We spend a lot of time talking about the renewables nirvana of 2050.
Not only is it an era set in the post-climate apocalypse (as China and India have no intention of reversing their emissions until 2060 at the earliest), but our fields, mountains, and oceans will be covered in a virtuous blanket of spinning blades and scorching silicon.
Our ‘filthy’ Western nations will look like a magazine spread from a Swiss ski lodge. We’ll all be nice, obedient, vegan serfs trudging through the snow on our way to our state-dictated public service jobs. Cogs in the perfect machine. We’ll check-in with the government constantly to make sure we’re making ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ choices.
No emissions. No coal. No resistance. No problem.
Except that by 2050, almost every solar panel, wind turbine, and battery built today will be rotting in landfill.
Strip-mining, open-cut mining, and deep-sea mining will have to be increased dramatically to harvest the raw materials required to build this environmentally friendly future.
Many of these resources are in the ocean, which the world’s nations are in a race to dig up, filter, and pillage for rare earths.
Some of these elements involve the production of toxic sludge and heavy metals infinitely more destructive than traditional coal mining.
And you still need those coal mines to smelt the huge quantities of steel along with all that fossil fuel required to drive the mining equipment.
We don’t have enough raw material to build the renewable grid once, let alone replace it five times every century.
A lot of this mining is done in the third world, either with substandard or non-existent environmental practices or child labour.
We’ll also be covering portions of desperately needed agricultural land, creating a food shortage. But don’t worry, we might be able to eat some of the wind turbines.
And it’s only rare eagles, endangered sea-birds, bats, and other winged-wildlife that finds itself hacked to pieces in the blades of turbines dotted along mountain ranges and onshore breeding grounds.
That all sounds slightly less Utopian.
How many voters gaze at renewables farms and realise that they are destined for the scrap heap before the promised apocalypse? Has it escaped the notice of Teal electorates that not only are emissions going to continue to rise due to our Pacific neighbour, but that a communist nation will control the future of Western energy security?
These decisions, made out of virtue, have consequences.
Miracles are manufactured. Dumb luck and a ‘she’ll be right’ mantra will not carry Australia through economic misadventure and China’s rise in the Pacific.
Contrary to legend, this nation was not born out of apathy. Our survival as a colony was a meticulously planned affair that endured on the sheer insistence of determined minds. These people, whose contribution to our story remains largely unwrit and long forgotten, saw us an orphan of the Commonwealth, stitched to the edge of a perilous world surrounded by inconsistent friends. To survive, Australia had to amass independent wealth before we were scuttled by greater powers.
Money and wealth differ subtly.
Money is a transitory bank balance, but wealth is a national asset that requires infrastructure and industry that cannot be easily taken. Its currency changes. Once counted in pounds of wool, it now lingers as a whisper in our mine shafts. These survivors are under attack by globalist movements who want us dependent on an entity that subverts the quagmire of United Nations treaties by pretending to be ‘Third World’. Benefactors who cheered limitless Chinese investment forgot that when we sold off our limbs, China purchased the right to hold us down. This is the ultimate act of foreign interference, which is why it is forbidden by sensible nations with a healthy scepticism of their neighbours.
Australia has no choice but to unpick these bindings.
If revolution is in the air, ours will be one of sleeping machines. We are a land of tombs. Our power stations rot as rubble corpses behind barbed wire. Empty factories linger in cities, coated in graffiti or transformed into studio apartments to house the ever-expanding population. In past eras, a surging labour force encouraged consumers which in turn, pushed prosperity. This equation only works if you are creating what you sell. These days, immigration is a form of spreadsheet witchery inside Treasury, masking hollow ground. We spend. China creates. The scales are tilted very slightly against us in such a way that it has taken decades to notice the gradual impoverishing of the individual.
There was no defining point when Australia agreed to a pilot-fish future with China. Our wealth was lost one trade deal at a time, sledge-hammered by governments and businessmen. This erosion of financial independence now looks like Collaroy beach after a storm with bits of rotted foundation exposed to the sea. Politicians can no longer deny that we have a structural problem or that more storms are coming. That said, we are not a doomed country destined to suffer at the behest of China’s inevitable dominance. We were always more of a Romeo than a Canute – freely choosing the seduction of easy money despite having other options.
Whether it was an admiration for their version of revolution, cultural discipline or surge to dominance, it’s not a good idea to remain infatuated with a dragon that is more likely to eat us than rear our interest as a pet. Its years of upheaval are far from over with the Communist Party of China’s struggle between despotism and privilege festering through a surveilled society that jealously watches our freedoms. The pandemic was a nightmare of its own making that threatens to undermine deeply secret politics and stir global vengeance headed by the United States that, quite rightly, intends to punish the regime. Xi Jinping’s guilt and Trump’s outrage will define Australia’s trading future.
We have no idea what the terms of this new world will look like, but Australia’s social fabric is less mysterious. Revolutions are primarily tools of the poor emerging to avenge injustice. This makes the conversation a little awkward for Australia, whose cage-approach to the pandemic has left an almighty mess of unemployment and ruination. Urgency demands that we change something about the economics of our civilisation, but how do we evolve and remain free? We are not the type of nation to rip apart our body and shed it in a horrifying metamorphosis like the French.
Remember that the evolution of human politics is imperfect. We often lack the tools required to create our utopia and so we survive through a process of over-correction, tossing ourselves from one violence to the next. What Australia needs is a revolution of thought but one without, as John McManners put it, ‘a great destruction, of a fatal – compulsive web of disasters, of an abyss between the old society and the new’.
We want manufacturing without serfdom and independence without war.
To do this, we must ignore the shouts of excited Marxists who have turned rabid at the scent of misfortune. Our problem isn’t with democracy or capitalism, nor is the answer a sacrifice of liberty. Today’s inequality is not an internal class struggle but rather one between nations. China’s factories inhabit a privileged tier, operating on an unattainable set of rules. Australia has no ability to influence this manufacturing supremacy because we refuse to treat our workers like slaves or cut corners into circles. Regardless, to regain self-sufficiency we have to find a way to play the game.
Price will always be a hard demon to exorcise but China’s reveal as an existential threat can be used to our advantage and encourage a rejection of borderless free trade ideology rampant in the previous century. There is no point being coy about what we intend to do. Politicians are wrong to think that their schemes disguise their plots. Better then to use our intent as a mechanism to drive the nation toward its goal. If we are to achieve any ground in this struggle, our leaders cannot lose sight of where we are and what we want. China enjoys the discipline of direction under dynastic-communism.
Vision is the strength of totalitarians but democracies must find consistency of thought within themselves; a harder but more stable force that, if engaged, can move the tide.
Survival is noise.
Success is activity.
It is time to revel in our natural assets and ignore guilt-wracked moral superiors who refuse to allow the achievements of today to rise above the perceived sins of those who lived and died before our country was born. In this, we are weighed down by ghosts, drowning in a featureless darkness that has no purpose other than to lift our competitors above us. If you want a better world, you have cut the chains and build it for yourself.