Australia, Community, Environment, Mental Health

Corona Fallout

When I looked at the stats for countries being hit with this pandemic, it struck me as surprising that the number of cases/deaths due to Covid 19, in some places, did not correlate proportionately with the level of population.

It would be easy to assume hygiene levels and santization practices might be lower in underdeveloped countries, as compared to say, Australia. And that spread of disease would be faster. In countries with higher levels of health care, the contagion might have been anticipated to be slower. This does not appear to be the cases if you look at the current statistics. Places like Malaysia and Thailand, are doing remarkably well, with a small number of Covid 19 cases, in regions with populations far greater than others. Why? Is it their level of preventative measures?

Here are the current stats country by country, if you are interested.

Why is Covid-19 so prevalent in Italy?

Then there is Italy – why do they have so many Covid cases? Some suggest that many Chinese and other businessmen, have been visiting the north of Italy, in greater numbers of recent times.

Starting in Codogno, a small town in southern Lombardy, one of the wealthiest, most densely populated, and most globalized areas in Europe, the coronavirus circulated very fast and easily…. The Codogno economic district hosts large companies and multinationals – making it a hub for production and international trade. Workers, salesmen, managers, and consultants of all sorts travel daily to their workplace, many of them commuting to nearby cities. International partners visit from abroad. And of course, Milan is a mere 70 kilometer drive from Codogno. Although “patient zero” has not been found yet, it looks increasingly likely that the virus had been circulating in Europe weeks before “patient one” was identified in late February.

https://thediplomat.com/2020/03/covid-19-hits-italy-a-test-for-china-ties/
singapore

Singapore

Singapore, to its immense credit, appears to be managing the crisis well. They were well prepared, quickly instituting pro-active measures after having previously learnt valuable lessons in pandemic management, during the SARS outbreak.

A New World Order?

The current crisis highlights just how connected and how vulnerable we, as a society are. Our financial and business sectors, recreation and travel mean a contagion can and does travel fast and far, throughout the entire world. Not even in a small village in Iceland are you safe, from this virus. Whether we care to admit it or night, we do live in a global village. We can no longer live and conduct affairs without considering the rest of the world.

iceland

The economies of the Western developed countries are suffering, just as China is beginning to recover. Many Western democracies, including mine, will inevitably head into a deep economic recession, in coming months. We need to have in place new and different strategies and policies for business, health care, education and technology in order to appropriately respond to this contagion.

Some Chinese communities are questioning whether they should move back to China, from their new bases in Italy. What effect would this have?

“About 100,000 people from Wenzhou, and another 100,000 from nearby Qingtian county, live in Italy, according to official Chinese data, with Milan also hosting a sizable Chinese community. “We definitely feel safer in China. The government is more efficient … Hospitals here can treat patients well, but the government’s ability to respond to an emergency is not ideal,” Wu said.”

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/3073987/stay-or-go-tough-call-chinese-italy-coronavirus-crisis-hits

The social fallout from this virus also highlights the disparity between European countries, with high levels of health care against the economic might of America, who has almost no universal health care. [Let me know if this is wrong].

I wonder why Universities and Schools are only now moving to E-learning in response to the viral threat. Why didn’t the education facilities, fully implement this mode of delivery, earlier? Can I attribute the reason to their penchant for keeping a social interactive community on university campuses alive? Wouldn’t E-learning be far more profitable to them?

Climate Conspiracy?

If I believed in conspiracy theories, which I don’t, my cynical self would also suggest that the release of the virus, if it was deliberate, is a discrete way to circumvent and divert debate and action, on action against climate change.

Continuing and ever increasing school strikes successfully highlighted issues of climate change. Now that schools are closed in many countries, except Australia, the strikes cannot happen.

Moreover, we cannot gather in groups of more than 100 in Australia. Some countries ban gatherings of less than 50, and in Portugal, gatherings must be less than 5 persons.

Food and Job Security

Adding to this, is the issue of global food security. The shops across the world are emptying, and people are staying home, for the most part. Food is becoming harder to obtain. If transport is halted, how do we all access food?

Many have already lost their employment or will lose it in coming months. Many will become homeless or develop mental health issues.

