Category Archives: our doomedness

Simians Cyborgs and Shell: on corporate propaganda and fallback positions

 The oil major Shell has a blisteringly slick and seductive new advert that extols the virtues of gas as a ‘transition fuel’ (which it isn’t).  As a piece of propaganda, it would make Donna Haraway guffaw with delight.

It’s 80 seconds of ‘Jenna and Cory’ who live together extolling the virtues of hybridity.  They are ‘alternative’ (dyed hair, tattoes, piercings, vegan), living in a twee rural setting, and techno-geeky (there’s drone porn) who are trying to make a “hybrid house” – one of them is “super-nerdy, she takes everything apart”.

They think “in a few decades they might be able to rely solely on solar and wind energy, but we can’t do that right now” (we’ll come back to this). Instead they advocate natural (love that word) gas, because it’s the most “sustainable way to fuel your life”.  The words “climate change” do not, of course, appear.

This is a straightforward reverse-McCarthy, an “innocence by association” gambit, aiming for a halo effect from all the nice crunchy granola things it’s putting on the screen. Readers with long memories might recall the applauding dolphins and sea lions from 1991, when they heard that another oil major, Conoco, was going to use double-hulled oil tankers.

In 80 seconds it ticks a huge number of boxes – woman-as-nature, ecological modernisation and corporate citizenship.  It really renews the  “whole earth catalogue” (Stewart) brand  for the 21st century and appropriating the (false ) notion of “hybrid vigour”.  The ad agency most definitely deserves its fee.

These adverts, in which nature is redeemer and advocate are not new –  Esso had a ‘Tiger in the Tank’ and SSE has a soleful looking orang-utan shilling for it. The use of feminism/female empowerment to sell products goes back (at least) as far as the notorious “march” of actorvists called “Torches of Freedom”  in 1929, organised by Edward Bernays for “Lucky Strike” cigarettes, tying smoking to women’s liberation. We should be taught how to deconstruct advertising in school, of course.  But Berger (1972), Williamson (1978), Goldman and Papson (1996) are not, to our shame and loss, on the primary school curriculum…

Meanwhile, back in 2015, Shell are so confident of the righteousness of their message and  the value of dialogue that….comments on the video are disabled. Perhaps they are learning from the ‘bashtag’ experiences that other corporations have weathered of late. Still, it’s had more thumbs down than thumbs up…

hybridhouse

Shell and other companies’ history

Shell is justifiably proud of its advertising prowess, which dates back to the 1920s and especially the 1930s. As its own website says –

“But the decade saw many advances: great progress in fuel and chemicals research and an explosion of brilliant advertising with themes of power, purity, [emphasis added] reliability, modernity and getting away from it all. Many designs have become classics.” [And some are even National Trust-worthy]

Sadly at the same time Shell supremo Henri Deterling was palling around with Adolph Hitler – the latter speaking at his funeral in 1939.After the war, Shell’s mojo (briefly) deserted it- there’s an hilarious advert of a salad covered in oil.

shell1947
If crimes against aesthetics were all that it was up to, you’d be forgiven for laughing. But as Andy Rowell writes

“In the post-war years, Shell manufactured pesticides and herbicides on a site previously used by the US military to make nerve gas at Rocky Mountain near Denver. By 1960 a game warden from the Colorado Department of Fish and Game had documented abnormal behaviour in the local wildlife, and took his concerns to Shell, who replied: “That’s just the cost of doing business if we are killing a few birds out there. As far as we are concerned, this situation is all right.”

But the truth was different. “By 1956 Shell knew it had a major problem on its hands,” recalled Adam Raphael in the Observer in 1993. “It was the company’s policy to collect all duck and animal carcasses in order to hide them before scheduled visits by inspectors from the Colorado Department of Fish and Game.” “

The 1990s were a particularly bleak time for Shell’s PR folks. They lost the Brent Spar battle, and the execution of 9 Nigerian activists, including author Ken Saro-wiwa presented them with real PR problems  They started talking about sustainable development (Livesey, 2002) and also re-jigged their advertising, and were happy with the results (Victor, 2005).

