Who cares?

Contents of this page

Who cares enough for our beautiful shared planet to try to reduce their personal impact on it?

Who cares enough to try to fix a few of the problems that we see all around us?

Who cares enough to try to oppose those who are actively damaging our planet?

While there are certainly many who do care greatly, there seem to be far more who are not willing to make any effort at all. And, of course, there are those, not so few, who actively rubbish the environment that we share with all life on Earth.

This page was started 2024/01/09, last edited 2024/03/07
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©


Climate change and related problems together with the degradation of our shared environment are the greatest threats to the future of humanity, the biosphere and the Earth. We are facing one of the greatest mass extinctions in the Earth's 4.5 billion year history, with enormous losses of biodiversity. We are loading our land and waters with steadily increasing amounts of rubbish. New chemicals are being developed all the time; if they prove to be of use they are produced in bulk, with very little consideration for the impact they will have when we are finished with them.

But neither governments, businesses, nor the great majority of individual are taking the challenge as seriously as it needs to be taken. In fact, in my experience, most people don't bother changing their behaviour at all.

Below I've written about where we are falling short of what needs to be done, and the fewer cases of where at least some of us have done well.

The consequences of our actions

Picked up on 200m of roadside adjacent my property, 2021/08/07
Roadside rubbish
Many time I've seen someone sitting in a car with the air conditioner and engine running and the windows closed when they would have been quite comfortable just with the windows down so that fresh air could move through the car.

Of course whenever a car engine is running the car is producing carbon dioxide and that is the most important of the greenhouse gasses that is causing climate change.

Then there are the people who throw rubbish out of the windows of their cars. So long as it is only a very few people who do this it's not a big problem, but there are so many people doing it in my local area that the roadsides quickly become unsightly.

In the photo on the right the label on 14 of the throw-away coffee cups was "Proudly using Fleurieu Milk Company". I suggest to the Fleurieu Milk Company that this is no cause for pride. Plainly Fleurieu Milk Company is not the only culprit. The fault is with a number of groups: the manufacturers of the cups, the shops that sell coffee in throw away cups, the irresponsible people who throw the cups onto the roadside, the government for allowing throw away cups at all.

In cases like these I wonder, does the person or people involved not care, or are they simply unaware of the consequences of their actions? Shouldn't we always consider the consequences of our actions?

Our emissions: who cares?

At the time I wrote this page, January 2024, only the stupid or intentionally blind could deny the reality and seriousness of anthropogenic climate change (climate change caused by humanity). Yet every day I see evidence that many people don't care enough to change their behaviour.

Our emissions: The vehicles we drive

4WDs not needed
Six big and heavy 4-wheel-drives and one small fuel-efficient car in the Flinders Ranges. Are the gas-guzzlers needed? Our little car (the Jazz on the left) weighs about half as much and handles the dirt roads with ease. It is also capable of towing up to one tonne.
Use a trailer
The little Mazda 121 is easily capable of towing a half-tonne bale of straw on a trailer
There was an article in the RAC (Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia) journal that I received in early 2024 titled "Why are Aussies 'supersizing' their cars?"

According to the author, Ruth Callaghan, not only are Australian's failing to put our shared environment first and change to smaller and/or more fuel-efficient vehicles, most of them are buying bigger, heavier, fuel guzzling cars.

Australians are spending more money than they need to on their cars, more money than they need to on fuel for their cars, and increasing the emissions that they are personally responsible for at the cost of accelerating climate change.

Our emissions: Unnecessary car engine idling

Unnecessary idling can result in the release of about 2.5 kilograms of CO2 into the atmosphere per hour.

Apart from the emissions and waste of fuel there are several other reasons to not idle an engine for any longer than you need to:

  1. Internal combustion engines don’t lubricate as well while idling as they do at the higher revs when you are driving;
  2. As long as the car engine is idling it is producing, not only CO2, but also other air pollutants. While you are sitting in the idling car you will be breathing in some of these;
  3. Idling your car or truck longer than is necessary causes it to burn more oil. The longer you let your engine run, the more motor oil circulates and burns. That means spending more money on more frequent oil changes;
  4. Burning more oil tends to foul up the engine with incompletely burned residues;
  5. Excessive idling also decreases your car's performance. Given enough time, it can cause deterioration of spark plugs, head gaskets, and cylinder rings;
  6. And lastly, not only is idling a car engine a very inefficient way of generating electricity, it can even drain your car battery.
(Some of the points above may apply to all internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, some may apply to only some cars. I haven't confirmed their truth.)