How Fragile is our existing World Order?

leaves

A Positive Effect

If there is one postive to be found in self-imposed isolation or government quarantine and in business shut-down and potential failure, it is that some parts of the planet and nature, get a break from human intervention and destruction.

  • Global rainforests may not get burnt this week.
  • Fewer carbon emissions from reduced transport services.
  • That precious koala habitat may not get cleared/logged this week.
  • Industries may refraim from discharging their poisonous effluent into the sea this week, due to shutdowns.
  • The lake near my Home by the Sea might not have pieces of plastic litter from building supplies contaminating it this week. {we are on track so far}
  • People may re-discover making ends meet – growing their own food, cooking for themselves, entertaining at home, chatting with family.

In short: we get a chance to pause and breathe too.

Australia, Community, Motivational, Philosophy

The Future of Australia

This is Australia, a continent not ravaged by war, disease or famine.

A country rich in resources and a friendly open public.

It should be a vanguard for a successful democracy, shouldn’t it?

distortion effect

Australia in 2020

A wobbly renewable energy sector,

Over-reliance of exports of raw materials,

A powerful and corrupt financial sector,

A struggling research and tech industry.

Environmental devastation from natural disasters,

Bushfire, drought and cheap imports.

Declining export markets and competitiveness.

Decreasing full time unemployment and

increasing casualization of the workforce.

It all sounds like a bit like a third world country, but it isn’t.

This is Australia!

And it might be a recipe for economic and environmental disaster.

The Tyranny of Distance

rural australia

Many companies find trading in Australia logistically difficult, due to the ‘tyranny of distance’. We are, after all, stuck right down the bottom of the planet, on the way to nowhere except perhaps New Zealand and Antarctica, and not too many companies head to the southern continent. (No offence there to my Kiwi rellies intended).

In order to stay competitive, Australian companies might decide to decrease production costs, and one popular method of achieving this is reducing staff. Any profits made via increased productivity, is then divided up amongst shareholders. So there is not much incentive to hold onto staff.

Offshore Corporate Relocation

Companies that formerly hired Australians in varying sectors of the economy have, in the last decade, moved company operations off-shore, to a cheaper labour market in Asia, Bangladesh or India.

The result: Lower quality control, poorer reliability and worst of all: – less jobs in Australia! Not only is there less job vacancies, there are less permanent full time jobs – with the end result being a workforce that is highly casualized and contractual. That sure doesn’t help economic stability.

The solar energy industry and the Green movements are not to blame, yet that seems to be the mantra from conservative politicians and mining companies magnates. The country has became so very much dependant on them, that it is their voices that now carry weight over any others.

Agricultural Industry

The agriculture and animal farming industries are in constant decline too, with perhaps the worst, yet to be experienced, as we feel the full brunt of the aftermath of the bushfires and the Chinese slowdown.

Sheep Merino wool Mt Cook
splitting the mob

Australia grew up on the “sheep’s back.” That is, we sold wool and wheat to the world. But as the third world develops along western lines, Australian products have become far too expensive, and we have to add in long and expensive hours of transport, from this corner of the planet. Thus, Aussie products are no longer selling well, and there is nothing yet to replace that.

Except mining.

This gives the mining companies so much power to influence public policy and push their own agenda, to politicians.

We have a non- existent manufacturing sector – what we did have already disappeared overseas. The banks and mines and perhaps, housing construction are the only thing keeping our economy going and thus, our current standard of living.

Is this enough to maintain our current standard of living into the future?

“… the old cargo cult mentality of Australia that she’ll be right.

Paul Keating Former P.M and Treasurer

Education in the form of mostly Asian fee-paying students, is the only other small growth area in the economy, and wholly depends on Australia’s immigration policy towards foreigner students.

Universal Compulsory Voting

The outlook seems bleak, and even more so, as the majority of people do not realize the long term implications for our country. They appear easily swayed by sweet talking politicians.

Politicians with a complex and well thought through economic plan did not seem to find favor in the electorate at the last election.

