in Islam, which is a religion that its adherents claim originated from the revelations of an angel in a cave. While this is perhaps no more implausible than the doctrines of any other religion, the effects of this religion on its adherents, and on others, is particularly devastating. Not only are all sides are victims of violence due to the religious beliefs of others. They are also victims of their own beliefs.
Adding to this volatile mix, the Christian majority in the most powerful country in the world, the United States, apparently can sometimes still believe that they have a divinely ordained Manifest Destiny to lead the world, and in effect, to rule it. The United States has at times been a great force for good in the world. However the possibility exists that at some time an American leader may believe that he has been divinely chosen to use the world's most powerful military forces to act in accordance with his delusory religious beliefs. The proliferation of nuclear weapons in the world is dangerously wide and the threshold to their use is dangerously low.
Apart from the threat of destruction by nuclear weapons, global society also faces the gradual erosion of the secular values on which it depends. Particularly at risk are the essential pillars of civil liberties and the rule of law. At a time when global rules and co-operation are increasingly necessary, international law, as agreed in United Nations charters and conventions, has been disregarded in the name of national self-interest and the so called "war on terror". In abrogation of its responsibilities of global leadership, perhaps the biggest culprit in this regard was the United States of America.
In this political climate it is perhaps little wonder that the other critical global issue, that of global warming, has received so little attention in terms of the effective and rational proposals for remedial action that it desperately requires. The solution to global conflict requires a solution in the Middle East. The solution to global warming requires that we stop, or at least drastically reduce, the burning of coal.
In a political context, the solutions we offer are ambitious. Many people, even those inclined to secular views, may find them difficult to accept or may even find them emotionally abhorrent, however the issues deserve rational appraisal. If this is done, we are confident that it will be seen that in fact there is no other form of solution possible.
A Middle East solution
It is uncomfortable to refer to religions as delusions, but this is an uncomfortable reality. Beliefs persist in spite of contradiction with facts. Delusions can be harmful. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the Middle East. Archaeological evidence shows that there was no Prophet Abraham and no Exodus. There is no Promised Land and there are no Chosen People.
It seems that in the Middle East, not only is the conflict founded in delusion, but that the solutions commonly proposed are also delusory. This applies to the proposed two-state solution. The so-called road map to peace is in reality a road map to nowhere. This is not just because the conception of a Palestinian state that the current Israeli position would allow amounts to such a limited grant of sovereignty that no responsible Palestinian authority could be reasonably expected to accept. It is because even if a viable independent Palestinian state could have been established, which unfortunate Israeli "facts on the ground" have now prevented, there is simply no way that this would have permanently resolved the underlying grievances.
The Holocaust against Jews was the greatest crime against humanity ever committed in history. Resulting feelings of injustice and guilt led to the formation of the state of Israel. Prior impetus to realisation of the Zionist dream was given by the Balfour declaration and a similar U.S. Congressional resolution which stated in part "it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which should prejudice the civil and religious rights of Christians and all other non-Jewish communities in Palestine". This part of the bargain has never been honoured. The concept of a nation that seeks to define itself in terms of its ethnic or religious identity, as Israel does, is an anachronism and is at variance with universal secular values.
The only possible long-term solution to the Middle East problem, consistent with principles of honesty, compassion, freedom and justice, is a unitary secular state in which all people have equal rights. This will perhaps require a degree of compromise that all sides will find painful to accept. A Jewish homeland does not necessarily require a Jewish state, nor is a Jewish state the best long-term guarantee of Jewish security. In the proposed unitary secular state, no religion should be presumed of superior authenticity and no rights or privileges should be granted on the basis of claimed ethnicity or religious belief.
The primary obstacles in achieving this solution are firstly the Judaic beliefs that presume exclusive territorial entitlement, and secondly the irreconcilable Islamic beliefs that also necessitate superior claims to territory. The key to dissipating this irreconcilability is simply to put forward the proposition, which is impeccably based in reason, that the some of the beliefs on which the conflict is based are false, unnecessary, undesirable, harmful, and based on little more than ancient mythology.
Reason and rationality can prevail over superstition and delusion, and that they must. This may not be as daunting a task as may be supposed. It is not long ago that the addictive and harmful practice of cigarette smoking was considered acceptable, desirable, and was widely promoted and widely practised. More recently, with limitations on promotion and health warnings, the habit of smoking has been greatly reduced. Religion is a similarly harmful addiction but has not been recognised as such. Perversely, it is still widely promoted, encouraged, even enforced.
It is time to reverse this trend wherever possible by promoting reason and secular ideals. Nowhere is this more relevant and necessary than in relation to the issue of Israel and Palestine. Once secular ideals are implemented, the Zionist dream of Israel being "a light to the world", will truly have been achieved.
