Like a 2 pack-a-day man, who's been told by his doctor to quit, Australia has been in denial.
Smoke from coal plants, and other pollution has been pluming from Aussie smokestacks throughout history, and we don't want to hear that its bad for us.
But guess, what its killing us. The image left is from a 2008 article I wrote about how strong government action on energy and climate change was urgent to counter what polluters were doing to us.
In February 2010 I wrote here on this blog about how climate change would bring significant increases in the incidence of floods, droughts, heat waves and wildfiresJust a year later, flooding in my city of Brisbane, caused death and devastation. These news shots are of an area in Milton, just 15 minutes walk from my home.
Images from Brisbane's 4BC News during Jan 2011 floods.
This was a year after deadly wildfires and heatwaves in 2009. Now flooding has swept through the Brisbane valley, killing and destroying property, ruining lives and wrecking livelihoods.
We've been told. But we didn't want to listen.
As I explained in my article in mid-2009, the pollution lobby is paying for expensive think tanks and "conferences" to throw up a smoke-screen in front of their activities. And the Idiocracy that passes for our political system has been drinking this kool-aid by the gallon.
Somehow we've suspected that all this smoke was bad, but the pollution lobby - like the tobacco lobby of 20 years ago - has been there to provide us with ready made plausible denial. And we believed it because it was more comfortable to believe that what we'd been doing so far was some how OK, than to believe we'd been wrecking the world we are leaving for our children for our own profits.
The floods and fires we have seen are like the first few spots of blood on that inveterate smokers white handkerchief. This is just the early warning.
We asked "how long before it causes real damage?"
"What can we get away with?"
Well, you know what? I've been writing this blog, about the things we can do about climate change - using public transport, using non-polluting vehicles, looking out for what we are doing to the planet - for going on 5 years now. In that time I have seen more evidence of the violent damage that polluting practices can do to our planet, than I could ever write in a blog.
Our scientists have been telling us. So what do we do? Keep going until we can find another scientist who will tell us what we want to hear.
Every smoke-stack, every tail-pipe is doing us damage. Every day.
Now. We have to stop now.
The BP oil disaster off the shores of the USA, cyclones, fires and floods killing so many. In Australia we were lucky, floods in Brazil earlier this year were worse:
This is recent history. How soon will we forget?
Right through history tycoons have profited by pressuring or paying their political cronies into allowing them to plunder our futures. In previous blog posts here I have written about how in 1949 shell companies formed by Standard Oil, and Firestone Tire & Rubber tore up and burned the electric trams of US cities.
How could they - that must have been illegal, you ask? It was, and they were charged in court, and convicted of it (read the article) - a tiny slap on the hand, as they went on to cover the US with gas stations and highways.
Those same tycoons are doing their stuff now. Duping and dealing with our politicians in order to get just one more, two more, another years worth of quarterly profit reports up and into their bonus cheques.
So what can we do? Its all hopeless then?
No its not. Yes, its a gloomy message. Yes, its not news we want to hear.
Use recycled shopping bags and take the bus or pushbike to work? Yes - do those things. However the scale of pollutions from corporates is undoing that good work faster than we can fix it.
But there are things we can do to tell our politicians that we have the will, to start to fix this mess. We can tell politicians - since there are those that have the guts to fight for this - that we are are behind them.
Here's what I do - support GetUp.org.au campaigns to counter the pollution lobby.
GetUp.org.au has recently claimed a big success in re-instantiating a government programme to build power stations using solar energy, and to instead get the required funding for the flood rebuilding from subsidies to the polluters. Movements like GetUp's Solar Flagship programme are galvanizing an Australian public who are sick of being dictated to by the captains of industry who enjoy far too much access to the corridors of politial power.
If you don't like the idea of organisations like GetUp, then get personal: do it yourself. Learn, research, become informed - and then write to the MP's and politicians. Use the internet, the phone or write letters. Or even blog posts.
But whatever you do, don't forget the 2011 floods.