Franking Credit Scheme

The Government pays out an enormous amount of money on public schooling in Australia, and an equivalent amount, is paid out by the Government to shareholder investors, in the form of franking credits for shares. The shareholders get paid a second time by the Government on top of the dividend itself, and the proposed scheme to rein this in, was complex.

Dividends are paid out of profits which have already been subject to Australian company tax which is currently 30%. This means that shareholders receive a rebate for the tax paid by the company on profits distributed as dividends.You are entitled to receive a credit for any tax the company has paid. If your top tax rate is less than the company’s tax rate, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) will refund you the difference.

http://www.commsec.com.au/education/learn/managing-investments/how-do-franking-credits-work.html

With the Opposition not being able to communicate this properly to the electorate at the last election, meant the incumbent Government hoodwinked voters into believing money was going to be taken off their investments and another new tax imposed!

Emissions Initiatives

Suggestions of introducing Emissions trading schemes have ended many a politician’s career on both sides of politics. The media and oppositions have turned these suggestions in to the popular and false threat of a “new tax,” and the Australia public runs scared.

Voting in Australia

Compulsory voting means these folks who are ill-informed, or who might hear a mere headline or snippet of news from a tabloid source, vote with a knee-jerk reaction. In key electorates, this can make or break a good policy and Government, even though the majority of voters see through this charade.

Photo Credit: i.guim.co.uk

Another example of voter ignorance was the suggestion of introducing a subsidized Electric Car Initiatives to tackle Climate Change and Emissions, which was scoffed at by conservatives who believed, quite incorrectly, that if elected, the party with the Electric car proposal would destroy the Aussie weekend culture, that centres around activities, in the ‘Ute” – (pickup truck)

Solar Power Generation

A country bathed in perpetual sunlight should be the solar powerhouse of the world. We should have our own solar panels in endless production, but instead we import solar panels from colder countries like Canada, Germany and China.

Why?

Because Australia has alway relied heavily on Coal fired power. Dirty Coal. The current Prime Minister loves it so much he brought some into parliament. What a joke!

Apparently it is cheaper to pollute the planet, than support Australian jobs and industry. In fact, the coal mining lobby is so widespread and so powerful, it spreads so many lies and falsehoods about solar power generation, it is scandalous. And the naive voters lap this up and spit it back at backyard barbeques to other ignorant constituents, who don’t know any better. Closed minds and closed hearts. And these folks vote.

An initial scheme to subsidize the introduction of solar panels in residential homes was SO successful, the government put a stop to it, as the coal industry was feeling the financial pinch and the government was losing royalties paid by mining companies.

Notwithstanding a solution is urgently needed to dispose of used solar panels, why on earth would you not want free, clean, non-polluting energy, I ask?

I’m irritated by the incumbent government and the future of my country. I now question universal suffrage and the abilities of the opposition parties to communicate their policies with the electorate.

Is this where democracy is flawed?

The public votes for short term gains, and not long term benefits for all?

Australia – become informed and think about where your vote goes.

Australia, Community, Environment

Where are you going, Australia?

Australia Day 2020

Today is Australia Day, or if you are a First Nation person, you might call it Invasion Day. Back in 1788, the “First Fleet.” of British ships arrived on Australia’s eastern coast and began establishing a British colony.

The British considered the Australian continent unoccupied – as the indigenous peoples were not considered as a nation in themselves. However wrong this was at the time, it happened and today we still celebrate this day with a public holiday.

pool
We never wore sun protective sun shirts like these kids did!

January 26 in Australia, marks the end of the long summer holidays and that means lots of folks travelling on the roads and lots of pool parties and barbeques.

At a time when the dude from Top Gear is making egotistical comments about Australia, Boris Johnson comments on our ‘resilient spirit.’

Is our country still resilient? When many of us support dirty coal fired power generation? Or deny climate change?

Not all Aussies fully comprehend the gravity of the planet’s situation as they only hear what the media here tells them. The media often fails to give a balanced view!

So,
What can you do, when those who are ignorant or closed to new ideas vote in ignorant fools, because they read and listen to tabloid tripe? It’s a little depressing.

Whilst European economics has its problems, at least they are aiming for better air to breathe, and a better country for their children.

