Christmas letter, 2023

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all.

I hope that you will join me in wishing for a saner world in 2024, a world in which the great majority of people take our lovely shared environment as seriously as it deserves to be taken, and in particular, work at reducing greenhouse emissions so that all our grand children and great, great, great... grandchildren and their fellow creatures can inherit a world that is not greatly inferior to the one that Denece and I have been fortunate enough to have lived in. As someone said, it's not our world, we borrow it from those who come after us (or something similar).

I haven't posted a Christmas letter on my Web site previously, perhaps I will continue with it in years to come; a comment on the things that have seemed important in the past year and things that we can hope for in the future?

This page was started 2023/12/08
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©

The road to Bunyeroo Valley, Flinders Ranges of South Australia.
I suspect that the beautiful and much loved Flinders Ranges are one of the more climate change-susceptible parts of Australia. They are an island of vegetation that would not handle rising temperatures or decreasing rainfall well.

The lack of concern over the disaster that climate change is going to be, or even is already, in the great majority of people has always been a mystery to me. A part of the answer seems to be that people will take seriously a threat that is immediate, local, and has a simple cure. Climate change is global, will hit hardest in decades or even centuries, and does not have a simple fix.

A part of what used to be 'our' land, Clare, South Australia. Much missed.
The idea that people can own land strikes me as one of modern humanities great errors.

Locally, the beautiful parks around where Denece and I now live are at risk from invasive weeds, two species in particular. I put in a bit of time most mornings working at controlling them. It's something that I like to contribute to the community in which I live. While the city council doesn't take weed invasion in parks as seriously as I'd like to see I've no doubt that they have many calls on their services, and who wants to pay higher council rates to get more services? I do wonder why (it seems) I am the only person who, as a volunteering individual, works at controlling the weeds in our shared parks; many people pick up rubbish (many more drop rubbish), why do so few pull out weeds?

'Wild' kangaroos in the BSPS
Kangaroos in BSPS
The unnamed reserve that I call the 'big seasonal paperbark swamp' (BSPS) about a kilometre east of our new home is where I have spent most of my time on my invasive weed removal project.

There is a general principle here, if I see something that is not what it should and could be, if I am able but not willing to do anything about it, why should anyone else? I've just got around to putting this into words this last year,"don't just walk by, do something".

Pond with stepping stones
This pond was in a well used walking trail. Almost everyone just tried to walk around it, some just looked at it and went back the way they came. Finally someone did something: placed stepping stones. See Peel/Mandurah observations for more on this particular case.
The same principle applies to minimising our emissions. If I don't make an effort to reduce the greenhouse gasses that I'm responsible for, how can I criticise anyone else, including our government for their half-hearted efforts?

Another principle that should be insisted upon by all of us is telling the truth. In the middle years of wind farm development in South Australia (maybe 2008-2016) there were many lies being told by those who either simply didn't like wind farms or those who were sufficiently deluded to think that wind turbines harmed people's health. I spent a lot of time and effort in trying to get the truth out. In 2023 we started hearing similar lies being told about offshore wind farms, people are claiming that they harm, even kill, whales; even the leader of the federal parliamentary Liberals, Peter Dutton, has jumped on this particular band wagon.

Something else that we could all hope for in the coming year is a more peaceful world. No more attempts at empire building, like the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine by Russia under Vladimir Putin where the destruction and killing is still going on. We can all hope that Xi Jinping doesn't similarly invade Taiwan in his ambition to be some sort of twenty-first century greatest ever Chinese Emperor.

It's Christmas. A time for being happy and celebrating. One thing that is well worth celebrating is that representatives of 118 countries have signed the ‘Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge’ at COP28 in Dubai to treble global installed capacity by 2030. This would be a great step on the way toward ending the domination of fossil fuels and making a very significant move toward a sustainable world.

But being a realist rather than a dreamer (or am I a dreamer who has aspirations of being a realist?) I have to wonder how many of these countries will carry through on their promise?

I will be a dreamer and hope that people like Gina Rinehart, Clive Palmer, Meg O'Neil, Donal Trump and Rupert Murdoch turn over a new leaf and place the environment before their selfish ambitions and lust for ever more power and wealth.

To finish up, may 2024 be good for you and especially for our beautiful shared planet.