Renewable outrage

However, Shell’s recent attempt to drill in the Arctic been catastrophic, both financially and in terms of its reputation. Greenpeace has them bricking it – Lego have ended a tie-in deal, and the combination of American kayakers, a giant polar bear stalking their HQ and Emma Thompson are giving them new headaches.

It’s in this context that this advert, advocating natural gas as a transition fuel, must be read. It’s a classic ‘you may not like us, but you need us’ statement.  Further, the claim that renewables might be viable in a few decades is particularly interesting (and audacious).  Costs of renewables are plummeting, and ‘grid parity’ (dangerous term) is approaching.

Shell, and other oil majors, might be wise to be nervous.  And according to the excellent journalist Arthur Neslen, Shell  has been lobbying the EU to undermine its next renewables target. As Goldman and  Papson (1996: 200) observe –

“…in a sense, the advertising provides covering fire so the lobbyists can quietly do their work. The battles are often won in the lobbying trenches, but they cannot be won if public opinion, or more importantly, public opinion amplified by the television media, keeps attention focused on images of environmental degradation.”

Acknowledgement

Thanks to Guy Diercks for bringing this advert to my attention.  While I retain any kudos for this analysis, all libel writs and threatening letters should be directed to him.

Further Reading
Berger, J. (1972) Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin

Robert Goldman and  Stephen Papson (1996) Sign Wars: The Cluttered Landscape of Advertising New York ; London : Guilford Press

Greenberg, J., Kngiht, G. and Westersund, E. (2011) Spinning climate change: Corporate and NGO public relations strategies in Canada and the United States. International Communication Gazette 73, (1-2), pp. 65-82.

Levy, D. Reinecke, J. and Manning, S. (2015) The Political Dynamics of Sustainable Coffee: Contested Value Regimes and the Transformation of Sustainability Journal of Management Studies

Livesey, S. ( 2002) The Discourse of the Middle Ground: Citizen Shell Commits to Sustainable Development Management Communication Quarterly vol. 15 no. 3 313-349. http://mcq.sagepub.com/content/15/3/313

In this study, Foucauldian theory is used to interpret a corporate social report published by the Royal Dutch/Shell Group to reveal the contours of an emerging corporate discourse of sustainability and the knowledge-power dynamics entailed by social reporting. The report could be read simply as a corporate attempt to re-establish discursive regularity and hegemonic control in the wake of challenges by environmentalists and human rights activists. However, the author interprets it in the context of the larger socio-political discursive struggle over environment and social justice and finds that Shell’s “embrace” of the concept of sustainable development has transforming effects on the company and on the notion of sustainability itself. This contradictory and ambiguous result is characteristic of discursive struggle, which is where, according to Foucault, power is played out and social change occurs.

Pulver, S. (2007)  Making Sense of Corporate Environmentalism: An Environmental Contestation Approach to Analyzing the Causes and Consequences of the Climate Change Policy Split in the Oil Industry Organization and Environment 20 (1) pp. 44-83.

Verity, J. (2005) Shell: an advertising success story. Strategic Direction Vol 21 (9), pp. 15-17.

Judith Williamson (1978) Decoding Advertisements: Ideology and Meaning in Advertising. London: Boyars.

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Of Monbiot, Manchester and miserable ‘feral’ futures.