We seem to be taking a longer time to understand the problem.

Great Ocean Road
Port Fairy, South Eastern Victoria, Australia

This Australia Day – take up my challenge and show that Australians can:

  • Read more widely – especially those opinions that you don’t at first agree with – they may have a point of view that resonates somewhere. It can’t hurt you even if you don’t change your opinion – you will just be better informed.
  • Seek out facts to substantiate your opinion. The Radio and TV commentators might be and often are misinformed or wrong.
  • Discuss this with your friends and listen to feedback.
  • Challenge long held beliefs – the world is changing.
schnauzer dog reading
Even my Schnauzer was interested in books

Don’t get left behind, Australia.

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Community, Environment

The Future of Australia


Recently I had a discussion with another blogger and it highlighted to me how the bulk of Australian public opinion appears to differ greatly from the rest of the First World in the North.

Coal and Renewable Energy Sources

Australia could, and should be, a solar energy powerhouse of the world with our almost constant sunlight and extreme lack of rainfall, right?

It is not.

As India and China, the major markets for purchasing Australian coal, move towards solar and renewable energy sources, it makes good economic sense in the long term to utilize a raw material is FREE and infinite.

Early morning sunrise photography

Surely there must be a tipping point at which the Australia coal industry no longer becomes viable, yet some companies and politicians still support expansion of coal fired power generation. Will we see subsidized fossil fuel generation as a way to prop up employment?

Why? When there are alternatives.

The baseload power needed to support solar energy argument doesn’t make sense when it is solar that is putting more energy into the grid at times of peak demand. I am happy to hear otherwise along with hard evidence. Enlighten me.

For decades the coal industry has supplied power to Australian homes and so many jobs, towns and industry are heavily reliant on it. Past and present governments have been reluctant to invest in solar, due to vested interests who benefit from coal making large political donations.

Is it such a good idea to penalise those folk who choose to invest money in solar by making them pay for infrastructure? Infrastructure that actual makes power companies money by tax relief?

photo editing

I would love to see coal industries leading the charge to investing and promoting/converting to solar. Why not? Currently, we import solar cells from countries like – wait for it – Canada, Italy China and Germany! Canada and Germany are not exactly renowned as warm weather countries are they?

What madness is this?

Prior to moving to our Home by the Sea, we had a wonderful solar system with German solar panels, and Italian inverter and expertly installed by an Australian small business – providing jobs to Australia.

Original colour photo

Five years later, that same company had to close its doors and sack workers because the government initiated moves that caused extreme business uncertainty for companies in the Solar and Renewable energy sector, by reducing the incentives to Australian solar energy customers, thereby assisting the coal industry to further entrench reliance on itself by the energy grid and the monopoly they have enjoyed for years.

monochrome

Pariochial Thinking and Media Control

Foreigners often direct criticism at Americans for having “blinkers” and closed thinking. Meaning that they seem to have a lack of awareness of external issues, due to their media focus on internal matters. However Australians may also be guilty of inward thinking and thus, are far removed from the levels of environmental awareness and action found in the many parts of Europe, where using dirty coal is regarded with much derision. For example: Finland

Yet our Prime Minister seems certain burning coal is still kosher!

Be a leader!

Be Bold, Mr Morrison, P.M of Australia.

Have a vision for your country moving forward for the sake of your children!

Stand up to the Media Moghuls and radio shock jocks who claim they dictate Australian public policy and public opinion!

“We are striking because we have done our homework, and they have not.” – Greta Thunberg

Climate protest in Hamburg, Germany, 1 March 2019

I hear vehement criticism of Greta Thunberg in the hair salons and in the cafes and even by Australians, at backyard barbeques. It utterly shocks me that many Australians think she is some kind of spoilt child throwing an environmentally themed tantrum.

What has happened to my countrymen that they can be so narrow-minded as to criticize and poke fun at a child with a wish for a better future?

Time magazine didn’t think she was a climate brat; they nominated her as their person of the year for 2019.

