17 Group: Marian Wilkinson on The Carbon Club

As already announced in preliminary notices, the first 17 Group Meeting for 2021 will be held next week. After the lifting of the three-day Covid Lockdown, we can go ahead, but you are asked to comply with the Premier’s request that you wear a mask and observe physical distancing at the venue.

This meeting will be held at the usual time of 7 pm, on Wednesday the 7th of April, in the Paddington Workers Club, or as it is now officially known, The Brisbane Workers Community Centre, at 11/2 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington QLD 4064.

We are fortunate to have as our first speaker, Marian Wilkinson, who will be addressing the issues in her recent book The Carbon Club.

Summary of probable themes of the talk:

As the climate crisis threatens more extreme bushfire seasons, droughts and floods, many Australians are demanding their leaders answer the question: ‘Why didn’t you do something?’

The Carbon Club reveals the truth behind Australia’s two decades of climate inaction.  It’s the story of how a loose confederation of influential climate-science sceptics, politicians and business leaders sought to control Australia’s response to the climate crisis.  They shared a fear that dealing with climate change would undermine the nation’s wealth, jobs and competitive advantage—and the power of the carbon club.

Central to their strategy was an international campaign to undermine climate science and the urgency of the climate crisis.  The more the climate crisis was questioned, the more politicians lost the imperative to act.  The sustained success of the carbon club over two decades explains why Australian governments failed to deal with the challenge of climate change.  But at what cost to us and the next generation?

Short biographical notes:

As many of you will already know, Marian studied at U of Q and was a founding member of 4ZZZ.  She went on to work on many major Australian newspapers and media outlets, including Four Corners.  She has gone on to do a lot of ground-breaking investigations and has written several books on major issues of the last twenty or thirty years.  She is incontestably one of the leading investigative journalists in Australia.

Marian will sign copies of her book, which will be available for sale after the meeting.

PS.  If you are able to help in setting up chairs for the meeting or carrying around buckets for small donations to defray the cost of hiring the room, please don’t hesitate to volunteer on the night.

PPS. Although only in the traditionally humbler and smaller Calabri font, and only  at the often disregarded foot of the notice, the question of Leon arises. 

We are pleased to announce that he is back from his year’s quarantine.  You didn’t know?  Here is the story, as he told it to us over vodka:  Leon, as a more fortunate refugee here in the lucky country than he had been in his pre-posthumous days in various unlucky ones, thought it incumbent on him to be tested for the virus.  This was way back in March of last year.  He was cleared of any infection with Covid 19.  But a particularly vigilant official noted the place and date of birth on his documentation, 17 Nov. 1879, Yanovka, Ukraine.  Being a spare-time history buff, (though not enough to recognise one-time commissars) he realised that that probably meant Leon would have been somewhere in greater Russia in 1919, a middle-aged chap kicking around in the midst of an area full of Spanish Flu.  “We don’t have a test for that and there wasn’t a vaccine.  It was worse than this present virus, 500 million  infected, 50 million dead.  You could be a carrier.  You’ll have to be in quarantine.”

Now, Leon, being a lot more posthumous than most people, and inevitably having a rather more complicated relationship to the space-time continuum, found himself in quarantine back in the past and (“How this would have pissed off Josef”, he quipped, ”to quote the pop-song — ‘Back in the USSR’ )”.  So he kicked around there for a year, doing a lot of his old stuff, as per the selfie here:

Anyway, he’s back.  That’s the main thing.  Asked about the topic for our meeting, he told us we should ignore his insensitively Promethean remarks about Nature in his famous 1924 book Literature and Revolution

“Faith merely promises to move mountains; but technology, which takes nothing ‘on faith’, is actually able to cut down mountains and move them. Up to now this was done for industrial purposes (mines) or for railways (tunnels); in the future this will be done on an immeasurably larger scale, according to a general industrial and artistic plan. Man will occupy himself with re-registering mountains and rivers, and will earnestly and repeatedly make improvements in nature. In the end, he will have rebuilt the earth, if not in his own image, at least according to his own taste. We have not the slightest fear that this taste will be bad….”

He was obviously still in a demotic and quoting mood: “But I was so much older then”, he said. “I’m younger than that now”.

But will this get him to the Paddo Workers Club?  Who can tell?

Dan O’Neill
5 April 2021