Nature as redeemer, nature as escape, nature as the solace for our “gridded, controlled, mannered urban lives.” So far so romantic.
Well, nature is on the road, and she’s gunning for the lot of us. We’ve poked the beast, and now it really is waking up. On a quiet day, you could hear it snoring. Nowadays you can hear it going about its morning ablutions while preparing to unleash a can of whoopass on the species wot woke it up.
Which made the Manchester Literature Festival event I went to all the more weird. Row upon row of staggeringly white (this is Manchester?) people, of a certain level of (cultural) capital – not so many upward omnivores here – sat in rows while downloadGeorge ‘Feral’ Monbiot and Sarah ‘Carhullan Army’ Hall stood at t’podium. Hall read from her latest novel, The Wolf Border, which is about a woman, Rachel, involved in a project to reintroduce wolves to the UK. George does what George does well – some witty observations, confidently delivered with a smile. I first saw him do this at the Schumacher Lectures in, bosh, 1996?, when he alarmed the assembled ‘hippie’ gentry by advocating for land rights in the FIRST world. (They were underwhelmed, given the tacit deal with the Schumacher Lectures is that rich people get to be telescopically philanthropic, not locally so. But I digress).  He did not epater la bourgeoisie on this occasion however, but advocated the roaming of the four-legged beasts, especially ones that might contest the ‘white plague’ (sheep, not TB). And deer. [What do you call Bambi with his eyes poked out? No eye-deer. What do you call Bambi with his eyes poked out and his legs chopped off? Still no eye-deer. I’m digressing again, aren’t I?]

This is all well and good, but as the host alluded to, there are slightly bigger fish (well, planets) to fry. So, uncharacteristically, I stuck up my hand and asked this.
“On climate change. We’ve been warned since 1988 by the scientists and some politicians. We’ve done nothing. We WILL do nothing. So we are going to get acidified oceans, seven metres of sea level rise and four degrees plus of warming. Given that, to be provocative, what does it matter if we re-introduce this species or that. “Mother Nature” will introduce – and eliminate – species over the next hundred years as she sees fit.” 
George’s answer was in two parts. I will try to report each fairly, and then editorialise.
1) You mustn’t say that we will do nothing, that we are doomed, because that is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The species is hugely altruistic, it’s just a few (percentage) who are screwing it up.

2) Ecosystems with lots of biodiversity (and apex predators etc) are more resilient to shocks.

George – if you’re reading this and I’ve been unfair, lemme know. Ditto if anyone who was there is reading this…

What I wanted to say in response, but obviously didn’t.

1) The “you mustn’t say we’re doomed because that means people will give up” argument is beginning to get on my tits. I think it can and should only be made by people who have done a thorough job of studying WHY our response has been so poor (it’s not ALL Exxon’s fault) and – this is the crucial bit – have some clearly-stated suggestions about HOW TO DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY ‘GOING FORWARD’. George may have these, but he didn’t say them on Sunday (fair enough – folks were coming to hear him talk about wolves and rhinos, not social movement strategy).
We don’t say “you shouldn’t tell people with lung cancer that they have lung cancer because then they’ll get upset.” We expect to treat ourselves/each other as adults, who can read a Keeling Curve, read the emissions trajectories and understand the concept of climate sensitivity, and do some pretty rudimentary guesstimating.
ALSO, it’s not my ‘doom’ that is killing the species’ chance of seeing the 22nd century in reasonable shape. It’s capitalism, technological hubris, consumerism, population, the failure of social movements to cope with neo-Gramscian passive revolution strategies, and good old fashioned inertia baked into ‘the System’ (, “man”).

2) Hmm, that’s

a) curiously anthropocentric and

b) kinda misses the point about the shocks to the System. The second half of the 21st Century is (probably, okay, probably) going to make the first half of the 20th look like a picnic. This or that species of wolf is not going to mean there isn’t starvation, plague, war and all of that zombie apocalypse stuff. Wishful/magical/totemic thinking to think otherwise, no?

Sarah Hall’s answer I can’t categorise so clearly (I’m sexist man only paying attention to men? Maybe. Or just getting old? Or both). She seemed to be saying, with the example of the 2005 floods in Carlisle, that the cities will be affected, and it’s only when that happens that we will do something.

