Why are Greens so unfashionable?
The Greens wishlist is pretty much the wish list of every person in Australia who wants to build a happy life for themselves. From education, hospitals, public transport, renewable energy, sustainable cities to saving our old growth forests so our children can see them, there is not one policy that the Greens have that is not in the heart of every voter in Australia this election (except maybe for miners, Gunns and other pulpers of ancient forests, the road builders and vested interests of similar ilk).
Therefore it seems very strange that in the current Federal election the issue that some 60% voters are supposedly worried about is climate change, yet the Green vote, whilst at all time high, is still only 10%.
Is it because of some kind of misplaced misogyny? That anything to do with caring for mother earth is uncool? That real men, and the women who choose to compete with them, are not really interested in the environment they live in, just pretending in order to get money or power.
The standard conversation that mainstream media and pollies from both Labour and Liberal trot out is that the Greens cannot be trusted with power. That they would be irresponsible, that they would send the country bankrupt. That they are a one issue party that does not have the foresight to govern, that the Greens view of the world is overly simplistic, that the Greens do not know how to compromise.
We have all been hearing this for years, and those of the 'great unwashed' who accept anything that Rupert and his mates and Labour and Liberal pollies tell them, are easily frightened off actually using their vote for change instead of the usual 'shifting chairs on the Titanic'.
Julia Gillard recently announced 10 new 'clean' coal-fired power stations when the whole world knows that we have to reduce our use of coal as an energy source. Is she stark raving mad? We have masses of natural gas, which when used to provide electricity produces a fifth of the emissions as coal, and that does not take into consideration the carbon cost of mining and transporting coal vs drilling and shipping/piping gas.
Another thing with coal is that these power stations are generally close to the coal mines, which are generally a long way from population centres where the electricity is to be used, which means that most of the power produced, up to 80%, gets lost in transmission.
There is also the issue of coal mines destroying fertile farmlands and creating sickness in their vicinity (various cancer rates rocket near coalmines). Then of course there is the emissions of these power plants that the taxpayer will have to pay to ameliorate at some time onver the next 40-50 years of their life cycle. Not the mention the subsidies the taxpayer will have to fund when we realise we have to close those plants down because of international pressure over emissions.
So this makes no sense. HELLO??? Who is there? Does anyone seriously believe that the Greens policy of radically pushing renewable energy would be worse than that? Given that it is cheaper to build renewable power than conventional (see Wind Power Cheap?) and then because there are no costs of input materials, the power is virtually free.
The Greens also had the home insulation scheme (but because it was not made up on the run it woould have been managed better), and has policies regarding schools, education, public transport that every parent and voter interested in the creation of a just, healthy and safe society would support.
The home solar schemes would be ramped up, alleviating the need for some of the fossil fuel power plants. Plus those farmers with marginally fertile land could 'grow' renewable power and supply their locality if the Greens supported subsidies were in place.
Would we all not love to have very fast trains linking our capital cities, and light rail connecting our communities? Too expensive you say, or at least the media says so. Given the truckloads of cash thrown around recently that seem nonsense. And anyway, it is nation building, spending now to not spend in the future. Better than spending billions on new airports, and new roads to service those airports, or similar on coal fired power stations and the infrastructure needed to support them.
We would also be better off, if like the rest of the developed world excluding the US, we had the option of homebirth with all of its advantages, much of which will only come to fruit when the child becomes an adult and the fruits of connection (or disconnection as we see on the streets of our cities every night) are visible. (See Leaving Neverland: why little boys shoud not run corporations by Daniel Prokop for more on this aspect)
So use your vote, stand up for Green policies because ultimately they are the way of the heart.
By Mark O'Brien