Everybody needs good neighbours, and thankfully mine are very good indeed. I am reminded of their virtue each day by prominently displayed posters and bumper stickers attesting to their commitment to this century’s cause celebre, climate justice.
My neighbour to the immediate left was quick off the blocks when Election 2020 was announced, promptly mounting a Corflute poster on his front gate promoting Climate 200 candidate Allegra Spender. Each time I see the poster, which is many times a day, Allegra challenges me to vote for “a better climate for Wentworth”, her beaming visage imploring me to reflect upon my selfish ways.
Immediately to my right, the other neighbour has hung a Corflute that provides a stern prescription on the importance of the climate crusade. Issued by an organisation known as Doctors for the Environment Australia (whose financials make interesting reading), it informs me that “Climate Care is Health Care.” Although not directly indicating which political party the worthy doctors are specifically recommending, I imagine a party now led by a Prime Minister who once championed coal by bringing a lump into Parliament would not be high on their list.
In addition to signifying that my neighbour is on the right side of history, this second Corflute also provides me with the useful information that the resident is a doctor, just in case I didn’t already know. This could come in handy if I ever come down with a case of climate-related gout. More likely, I fancy, is that the only prescription I might receive would be an admonition to cease driving the 3.6 litre V6 that is my preferred mode of transport.
Helpfully, yet another neighbour on my street has provided me with simple way to keep the car while remaining part of the climate movement. Their large petrol-guzzling SUV bears a bumper sticker that declares, “This is my last gas car.” The text is accompanied by an emoji of a small car with a power plug boasting only two prongs, which led me to suspect the sticker is of North American origin. This was confirmed by a visit to the website indicated in small print on the sticker, Electricpledge.org. Here I learned that an organisation called The 2 Degrees Institute has come up with a fantastic plan to help us transition away from a fossil fuel driven economy.
A new generation of 300km+ (200 mile) range electric vehicles are finally here in a price range comparable to mass produced gas vehicles, it is now easier then (sic) ever for the average middle-class consumer to make the leap to the new paradigm of zero emission personal transportation.
“To help individuals take this step, 2 Degrees Institute is asking people to take the Electric Car Pledge: that when they are ready to shop for their next vehicle, that next vehicle they buy will be an electric one. By physically taking the pledge, you are making it harder for your future self to give up on your goal. This is a physcological (sic) strategy proven by scientists to help people stick to their goals.
Taking the pledge is free, but the bumper sticker is $US3.95 + shipping costs and well worth it. Your future self will thank you.
While unable to use a spellchecker, the people at 2 Degrees Institute are obviously a bunch of geniuses. Why has nobody thought of this before? Alcoholics and the obese, drug and sex addicts alike, rest easy now, your troubles are over — just take a pledge and your addictions are cured. It’s a proven “physcological” strategy. Once again, the science has been settled! By affixing the pledge sticker to your car, you are also declaring to the world you are a petrol penitent and asking to be absolved of your sins of commission in driving a gas-powered vehicle. It may also help to recite a short climate prayer before sticking the key in the ignition. Something like this maybe:
I confess to Almighty Gaia and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned. In my thoughts and in my words, in what I have driven and in what I have failed to drive. Therefore, I ask the Blessed Greta, ever scowling, Peters Garrett and Fitzsimons, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pardon me for the fuel I use. Amen
If my SUV-driving neighbour does hold to the pledge and purchase an electric vehicle, I hope they plan ahead on how to keep the battery charged. The Sydney Morning Herald recently highlighted the sad case of a Sydney doctor who was forced to sell his electric car after his apartment building denied him access to a power point in the basement car park. A doctor clever enough to prescribe a cure for the climate no doubt, but not smart enough to realise he needs a way to charge his vehicle.
Like many living in Victorian terraces in the electorate of Wentworth, my EV pledging neighbour does not have a garage and must use on-street parking. It is interesting to speculate how he will keep an electric car charged. Perhaps a long extension cord snaking out his front window and across the footpath?
The Allegra Spender poster next door is just one of many that have sprung up across the district. Climate 200 candidates have a seemingly inexhaustible supply of free Corflute signs to display on neighbourhood gates, fences and front yards, courtesy no doubt of the generous campaign funding supplied by benefactor Simon Holmes à Court.