Worth reading on this “back to Nature” malarkey

  • EM Forster’s short story “The Machine Stops
  • Kingfisher Lives by the late Julian Rathbone, denied the Booker Prize – because one of the judges, the wife of then Prime Minister Harold Wilson, could cope with the incest, murder, cannibalism, but not the (in context) dropping of the C-bomb.
  • Paul Theroux The Mosquito Coast
  • And of course all the feminist sci-fi/spec fiction writers – Marge Piercy (Woman on the Edge of Time, Body of Glass), Barbara Kingsolver, Ursula Le Guin, Octavia Butler.  And I STILL haven’t read Carolyn ‘The Death of Nature’ Merchant. #lazy

PS Thanks to CG for the ticket!!

2 brilliant articles on our SNAFU civilisation – #climate #nuclear #culture #doom

Carol Cohn (1987) Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals Signs, Vol. 12, No. 4, Within and Without: Women, Gender, and Theory. (Summer, 1987), pp. 687-718. link

Thomas Homer-Dixon, Brian Walker, Reinette Biggs, Anne-Sophie Crépin, Carl Folke, Eric F. Lambin, Garry D. Peterson , Johan Rockström, Marten Scheffer, Will Steffenand Max Troell (2015) Synchronous failure: the emerging causal architecture of global crisis Ecology and Society 20(3): 6 link

These guys have nailed it. Carol Cohn, writing in 1987 about the seductive language of nuclear war, and a gang of guys writing this year about ‘Synhcronous failure: the emerging causal architecture of global crisis‘ have nailed it. You need to read both these pieces and marvel about the stupendous power of our species – to shape its world, to toy with destroying it, and most of all, its power to delude itself and rationalise its stupidity and its death wishes.

The two articles cover the power of language to constrain thought and community, the trap of (decreasing) energy return on investment and everything else in between. They are two of the best things you will read this decade. They should also scare the crap out of you.

Cohn was able, despite being a peace-nik, to become ethnographically embedded with ‘defence (sic) intellectuals in the American nuclear war thinkingsystem in the 80s, when a nuclear war was only a few bits of bad luck and geese away. Her piece is one long series of brilliant and horrible observations. I will include only a couple –

Anyone who has seen pictures of Hiroshima burn victims or tried to imagine the pain of hundreds of glass shards blasted into flesh may find it perverse beyond imagination to hear a class of nuclear devices matter-of- factly referred to as “clean bombs.” “Clean bombs” are nuclear devices that are largely fusion rather than fission and that therefore release a higher quantity of energy, not as radiation, but as blast, as destructive explosive power.7

“Clean bombs” may provide the perfect metaphor for the language of defense analysts and arms controllers. This language has enormous destructive power, but without emotional fallout, without the emotional fallout that would result if it were clear one was talking about plans for mass murder, mangled bodies, and unspeakable human suffering.

  1. Fusion weapons’ proportionally smaller yield of radioactive fallout led Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Lewis Strauss to announce in 1956 that hydrogen bomb tests were important “not only from a military point of view but from a humanitarian aspect.” Although the bombs being tested were 1,000 times more powerful than those that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the proportional reduction of fallout apparently qualified them as not only clean but also humanitarian. Lewis Strauss is quoted in Ralph Lapp, “The ‘Humanitarian’ H-Bomb,” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 12, no. 7 (September 1956): 263.

and

although I was tempted to use my newly acquired proficiency in techno- strategic jargon, I vowed to speak English. I had long believed that one of the most important functions of an expert language is exclusion-the denial I wanted to see of a voice to those outside the professional community,whether a well-informed person could speak English and still carry on a knowledgeable conversation.

What I found was that no matter how well-informed or complex my questions were, if I spoke English rather than expert jargon, the men responded to me as though I were ignorant, simple-minded, or both. It did not appear to occur to anyone that I might actually be choosing not to speak their language.