Downer's car that was pumping CO2 into the air unnecessarily for hours.
Irresponsibly idling car
Photo 2024/01/24
I used to run a computer from my car during field work - without the engine running - with no problems in the remote bush of South Australia.
Computer powered by car battery
Photo about 1995
The car in the photo was on the street across the road from my place for over an hour with the engine running and windows wound up, producing a steady stream of exhaust gasses that would include a substantial amount of carbon dioxide.

After leaving this spot I saw it on a nearby street still with its engine idling.

I thought at first that the engine was running because the occupant wanted to have the air conditioner on, but he informed me that 'he had to run the engine' because he was using a pad or laptop computer. I found this explanation incredible (in the true meaning of the word). And, considering point 6 above, idling may be counter productive for running electrical equipment, it may help drain rather than charge the battery.

At least 25 years earlier I had run a laptop computer from a Subaru Forester, a much smaller car, via an inverter. (The inverter changed the 12V DC from the car to 240V AC to power the computer, which then converted the power back into low voltage DC.) I never had any problems flattening my car battery with this arrangement. Surely a modern pad or laptop would be more energy efficient than my 25 year-old unit, especially considering the inverter being in the old circuit. A modern pad or lap-top computer can run for hours on its own battery and many more hours on a car battery.

The School of Public Health, University of Queensland have a Web page "Switch off your engine, it's not hard: how to cut your fuel bill, clear the air and reduce emissions". It stated that in normal traffic idling can produce from 1% to 8% of total carbon dioxide emissions over the journey. Another site stated that idling for one hour would result in burning about one litre of fuel. My Web page on Some energy units, definitions and conversions provides a calculation indicating that burning of one litre of fuel would emit about 2.5 kg of CO2.

The Downer Group, whose car it was, say on their Web site that "Zero harm to our people, communities and environment is embedded in our culture." Sorry Downer Group, I don't think this is indicating that you are serious about zero harm to the environment.

Who cares? We should all care!

Our emissions: Our choices in touring and holidays

Luxury campervan
You could (if you have enough money) tour in something like this.

And perhaps consume 30 litres of fuel per hundred kilometres (and emitting about 70 kilograms of carbon dioxide per hundred kilometres).

Or you could tow a little tent trailer like this behind a small car and consume 7 litres of fuel per hundred kilometres (and emitting about 16 kilograms of carbon dioxide per hundred kilometres).

Of course, unless you were much hardier than my wife and I, you wouldn't tour for six months with a tent trailer. But for a few weeks at a time, using caravan parks and camp kitchens along the way, it's fine.

This photo was taken at Woomera on our first night's camp during a trip to Coober Pedy.

Animal sign
This is the same tent trailer as above, behind our Honda Jazz, on the Stewart Highway.

The same car towed the camper across Great Dividing Range on the Great Alpine Road with ease on another trip.

This is about minimalism, downsizing everything you possibly can including your impact on the environment.

Our emissions: Public transport

I've noted elsewhere that while travelling by public transport is much less energy intensive than using one's own car, that at least in my community, very few people choose this responsible option.

Of course even better than using public transport is walking or cycling, if that is a practicality for you.

Our emissions: Driving children to school

The average new car in the UK (where cars are smaller and more fuel efficient than Australian cars) emits 120 grams of CO2 per kilometre. So for a 10km round trip to school the emission would be 1.2kg. According to the RAC on average Western Australian cars emit over three quarters of their own weight in CO2 each year.
Many parents unnecessarily drive their children to school even when there are quite viable alternative options. This results in unnecessary expense in vehicle fuel and wear, unnecessary commitment of parent's time, and more importantly, unnecessary greenhouse emissions. Some of the more responsible alternatives are:
  • School busses;
  • Public busses;
  • Bicycling;
  • Walking.
If parents are uncomfortable having their child walk to school alone, perhaps they could walk with their child or have their child walk with others who live nearby and go to the same school. There is what has been called a 'walking bus' in which a number of children are chaperoned by one or more adults. This can be organised formally or informally. (I've written more on walking busses on another page on this site.)

In this age of out of control climate change schools have a responsibility to educate children on how to minimise the emissions that they, and their parents, are responsible for. They have a responsibility to encourage children, and the children's parents, to consider more environmentally responsible alternatives to driving their children to school. School administrations should do everything possible to minimise emissions and to encourage their students and student's parents to do the same.

We can all reduce the emissions we are responsible for by using public transport rather than driving our own cars, but for whatever reasonF Australians seem reluctant to travel by bus. I've written more on this point on another page on this site.

Who cares? We should all care!

Care for our environment

Fleabane in Marlee Reserve (Mandurah north)
Fleabane in Marlee Reserve
This infestation of fleabane was in the western section of Marlee Reserve.
Photographed 2022/11/15, iPhone 11 Pro, standard lens
Where I live there are a number of beautiful parks and reserves. They are being threatened by invasive weeds (see the photo on the right). Yet very few people are willing to make any effort to control the weeds, I know through my own personal experience that the weeds can be controlled, but who cares enough to do it?