Australians who deride Greta Thunberg, a child with a vision and the guts to speak out, disgust me, but then I think perhaps they have not had an opportunity to hear another opinion and don’t have the smarts to listen to information sources that are not mainstream.

bank climate change

How does one get through to this sector of the population if the media is so regulated by powerful self-serving interests?

The ageing population here is a hard line conservative group who favour stoic right wing governing with a touch of xenophobia. Compounding this and disappointingly, there seems to be a political swing away from the green movement by the middle income, middle aged voting cohorts. And this is happening when the young folk are much more environmentally aware than any of my peers.

Employment

Is it uncertainty over job security that drives this? Australia has always been so reliant on exporting its raw materials, that is has no manufacturing base to speak of. Research and the IT industry was beginning to develop until it was all but destroyed by government cutbacks.

computer
CC0 Creative Commons

I am unsure why.

On our final day of this decade, open your minds to new possibilities and new solutions, and cast away the hard line thinking of the past.

Happy New Year World.

A New Dawn is approaching.

Community

Holidays and Church whilst Australia Burns

In case you are not aware, the head of our country has taken himself on holiday. He is out of contact – although supposedly still being sent daily briefings.

There would normally be nothing at all wrong with that, except that there is a national crisis – we have had months of bushfires burning through swathes of country to unprecedented levels.

And the head of our country is nowhere to be seen and remains silent.

Where am I

Or is he?

Some say he deserves some quiet time with his family at Xmas. I agree, but if you are elected leader of a country, are you not on standby, 24 hours a day, seven days a week?

Would you not want to support your people in a time of crisis?

Nurses, Doctors, Hotel Housekeepers, hell even Taxi drivers have to work over Christmas, so why not the leader of our country? Someone that has given himself a big fat pay rise of late, when the rest of Australia waits six or more years for a pay rise. Six years.

Some say the P.M. has gone to New York to open a Hillsong church there – his faith is admirable, but how is this more relevant than our country?

Wellington church

Is he serving our country to the best of his ability or massaging his own ego?

Over 800 folks have lost their homes to fire in the last months. Rural fire Service folks, often volunteers themselves, have not had a day off in months. They are soent, exhausted and get NO pay, but the P.M. is entitled to a holiday, on full pay to open a church in New York?

It makes my blood boil!

I was discussing this with another blogger, Snow on her blog who wondered why we can’t boot him out of his job for this. We can’t kick him out as he hasn’t done anything wrong – legally. Morally – yes, there is an error in his judgement, however, he enjoys the full support of his cabinet ministers, so any repercussion is unlikely.

This is the same Prime minister who brought a lump of coal into parliament to show his support for maintaining coal fired power generation sources!

https://www.theguardian.com/global/video/2017/feb/09/scott-morrison-brings-a-chunk-of-coal-into-parliament-video


His government believes coalfired power is still the way forward because it is so very cheap to produce here and supports lots of jobs.

But the shift in public opinion is building. The youth in Australia want action on Climate change and they know burning fossil fuels is not good for our planet.

In the meantime, the only thing burning at the moment is Australia and Australian homes. And the #AussieNero sits idly by.

Smoke alarms are being triggered in our nation’s capital, Canberra, such is the poor air quality from bushfires.

Sydney suffers with a constant smoke haze and I can even smell it up here in the North, 800 km away.

Last year, the Amazon and Columbia suffered through many fires. The land in many areas is becoming drier and the rainfall is dimishing. This year, even the Monsoon rains in Indonesia have not yet arrived.

With lower rainfall, the soil becomes ignited far more easily from a stray cigarette butt, or a deliberate back burning off operation, or other accidental or deliberate causes.

The high winds that accompany climate changes fans any bushfires to catastrophic levels.

And the rainfall needed to saturate the ground does not come.

Here is a recent map of the fires across Australia from abc.net.au

And still the P.M. is silent. I hope the New Yorkers realize the price our country is paying.

Perhaps they might even say a prayer.

Well may we say, #wherethebloodyhellareyou Mr Morrison.

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Community

Sunday Sayings – Our Environment Let’s change the World

Climate change is an important issue that each of us can contribute to increasing awareness about, through our photography and posts. So today, on Sunday sayings, I explore several environmental quotes that resonate with me. We can make a difference in our daily practices wherever we how in the world, however we live.