A strong distaste for being patronized and dismissed made my experiment in English short-lived. I adapted my everyday speech to the vocabulary of strategic analysis. I spoke of “escalation dominance,” “preemptive strikes,” and, one of my favorites, “subholocaust engagements.” Using the right phrases opened my way into long, elaborate discussions that taught me a lot about technostrategic reasoning and how to manipulate it.

I found, however, that the better I got at engaging in this discourse, the more impossible it became for me to express my own ideas, my own values. I could adopt the language and gain a wealth of new concepts and reasoning strategies-but at the same time as the language gave me access to things I had been unable to speak about before, it radically excluded others. I could not use the language to express my concerns because it was physically impossible. This language does not allow certain questions to be asked or certain values to be expressed.

Much of their claim to legitimacy, then, is a claim to objectivity born of technical expertise and to the disciplined purging of the emotional valences that might threaten their objectivity. But if the surface of their discourse- its abstraction and technical jargon-appears at first to support these claims, a look just below the surface does not. There we find currents of homoerotic excitement, heterosexual domination, the drive toward competency and mastery, the pleasures of membership in an elite and privileged group, the ultimate importance and meaning of membership in the priesthood, and the thrilling power of becoming Death, shatterer of worlds. How is it possible to hold this up as a paragon of cool-headed objectivity?

It could usefully be read alongside Barbara Kingsolver’s corking essay “In the Belly of the Beast” on Titan missiles around Tuscon.

The 2015 article is from Ecology and Society, which does what it says on the tin. Here’s the abstract.

ABSTRACT. Recent global crises reveal an emerging pattern of causation that could increasingly characterize the birth and progress of future global crises. A conceptual framework identifies this pattern’s deep causes, intermediate processes, and ultimate outcomes.

The framework shows how multiple stresses can interact within a single social-ecological system to cause a shift in that system’s behavior, how simultaneous shifts of this kind in several largely discrete social-ecological systems can interact to cause a far larger intersystemic crisis, and how such a larger crisis can then rapidly propagate across multiple system boundaries to the global scale. Case studies of the 2008-2009 financial-energy and food-energy crises illustrate the framework. Suggestions are offered for future research to explore further the framework’s propositions.

Key Words: climate change; conventional oil; financial system; global crisis; grain supply; social-ecological system

They deliver in spades. In eleven clear and increasingly horrific pages (think Edgar Allan Poe and HP Lovecraft tripping acid mashing it up with Buzz Holling, James Hansen and Kevin Anderson) they lay out the not-very-hidden connections between our fossil fuel addiction and the multiple traps we’ve laid for ourselves. As a 2004 Harper’s article, that they don’t cite, put it – we are eating oil. (And here it is again, not behind a paywall this time)

Here’s some pretty figures.  You should get off the internet and read these articles.  Then go and have a lie down in a darkened room and commit to dance and drink and screw.  You know it makes sense. There’s nothing else to do.

figure 1

figure 2

What they have in common

  • Academic exposure of our rational irrationality, hubris, pathological technophilia
  • Humans at their best, writing about humanity at its worst.
  • There are huge slabs of quotable text, but you need to go and read these articles

What we learn from all this

  • There is no censorship of ‘secrets’ in the West worthy of the name. It is a system of soft control so beautiful that the Truth (and I don’t mean chemtrails or building 7, ffs) can be out there at the click of a mouse.
  • Our hierarchies necessarily (?) reward and promote sociopaths and psychopaths
  • Academics are capable of writing clearly about shit that matters.
  • We are fubarred.

Two different papers on the history of #Australia and environment may be of interest.

