Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Carbon Tax

There has been a lot of talk about the carbon tax that the Australian Government is going to put on business and the affect that it will have on households, especially lower income households. People of course have very strong opinions about it, so strong that I am unable to have a conversation about it and express my opinion. So instead of talking about it I am going to write about it, no-one can talk over me or interrupt and I will feel better as I have had my say.

Without a doubt, a carbon tax will cost us financially at home. The government will tax business, who, will in turn, pass on those costs to us, and life is already getting more expensive as it is. The cost of food, electricity, fuel and all the rest of it that comes with life are on the rise, and a carbon tax will just make it worse.

The thing is, big business will just pay the tax (which we will actually be paying for) and continue polluting anyway. No affect on climate change there. What about the effect on exports? We won’t be able to compete with other countries that can produce cheaper than us and aren’t doing anything to curb their affect on the climate.

Another alternative would be to set targets to reduce carbon pollution over a set amount of years, just make it law, we have to do it. I like this idea better, we have to do something about what the pollution we are producing is doing to the planet. However, households will still be paying for it, the costs will still be passed on like with a carbon tax.

There are always many aspects to any discussion, especially when the topic is something like climate change. Why should we be the only ones doing anything about climate change? We produce less carbon emissions than other countries, our efforts won’t make any difference to climate change as those countries aren’t doing anything.

Personally, I don’t see why we have to wait for others to do something before we act. Why can’t we lead the way? Someone has to be first to do something about climate change, if we all had the thought that there was no way they would do anything ustil someone else did it first, no-one would do anything, ever.

Most of us agree that something needs to be done, however most of us don’t’ want to pay for it. We want to continue to live the way we currently are, with all out high tech energy consuming appliances, we agree that polluting is bad but really can’t be bothered to do anything about it. We complain that life is getting more expensive, how are we going to put food on the table for the family, how are we going to afford to pay the electricity bill and keep the phone connected?

The way I see it, we don’t’ have many choices. The government is going to do whatever they want, taxes are being created and are going up, business is still going to be polluting, the cost of everything is still going to be increasing and we still have to pay for it all.

I can really see only one solution for households. Use less. Consume less. Buy less. Reduce, reuse, recycle, and repair. Between climate change, peak oil and various other factors we are being left with little choice. It doesn’t matter if you believe in these things or not, it is irrelevant, people are struggling to cope with the cost of living regardless of the reason.

You only have to read the news to see that people are not coping financially, that countries are not coping financially. We can’t continue to live the life that we are because we can’t afford it, the planet can’t afford it.

People are losing their homes, kids can’t afford to leave home, forests are being torn down so we can have furniture, GM food is being promoted as the way to produce more food for food security, people are starving to death, people are obese yet malnourished, plant and animal species are dying every day, we are experiencing extreme wild weather around the world, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, flooding, more people have allergies than ever before. I could go on all day with this list.

I know this all started with talking about carbon tax, but we can’t’ afford to not do anything. A lot of us can’t afford to do something, but regardless, the government will do whatever and we will pay.

OK, so now we have to make some sacrifices. It was always going to come that, either financially or our lifestyle, but probably both. We can’t’ afford to continue to live the way we are with no thought to anything except to complain about how much our lifestyle is costing us.

