2012: The year the world snoozed

31 December 2012

The Guardian described 2006 as “The year the world woke up” to climate change. If that’s the case then I guess 2007 was the year we rolled over and went back to sleep. Our alarm clock has continued to ring ever more loudly and clearly, but we just keep on hitting the snooze button – if we even hear the alarm at all. The events of 2012 have continued the pattern, both in Australia and around the world.


A diverse group of organizations warned there is a “carbon bubble” in global financial markets. Yawn… oh look, Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open!


Mining magnate and climate change denier Gina Rinehart tried to take over an Australian newspaper chain. Business news is so dreary… wow, congratulations to Queen Elizabeth II for reaching her Diamond Jubilee!

Australian ex-PM Kevin Rudd attempted to regain the top job and lock in a meaningless greenhouse gas emissions target. Hey, someone leaked a video of him saying the F-word!


Greenpeace exposed Australia’s plans to multiply its already-world-beating coal exports on a scale dwarfing its emissions at home, to which the government responded by passionately defending the industry. Soporific stuff… look, Clive Palmer is fighting with his soccer team!

Australia introduced a tax on coal mining profits that failed to raise any revenue. How dull… whoa, Sachin Tendulkar scored his 100th international century in cricket!


Several Australian states governed by the Liberal Party pointed to a federal carbon price to justify winding back their climate change policies, while federal and state Labor governments promised the unelected Business Advisory Forum that they will follow suit by early next year. Wow, a trumped-up scandal forced Peter Slipper to step aside as Speaker of the House of Representatives!


The Australian government released ads for its climate policy which neglected to mention climate change. How tedious… oh look, the Olympic Flame has arrived in London!

Climate Action Tracker warned the already cavernous gap between the required global greenhouse gas emissions cuts and the actions pledged by countries was growing even wider. How tiresome… hey, Tony Abbott ran for the door of Parliament!


Around this time it became clear that in Australia national energy demand is falling fast and so is the price of rooftop solar. The fossil fuel industry responded by declaring war on renewable energy subsidies. Energy news is mind-numbing… I wonder what’s happening at Wimbledon?

The Rio+20 conference, twenty years on from the Earth Summit that was supposed to save the planet, utterly failed to achieve anything. Nothing to see here… look, Katie Holmes filed for divorce!


On 1 July, Australia introduced a pathetically inadequate carbon price, further crippling it by bailing out two of the country’s biggest-polluting plants on 29 June. Yet somehow citizens still fretted about its impact on electricity prices. How wearying… whoa, can you believe Kristen Stewart cheated on Robert Pattinson?!

Greenland’s ice sheet experienced unprecedented surface melt. Let’s watch Michael Phelps win gold medals at the London Olympics!


Australia scrapped its carbon floor price, undermining investment certainty for zero-carbon technologies. I need a nap… oh look, a nude photo of Prince Harry!


Australia cancelled plans to pay for the closure of coal-fired electricity generators. My head is nodding… look, Miranda Kerr visited an airport!

The Australian government tried to neutralize public concern about coal seam gas with a toothless independent scientific committee. Oh look, Serena Williams won her fourth US Open!

Unprecedented Arctic sea ice melt threatened to set off a chain reaction of tipping points and amplifying feedbacks affecting all of humanity and life on Earth. What a snorefest… go Swans!


The UN warned a fall in global grain supply, caused by extreme weather in the US and elsewhere, could lead to a global food crisis in 2013 if extreme weather persists (and the US drought has intensified since then). All this warm weather is making me sleepy… oh, Lance Armstrong was banned for life for performance-enhancing drugs!


The US was cooked by heatwaves, parched by drought, roasted by fires, and ravaged by hurricanes, yet in the presidential election Obama ignored climate and Romney joked about it.

The British Antarctic Survey found ocean acidification is already beginning to disintegrate the shells of marine snails. My muscles are going limp… look, Kim Kardashian is dating Kanye West!

Melting permafrost began releasing carbon. I need to lie down… oh, Charles and Camilla attended the Melbourne Cup!

Many otherwise conservative organizations sounded the alarm about climate inaction, including PricewaterhouseCoopers, the World Bank, and the International Energy Agency. But we were relatively unconcerned about these evidence-based warnings of a very real threat to the world as we know it. Those chicken littles don’t scare me… aaaaaah! The Mayans prophesied the world would end next month!


The Global Carbon Project announces global CO2 emissions rose by 3% in 2012, and 58% since 1990, and… percentages make my eyelids droop. Oh look, Kate Middleton is pregnant!

Delegates at the Doha climate talks put off consideration of ramping up ambition, institutionalized meaninglessly weak 2020 targets for the few countries still in the Kyoto Protocol, carried over enough surplus permits to lock in business-as-usual for many countries until at least 2020, and prioritized negotiating a post-2020 agreement over urgent action. I don’t think I can stay awake for much longer… hey, the Pope is on Twitter!

Australia’s Energy White Paper, despite acknowledging the importance of renewables for the first time, laid out a plan for exponential growth in fossil fuel mining and exports. I just need to close my eyes for a moment…


In 2012 the fossil fuel industry boomed, from Canadian tar sands to American shale gas to Australian coal and coal seam gas, yet still we doze. The media largely ignored climate, and so did politicians.

Our beds are so comfortable, we don’t want to move. Whether we’re dreaming blissfully of endless growth, or plagued by nightmares about short-term recession, we’re just… soooo sleepy.

We are sleepwalking into a catastrophe. Humanity urgently, urgently, urgently needs to shake ourselves out of our slumber and cut CO2 emissions to zero or near-zero (and eventually less than zero) before global warming spirals out of our control. Wake up before it’s too… zzzzzz.

Oh, sorry, I think I fell asleep. Did I miss anything?


  1. 🙂 you didn’t mention K.Kardashian is pregnant, bur she is an Azeri, not an Australian

  2. […] 2012/12/31: PlanetJ: 2012: The year the world snoozed […]

  3. A reblogué ceci sur zohrataleb.

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