Visit the website of a Climate 200 “Independent” and you will be invited to “Get Involved by Hosting a Yard Sign”. Whether it is Allegra Spender in Wentworth, Joe Dyer in Boothby or David Pocock in the ACT Senate, Climate 200 candidates will have a printed Corflute quickly delivered to your door by an eager volunteer at no cost. Lightweight yet rigid, Corflute posters are popular with politicians as an advertising medium that can handle a couple of weeks in possibly rainy weather. The other political parties appear constrained by their budgets against handing out Corflutes willy nilly.
The Climate 200 Corflutes are predominantly of the 600x400mm poster size, although Zoe Dyer in Goldstein lets her fans go big with a limited edition 1189x841mm Corflute supplied, as usal, free of charge. It will be delivered by Zoe’s “cheerful sign crew” who have also volunteered to fix it to the side of your house.
Zali Steggall’s website is asking “Please Help us put Zali on every street in Warringah.” If the saintly Ms Steggall has not yet achieved full omnipresence in Tony Abbott’s former electorate, this will require the distribution of a very large number of free Corflute signs at a significant cost.
As I greet the smiling Allegra each day as I leave the house, I do allow myself a small smile back as it gives me pause to reflect on the nature of polypropylene, the material from which her Corflute poster is made. Polypropylene plastic, derived from propylene gas (C3H6), which is typically obtained during the refining of crude oil into petroleum and can also be produced from coal or natural gas.
Polypropylene is 100 per cent recyclable, although Allegra’s sympathetic smile – enhanced by a dentally perfect display of radiant white teeth – would seem to indicate that her campaign posters are not made from recycled Corflute. According to the website of Australian manufacturer Corex, recycled Corflute “usually has an off-white look with a very subtle speckle due to its recycled content.”
Polypropylene is used to make everything from bottles and bags, crates and furniture, car parts, fibres, syringes, medical devices, industrial tanks, sheets and pipes. That’s a very long list of products that will need to be reimagined in hemp or moulded seagrass by the time Net Zero 2030 is upon us.
If Corflutes are ruled out by Net Zero, the Climate 2032 Independents may have to turn to an alternative medium for electoral campaigns, and here they may be assisted by modern digital printers that can print directly to fabric. Although replicating Allegra’s sparkling smile on a non-plastic platform may still involve a climate compromise as the most widely used white pigment in printer inks is titanium dioxide (TiO2), produced from ilmenite, a titanium-iron oxide mineral (note to Allegra, minerals are mined. Interestingly, Australia was the world’s largest ilmenite ore producer in 2011, with about 1.3 million tonnes of production, followed by South Africa, Canada, Mozambique, India, China, Vietnam, Ukraine, Norway, Madagascar and United States.)
Affixed to my neighbour’s gate, Allegra’s grin will be there to welcome me home for the long five weeks remaining in the 2022 election campaign. During this period there is at least one positive contribution Allegra will make to the environment in my section of Wentworth. The lane leading to my front gate was closed to traffic and pedestrianised some years ago. At night the lane is almost completely dark, owing to the fact that the City of Sydney, a militant environmental organisation, refuses to prune the trees that block the streetlight at the entrance to the lane.
I have pointed out that the City of Sydney’s Safe City strategy “stresses the importance of adequate lighting levels as a key crime prevention measure, contributing to the reduction in crime and the increase in the public’s perception of safety.” But to no avail. Apparently, the trees contribute to “0ur canopy” a phrase the council loves to employ, basically implying we are all primitive residents of a natural jungle rudely interrupted here and there by such things as cities and suburbs.
Now, when I return home after dark and peer through the gloom attempting to make out my home destination, the streetlight at the far end of the lane is reflected strongly by Allegra’s titanium dioxide-enhanced grin printed on glossy polypropylene. If perchance I have failed to maintain a certain pledge on this dark and stormy night, Allegra’s smile provides a virtual lighthouse able to steer me home through unsteady waters. All power to her, my own lady of the lamp.
Walter Waverley is the pseudonym of a Wentworth resident who prefers anonymity to grief from his woke neighbours. He promises to continue reporting on electoral developments up and perhaps after May 21.
Host a Yard Sign