In

Ward (2015) “Tea Party imitators? The campaign against the carbon tax, the media and a new uncivil politics”, Australian Journal of Political Science, 50:2, 225-240,

there is a very handy account of the bizarre and distasteful year of 2011, when Julia Gillard as Australian Prime Minister skilfully steered the ‘Clean Energy Futures’ legislation through parliament. This package included the emission trading scheme that Tony Abbott, in his two years too long tenure as Australian prime minister abolished, but also created the Climate Change Authority, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Authority (ARENA), all of which Abbott tried to kill off, but couldn’t manage (and have been moved from Industry to Environment by new Aussie Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull”

Ward recaps the growth of the American Tea Party and the ‘outrage industry’ that is cable television and talkback  (and remember, outrage is an anagram of ear gout) before giving detailed accounts of the Marrickville protest where Labor MP (and possible replacement for Bill Shorten) Anthony Albanese was confronted by a mob happy to call him liar, but not so willing to listen to a word he said) and the infamous ‘Ditch the Witch/Bob Brown’s Bitch’ rally of 23rd March, and tying it to the activism of media personalities (especially Sydney’s 2GB radio station.

Some might quibble with just how rigorous Ward’s of finding pictures online, randomly selecting and counting faces is, but absent a time machine to be at the rally, it will do. His broader points stand.

What could be added (but then, it would have exceeded the word limit!  You can only do so much in any given article);

  • The broader context of why Gillard had to go back on her promise, the MPCCC situation, the protests at the passage of the legislation.  (All covered in Philip Chubb’s (2014) Power Failure.)
  • The demographics of the anti-carbon tax brigade and the ‘anti-reflexivity’ framework propounded by Dunlap and Mc…
  • The huge mining industry advertising campaigns of 2010 and 2011 (including the Trade and Industry Alliance
  • The broader nature of the Australian media and the invisibility of the coal industry – Wendy Bacon and Chris Nash PLAYING THE MEDIA GAME The relative (in)visibility of coal industry interests in media reporting of coal as a climate change issue in Australia Journalism Studies

While Ward is focused on the peak year of 2011, Rootes has more years and more countries in his frame.

Rootes, C. (2015) “Exemplars and Influences: Transnational Flows in the Environmental Movement” Australian Journal of Politics and History: Volume 61, Number 3,, pp.414-431.

He’s looking at the how of how ideas travel (not always in straight lines!) and specifically at the genealogies of Green parties, Friends of the Earth and ‘Earth First!’, looking at the US, Australia and Europe.  I’ll declare an interest – I lived through a bunch of this stuff, and I know (fairly tangentially) one of the people written about).

It’s a good piece, full of rich detail, and some minor de-mythologising –

It has sometimes been claimed, usually by Australians, that it was developments in Australia that exported the “green” label to environmental politics in Europe.2 In particular, it has been claimed that the German activist Petra Kelly was inspired, after her 1977 visit to Australia, by the Green Bans imposed by the New South Wales Builders Labourers’ Federation (BLF) in Sydney to campaign for the formation of a Green party in Germany.3 Perhaps what most impressed Kelly was the spectacle of working men campaigning for environmental protection in practical and effective ways, in response to calls for protection from local communities confronted with threats to their environment, but it is improbable that that could have inspired the formation in Germany of a new party or, indeed, the decision to label it “green”. After all, there were plenty of other factors driving in that direction in the ferment of German extra-parliamentary politics in those years.

And lots of things I didn’t know about American environmentalism-

Friends of the Earth (FoE) has become the most extensive network of autonomous environmental NGOs in the world.17 It had an unambiguous single point of origin as the brainchild of David Brower, who had resigned as executive director of the Sierra Club, the organisation established in California by John Muir in 1892 to promote the preservation of wilderness areas in the American west. Brower fell out with the board of directors of the Sierra Club over finances but also over his opposition to nuclear energy, and his expression of regret that the Club had voted to accept construction of a nuclear power plant at Diablo Canyon.

And UK FOE’s history –

FoE was committed to action that was not only non-violent but legal, even to the extent of frustrating supporters who wanted to be more directly active. Such discontents were crystallised when, despite FoE’s long campaign against nuclear energy, the 1978 Windscale nuclear reprocessing inquiry report dismissed FoE’s arguments. Many supporters were disillusioned, and some defected to Greenpeace.19 Nevertheless, FoE survived this and subsequent financial problems that precipitated an office revolt that ended in the empowerment of officers and its 250 autonomous local groups.