So here is a short list of some things we need to be doing to cope with the increasing costs of life, it helps the planet, keeps money in our pockets and not placing it in the hands of big business and the government.
• Reduce – use less, think about whether you really need it
• Recycle – buy second-hand
• Re-use – use things over and over till they can’t be used any more, don’t use disposable single use products
• Repair – instead of instantly replacing a broken item, see if it can be fixed or if you can fix it
• Learn new skills, like sewing, cooking, lighting a fire for camping, changing the headlight in the car, mending clothes, hanging a picture, changing a tyre, knitting, crocheting
• Have tool box in the house with hand tools in it, no power tools
• Plant a garden, no matter how small
• Compost all kitchen scraps, keep all paper and cardboard to use as mulch
• Turn everything off at the wall, turn off the standby switch
• Cook more than one thing in the oven
• Don’t buy more electrical appliances, is there an alternative, or can you live without it altogether?
• Spend more time with those whose company you enjoy, go on picnics, have BBQs, play games, instead of sitting around the TV, computer and Xboxes
• Borrow from the library, swap books and DVD’s with friends, use the toy library
• Give our kids less, we all complain how our kids have too much, too many toys or expensive gadgets, well, we paid for them, so let’s stop. Get them useful things or experiences or better yet spend time with them, build things with them.
• Buy groceries on special, and shop with a list and a calculator
• Now this one is going to be a bit controversial. How about we bring up our own families instead of paying others to do it for us. We raise our own kids, do our own cleaning, and cook our own food from scratch. I know it is not for everyone and not everyone can afford to do it, but instead of working full time and paying for all those things you don’t have time for maybe work part time instead. However, I do think that if you choose to have children you should bring them up yourself, that there should be one parent at home, otherwise why have kids if you don’t raise them. I often hear that people can’t afford to pay for child care and now they have to stay home as it is too expensive to do anything else. Well, what is wrong with that? What is wrong with raising your own kids? You chose to bring them into to the world. If you want, go back to work when they are at school, but why work to only then hand over that money to someone else to look after your kids? Told you it was controversial.
• How about we turn off those electrical things and read a book or play a game, be in the garden, take a walk or play with the kids. Make a go-cart, play golf (mini) in the backyard, have friends over or meet up with friends at a park and picnic and play cricket. Go fishing or to the beach.
• Don’t spend more than we earn, don’t take on debt, if you don’t have the money then you can’t afford it
This list is endless, and others have made lists like this, so there are plenty of ideas out there. These things save us money and use less planetary resources, we would pay less tax on goods and services because we are not using them and we would be doing our part for the planet without it costing so much. But we must remember that we can’t continue living this lifestyle because it will cost us one way or the other.

So if the government brings in the carbon tax, which they probably will, we need to use less. Doesn’t mean that our life has to be less enjoyable, just a bit different (or maybe a lot). That we have to produce more at home and give up the takeaway, not go to the movies but have movie night at home on a Friday night with a borrowed DVD and homemade popcorn. There is nothing bad in that.

We have to have a plan for our families to get around carbon tax and peak oil and the rising costs of everything. You see, I want to live on a healthy planet, I want money in the bank, I want kids with no allergies, and I want to be able to go camping out bush with trees and animals. And I want my computer too, I do love technology but will probably have to give some stuff up, I could give up all phones, landline and mobiles, I have no issues with that.

I want it all but I can’t, so this is how I plan on getting around it, it does mean giving up a bit, maybe more than we think, but I think we will gain a lot too, maybe we will get back some of the stuff we lost when we took up spending so much time glued to the TV, computer and Xbox. Things like the skills of cooking and sewing, building furniture and gardening, we will get to know our families, we would have more time for the important things like our kids instead of them being at home alone until 6 or 7pm at night waiting for parents to get home from work.

The kids will benefit the most I think. Better relationships with their parents, the parent’s actually spending time listening to their kids and just doing stuff together. The kids don’t spend so much time on their own, they have good adult influences in their life and don’t learn their behaviours from other teenagers but from the adults in their lives. Being able to talk to parents about the things that are bothering them so they don’t’ bottle it up. Just thinking about teenage drug abuse, pregnancies, suicide, cyber bullying makes me shudder. Our kids will also have a planet to actually live on too, big plus really.

So all this from the carbon tax that the Australian Government will probably introduce, no wonder people write books. So now I have given my opinion, I would rather have a conversation as people have so many good ideas and other opinions that I may not have thought about, but sometimes that is not possible, so here it is. And now it is out there, I hope we find a way around it all soon, it would be nice to have our cake and eat it too, I will just continue reading and gathering ideas and listening to what people have to say and hope we all come out the other end OK.


  1. this was a very thoughtful post - all I really see with that carbon tax is that it will be a merry go around of the money, nothing will change!

  2. Thanks Africaaussie. You are right, things will not change, big business will pay the tax and pass on the cost to us and just continue polluting. Don't really know what the solution is for that but someone had better think of something soon.