Surely we should all contribute where we can, to looking after our communities.

Blood donation

Donating plasma
Blood donation (and plasma and platelet donation) is an area that suggests to me that few people care for their fellow humans. Blood and blood products can and do save lives.

Only about 3% of Australians donate blood or blood products. Donating blood only takes a total of about an hour, it can be done as often as once every three months, while donating plasma takes a little longer and can be done as often as every fortnight.

I've tried to donate as often as I conveniently can for a number of years.

I took the photo while I was donating blood plasma. The plasma goes into the bag on the lower right. The bag at the upper right contains saline solution that is used to replace the volume of the plasma taken.

By early 2024 I had donated about 200 times. Some people have donated over 600 times!

Don't just walk by, do something

A fence partly obstructing a path
Fence encroaching on path
Why, when we see things in a public place that are not as they should be, are we all inclined to just walk by when we could, without a lot of trouble, do something to improve the situation?

We might think something is annoying, could be better, but how often do we perhaps grumble a bit to ourselves, rather than trying to do something to improve the situation. I am reminded of a saying that has been attributed to William L. Watkinson who used it in 1907. It has been adopted as the motto of Amnesty International (hence their emblem of a candle encircled with barbed wire). "It's better to light a candle than to curse the dark."

Thousands of people (including me) walked past the fence in the photo in the more than a year that it has been in place; and they did nothing about it. Many of them (including me) must have been slightly inconvenienced by it, but we probably just grumbled a bit internally and did nothing.

It was not just a minor inconvenience. To pass by anyone with a pram or gopher one had to get off the footpath and onto the road. The roundabout was quite a busy one. A pedestrian could have been hit by a car.

In the end it came to 'who cares enough to either do something or to try to get something done?' Don't just walk by, do something.

A park in Crystal Brook, South Australia

Near the centre of the park, looking NW
NW end
The two 'keep out' signs are visible on the left
Photo Canon Ixus 190, 2022/01/12
Crystal Brook Central Park Revegetation

I conducted an informal poll of people's opinions on whether the neglected land should be revegetated or not. 191 voted for, 1 voted against.

I had help from two people in my revegetation efforts, one lived in the town, the other had lived in the town as a child and was very environmentally minded.

The 'owner' of the land was the South Australian government, who to my way of thinking should work for the SA people. But the government department directly responsible opposed the beatification of the land, without providing justification for their opposition.

After working on the project for several years Denece and I were forced by circumstances to leave South Australia. Whether anyone cared enough to continue on the beautification project after we left I don't know - I very much doubt that anyone did, but I'd like to be wrong.

We should hold our leaders to account

Back in 2002 Bush, Blair and Howard mounted their illegal, immoral, unjustified invasion of Iraq, which was so damaging to, not only Iraq itself and all its people, but to several other countries in the Middle East as well.

Many people joined demonstrations at the time opposing Australia's involvement, but there have been few repercussions to Bush, Blair and Howard since. They should all be in jail.

And now Vladimir Putin has similarly invaded Ukraine. We humans should not allow our leaders to behave like this, but we do let them get away with it. You might ask, why do the Russian people allow, even support Putin in his efforts to become Tzar of another Russian empire, but we allowed Bush, Blair and Howard to get away with it, how can we condemn the Russian people?

The Vietnam War was another shameful episode in which the USA supported a corrupt regime and the wealthy Vietnames land-owners in their efforts to keep down the rural poor. And Australia helped the USA in all that they did.

But it seems few of us care enough to try to hold our leaders to decent ethical standards.

Related pages

Related pages on external sites...

Cycling without age: The concept of Cycling Without Age is taking elderly people (or those with disabilities) out for bike rides in specially built trishaw bikes piloted by volunteers

IPBES; The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Related pages on this site...

Cleaning up roadsides; Dumping rubbish on roadsides has similarities to dumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

Climate change; the greatest threat facing our shared planet

Climate walk; a walk for climate change action

Compassion, not just for our fellow humans, but for the whole biosphere

Contribution; we should all contribute positively to our communities

Controlling weeds in public parks and reserves in the Mandurah area

Don't just walk by, do something

Ethics, some thoughts

Self respect is enormously valuable, but must be earned

Selfishness or altruism? Self or all?

Speed limit links: There are links between speed limits, petroleum consumption, pedestrian deaths, walking, bicycling, obesity, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions; there are even links with responsible government and terrorism.

A tale of four swamps, one of which is being cared for

Volunteers in Mandurah; a list of some of the local organisations that are run by volunteers

What can (and should) we be doing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?