Do you know how?

Friendly-friday-photo-climate

One planet, one experiment

– Edward O. Wilson

We have been showcasing photos on our interpretation of climate change on Friendly-friday-photo, a weekly photo challenge on WordPress.

[If you wish to join in see more Friendly Friday.]

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader.

Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned.

Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Join in the discussion by leaving a comment.

Everyone’s opinion is important. What is yours?

Something serious to ponder about.

#OneWorld Let’s change it.

Community

Friendly Friday Photo – Climate Change

1984 – contemplating the Environment

1984 – Australia.

A skinny slip of a girl was studying the Environment at University. She learnt about planet earth and how fragile it was; how global temperature might rise at least 2- 3 degrees, and how this warming might lead to cataclysmic and irreversible ramifications for life, on earth.

Rainbows could be a thing of the past in some parts of Australia

That student also learnt how inland river systems were polluted by effluent from cities and how excessive irrigation for agricultural crops led to saline soils and dying river systems, in this the driest continent, on earth. She learnt how her country would begin to experience more drought, wild weather events, fire and more hardship on the land in coming decades.

Rivers break their banks in extreme weather events

Furthermore, she read how scientists detected die-back and bleaching of coral in the Great Barrier Reef due to run-off of fertilizers draining down from agricultural land into the sea, during rains.

She learnt how everything in the natural world is interconnected.

If one part of the ecosystem breaks down, or disappears, it has a deleterious domino effect on other parts, with potential species extinction and irreversible damage to nature.

She learnt along with rising sea levels, that there is not a single species in the ocean without plastic materials in its gut; that fisheries are disappearing and that the only marine species flourishing in the alkaline marine environment is Jellyfish.

In University classes, she discussed how we as humans, along with other predatory species will feel the concentrated effects of endocrine disrupting petrochemicals and accumulated pesticides. And that we might see evidence of this first in plants, second in animals that feed on those plants, and lastly in us, the carnivores that eat the animals, because we are at the top of the food chain.

Everything is connected.

disposable plastic
Plastic washed up on beaches
green tree frog

She learnt that frogs are a good indicator of the health of the environment and that frogs and bee numbers are dwindling.

The student then learnt about the hole in the ozone layer and how the polar ice sheets could melt resulting in a rise in sea levels; meaning some low lying countries will become uninhabitable.

Rising sea levels could threaten low lying coastal communities

For this student, who had grown up in the shadow of potential nuclear extermination in the Cold War era, soon realized an even bigger threat to the planet was, in fact, man himself.

Checkpoint Charlie – a hot spot in the Cold War

What kind of world would her potential future children be gifted with?

She left her work in the environment field as she could not bear to hear it any more.

artsy photo
Looking outwards, not inwards

Now no longer a student, but a Mother, that women began to facilitate and promote environmentally friendly practices in her own circle. She spoke about her concerns with friends, family and her wider community, and slowly changed attitudes of those around her, and increased awareness, in her own microcosm.

seal kiss

That former student learnt that education and knowledge can be a powerful vanguard for change in community thinking and ultimately, in the halls of government. The student, who had read so much gloom and doom in her University years, also learnt that there is HOPE.

Slowly, as temperatures began to rise, folks began to know the world was indeed a finite place and could no longer absorb man’s destructive ways.

Sustainable practices, solar and wind power and recycling became mainstream. Single use plastic bags were banned or minimized. Threatened forests and animals were protected and land clearing practices examined in terms of their biodiversity loss or environmental value. Salinity in rivers and streams began to be addressed and is now understood as both a threat and a challenge.

And the public started to realize that Climate Change is real.

Friendly Friday Photo challenge

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge will have a new weekly prompt next week here on Something to Ponder About. Thanks ever so much to my co-host TheSnowMeltsSomewhere for her Friendly Friday Climate Change prompt.


Please check the comment section on her post for other entries to this challenge.

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This topic is especially dear to my heart and in highlighting this issue through photography, we can also increase awareness. I will pop down from my soap box now.

Amanda

#OneWorld Let’s change it!