Only the willfully blind could fail to implicate the divisive force of religion in most, if not all, of the violent enmities of the world today. Without a doubt it is the prime aggravator of the Middle East. Those of us who for years have politely concealed our contempt for the dangerous collective delusion of religion need to stand up and speak out. Things are different now. "All is changed, changed utterly." Richard Dawkins
A solution to global warming
That global warming is upon us and that greenhouse gas emissions are responsible is a proposition that cannot be ignored. The potential for global catastrophe is too great. Scientists warn that world emissions of carbon dioxide need to be reduced by at least 50 per cent to stabilise the climate. Yet even with all proposed measures in place, the best estimate is that global emissions will increase by 50 percent by 2050. That is, the problem is not even remotely being addressed in the manner required.
The solution will be painful and costly which is no doubt part of the reason it has been avoided. Short term thinking, ignorance and cowardice on the part of politicians, local and national self-interest, and the lack of a global ethic are perhaps other reasons. One might also conjecture that, as with religion, susceptibility to mass delusion and inability to face reality might also be a contributing factor.
Most carbon dioxide is produced by the burning of coal and hydrocarbons in industry, transportation and in power generation. There are unfortunately few viable alternatives to using hydrocarbon liquid fuels and gas. In any case supply shortages and rising prices are eventually going to limit their use. We must focus our attention on the use of coal. Most of this is used in power generation. It is here that the greatest potential for substitution may be found. Proposed carbon dioxide emissions trading schemes are inadequate and in any case insufficiently targeted. We need to focus on seeking to eliminate the free burning of coal.
Coal is Australia's primary energy source, and our major export commodity. Coal fired plants produce the cheapest electricity. It is said that with billions of dollars of new investment, coal fired plants can be made more efficient and produce less greenhouse gas. This appears to ignore the basic fact that for every atom of coal (carbon) burned, one molecule of carbon dioxide is produced. No amount of political or commercial spin can alter the basic law of nature embodied in this chemical reaction. No further investment should be made in emitting coal fired plants, and all resources should be devoted to alternatives including nuclear.
The only way to properly address the problem is to impose a tax on the use of coal. This is needed in order to induce reallocation of resources away from coal into other forms of energy production. Japan has already implemented a small tax in this regard. However there is no reason to suppose that any country would unilaterally disadvantage itself to the extent required. Australia is the world's largest coal exporter and will continue to dominate the international coal trade. What is not often considered, is that due to inelastic demand, an export tax on coal would increase national export revenues, not decrease them.
As an interim measure an International Coal Tax should be levied per tonne on internationally traded coal. Given Australia's dominance of the global coal trade, it is incumbent upon Australia to initiate this proposal. The fact that coal is a highly visible commodity will assist implementation. Administratively, the tax could operate in a manner similar to that proposed for the Tobin tax on international currency transactions. An export tax on coal will serve as a precursor to the introduction of a more general global carbon tax.
This tax would operate in addition to proposed trading schemes for carbon dioxide emissions. International agreement may be easier to secure than for general agreements because of the more limited number of exporters involved and because incentive could be provided in that revenues from the International Coal Tax could be used to compensate exporters and to assist them in restructuring their domestic energy production industries. Higher world coal prices would provide incentives for diversification of energy production globally. A similar tax, by agreement, should be applied to coal for domestic use, in all countries. The tax could be introduced at a rate of US$5.00 per tonne of coal, rated by carbon content. (This is equivalent to a tax of about $1.60 per tonne of emitted carbon dioxide.) The tax would then be increased by an additional $5.00 per a year, indefinitely. A proportion of the International Coal Tax revenue would be used to assist developing countries with the required adjustment.
Whatever the eventual details may be, it is obvious that some measures of this kind are required. They will be expensive and initially unpopular. The costs of doing nothing however, in terms of future global climatic catastrophe, may be far higher. In offering reasoned and rational policies, the imperatives of human survival can provide persuasive arguments.
While all forms of renewable energy should be explored, the economics of which would become more viable with a higher coal price, it seems that the global restructuring or energy production world wide will be impossible without increased deployment of nuclear energy. The reason that Australia, per capita, has the highest per capita production of green house gasses in the world is because we do not have any nuclear power plants. Anomalously, we are a major uranium exporter. Like it or not, we must investigate the commissioning of the construction of nuclear power plants, as a matter of urgency.
Effectively dealing with the problem of global warming will likely require an international mobilisation of resources never before seen in peacetime. It will require an unprecedented level of goodwill and co-operation. This will not be achieved without the active promotion of a global ethic based on the universal values of compassion, honesty, freedom and justice. Instead the world is currently preoccupied with conflicts based on ancient religious ideologies that should have been confined to the dustbin of history centuries ago.
Few,even among climate scientists and ecologists, seem yet to realise fully the potential severity, or the imminence, of catastrophic global disaster; understanding is still in the conscious mind alone and not yet the visceral reaction of fear. We lack an intuitive sense, an instinct, that tells us when Gaia is in danger. James LovelockJoin us today