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Carbon:How low can we go?

On my other blog existence I have posted a PowerPoint like video on Low energy lifestyle lessons from Cuba.

I've watched it once and I'm going to go back for another squiz. The producer and commentator, Pat Murphy, comes from a tradition of alternative green lifestyle activism -- a current that is not always geared toward big issues, preferring to act locally to think globally. But Murphy is serious about the sort of advocacy he has embraced and has tackled the big issues with a fascinating attention to detail. Always keen for a good example, he promotes the Cuban experience without gloss or rhetoric.

In fact, it's the sort of engagement that Murphy has addressed Cuba with that we need at the (excuse this terrible pun) coal face here and now if we are to stifle further climate change. Suddenly socialism has got to be very practicable and hands on.

With this imperative to strip our arguments of abstractions there's a new and exciting discourse that is developing between greens and reds that fortunately is premised by a considered humility.

Once we agree about where we have to go in way of lowering carbon emissions and defer to whoever is cognizant with the physics, chemistry and biology involved, then the unavoidable question is: how can we get there?

The Cuban experience is so very relevant -- not only because it is formatted by a socialistic mode -- but that it had to be negotiated within a very short period of time & within the confines of an economy still warped by Third World underdevelopment as well as the brutal US boycott and embago.

So you have to say that if 11 million Cubans can go green within the space of less than ten years -- how are we going to do it, given that we too have no other option than to follow suit by a route of our own choosing and engineering?

[And in negotiating that quest, is our capitalism an advantage or a massive obstacle?]

One of the delightful ironies of the Cuban experience was that at the level of regional towns and the capital, Havana, the Cubans have made creative use of the methodology of Permaculture which is a design system developed by Tasmanian, Bill Mollison.

I've planned and planted in Permaculture mode and it's an interesting use of space and biomass. I doubt that the Permaculture community could ever have envisaged that their methods would be adopted on such a massive scale as they have been in Cuba. The Permaculture logic underpins so much of the agricultural economy of Cuba today but here in Australia, it is usually employed as a way to grow stuff in domesticated isolation on your suburban block or as a means to plant out your "tree change"*.

To my knowledge, and I know that there has been discussions with some local authorities concerned, no level of government here has embraced Permaculture as an environmental principle to enrich the town, city or regional plan. Where exhibition experiments have occurred such as at Crystal Waters on Queensland's Sunshine Coast -- these have been neglected as markers for what could be achieved elsewhere. And unfortunately, Crystal Waters replicates the sort of ownership principles that format all real estate in Australia outside of Indigenous land rights. So it's not 'socialism" but an isolated design niche constrained by the real estate market.

In fact, despite the greening of some councils -- eg: Brisbane and Melbourne are now crowing about their future carbon neutral status -- we have hardly begun to engineer the type of changes that are required at almost any level of government and this is primarily because we are still being held hostage to capitalism...and the core ideologues th of the last two decades: "small government", "economic rationalism" and "free market forces."

A sort of prissy chitchat is being followed that assumes that we can consume ourselves out of this crisis by allowing the market to contain carbon in a way it has never done so before. Indeed to play along, carbon itself is marketed and traded as though such Malthusian logic is the only way to proceed.

If you think we're screwed, I'd agree. So the core question I think is this:How many ways is there to go green? We know that there is the socialist way -- as we can see is happening in Cuba and Venezuela. But what others are on offer that work? And I mean that they have to work for millions of people to attain the sort of emission levels we know we must reach in the narrow time frame we have left.

And if we are to be asked to wait while other options pan out -- how long are we supposed to wait while they are supposed to kick in?

* tree change: is a term developed from "sea change" which covers the demographic of people moving from the city to the country or the sea side in pursuit of a better and more relaxed lifestyle.

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