Things I need (or rather, want!) to look into more;

  • The Terania Creek blockade and the following victories.
  • The Wran government’s decision to create national parks freed up activists to help fight the Franklin Dam battle in 1982-3. (Wran was an interesting character – supported the White Cliffs solar energy plan, was head of CSIRO in late 80s and seems to have clocked the threat of climate change)
  • John Seed

When will we give up on “two degrees”? And what will that mean?

Climate change is going to be an unmitigated disaster.  It already is, in fact.  But for all the talk of solar panels from 3-D printers this, and Paris that, we miss the big picture.  The big picture is that we are screwed, more and more people know that we are screwed, and that it won’t be long (2 years? 5 years?) before a bunch of reputable scientists sigh and say “We’ve been warning you mo-fos for Thirty Fricking Years.  Well, it’s too late now.”

THAT will be interesting. Not “fun to watch,” but interesting.  As the pennies drop, as the illusions shatter, there will be pleas for god to intervene, for geo-engineers to intervene.  For all sorts of stuff.  Here’s a flow chart I put together almost ten years ago. Anyone want to argue the toss with me?

endoftheworld

The Fujimoto Imperative

My, doesn’t that sound like a particularly bad Robert Ludlum novel (three inch thrillers with three word titles)?

It’s about being able to blot out the horrible thing that is inevitably coming, and do what you have to do in the meantime.  Sisyphus blah de blah, yadder yadder yadder.  In case you don’t know the story;

Shun Fujimoto (藤本 俊 Fujimoto Shun?, born May 11, 1950) is a retired Japanese gymnast.

Shun Fujimoto
— Gymnast —
Discipline Men’s artistic gymnastics

He represented Japan at the 1976 Summer Olympics, where he won gold in the team competition.

Fujimoto achieved fame by continuing to compete in the team event right after breaking his knee during the floor exercise. He scored 9.5 on the pommel horse and 9.7 on the rings with a broken knee, dismounting from the rings from eight feet above ground and keeping his balance after landing on his feet. He “raised his arms in a perfect finish before collapsing in agony”.[1][2] The dismount worsened his injury, dislocating his broken kneecap and tearing ligaments in his right leg. Doctors ordered him to withdraw from further competition or risk permanent disability.[3][4] One doctor stated:

“How he managed to do somersaults and twists and land without collapsing in screams is beyond my comprehension.”[5]

Fujimoto stated that he had not wanted to let his team down by revealing his injury.[6] His completing of the pommel horse and rings events enabled the team to win gold, defeating the team from the Soviet Union by a narrow margin.[7] Later, when asked whether he would do what he did again, he replied frankly, “No, I would not.”[8]

#Australia and #climate – a book, ‘Environmental Boomerang’ warning in 1973…

So, when climate change burst onto the scene in 1988, I doubt too many hardcore environmentalists were surprised.(1)

Carbon dioxide gets a few pages in the 1972 ‘Limits to Growth’ book, which went through numerous printings.  The earliest Australian book I have been able to find (so far!) is this –

‘Environmental Boomerang’, published in 1973 by Jacaranda Press, who may well now be owned by Wiley. was written by Len Webb, a giant of Australian rainforest science, and by all accounts all-round good bloke.  His account of the state of the knowledge at the time is fair and succinct (see below)


1973 environmental boomerang cover

Here’s the relevant bit-

1973 env boomerang page 63

1973 env boomerang page 64

In 1974 a senior Australian civil servant asked some scientists to look into climate change.  ‘Nothing to see here’ came the answer.  Then, the following year a more formal request was made, more work done and ‘probably nothing to see here’ came back in 1976.  Of which more another time…

(1) Personally, in 1982 I remember my class teacher talking about some television show that talked of atmospheric pollution lasting 1500 years.