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Well, the election has finally been announced. Prime Minister Howard drew the first blood by announcing a massive tax cut. Sound familiar? Current government policies are so reflective of the Bush administration that listening to political cant here is almost like being in the U.S. On the other hand, I see reflections of my other country, too — Canada.

This is a resource based economy. It is doing very well, thank you. As Tim Colebatch of “The Age” pointed out in a recent editorial, it is all because of China. These are boom times for economies the world over. Australia is doing particularly well because of China’s demand for iron ore and coal. China is building a city of a million inhabitants every month. The woods of Tasmania are being raped so the Japanese can make more paper.

Canada is booming because its extensive deposits of minerals and the extraction of oil sands out in Alberta. They will make holes in the landscape visible from the moon. All to fuel the automobiles of its voracious next door neighbor as well new ones being built in China.

Both countries are living in the short term, ignoring their future citizens in favor of voters who live right now. Their political salesmen (bolstered by economists) seem to believe that economies can thrive with or without an environment. That intelligent people can actually buy into this notion utterly baffles me.

There are alarming projections for global warming in Australia. In just sixty years it could be five degrees hotter and 40 to 80 per cent drier than it is now. The Great Barrier Reef will be dead. A desalinization plant is in the works for Melbourne and the pundits on talk radio are testing the waters on nuclear power plants.

Like Canadians, Australians still earn most of their money hewing wood, drawing water, and attracting tourists. It is starting to dawn on people that even tourism may be in jeopardy here. Some tourists are starting to think twice about dumping carbon into the atmosphere simply to satisfy their curiosity.

The most obvious options for escaping the resource rut seem to have been deliberately neglected.  “Crystalline silicon on glass” was an Australian invention, but Australia (the land of inexhaustible sunshine) lacked the determination and political will to commercialize its invention. In 2004, CSG Solar purchased the rights.  The company is thriving in Germany, leaving Australia where it seems to want to be, in the backwater of the environmental marketplace.

It is time for a change. Countries such as this one can no longer afford to use up what is left of the planet’s resources to make ends meet, doing nothing to stop the acceleration of global warming. We can’t make the same costly mistakes, over and over until our only home rolls over one last time and says, “I give.”

The world can’t afford it.

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