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Neighbours and the Climate Emergency

Tuesday July 16th, 2019 in Climate emergency, Television | No Comments »

If the world stays on its current trajectory for warming, analysts predict that by century’s end, our planet will not support human civilization as we know it. There is a significant risk of societal breakdown by 2050.

But what would this mean for the Australian drama Neighbours? The effects of global warming include rising temperatures, severe weather events and social disintegration. These are already rampant in Erinsborough. If global warming exceeds 1.5C, these will get significantly worse. Below is a discussion of some of the effects of global warming on Erinsborough.

Rising Temperatures and severe weather events

Erinsborough currently exists in a bizarre Melbourne micro-climate where people relax by the outdoor pool in mid-winter and no one needs a jumper.

This is perfectly pleasant, however, a rise in average temperatures means longer and more severe heat waves. Vulnerable residents will be severely affected. Remember the time Susan tried to go to the shopping centre, her car broke down, her MS was triggered, and she nearly died on the road? It’s going to be like that but there’ll be no one to come to the rescue (see emergency and medical services).

Erinsborough is frequently rocked be severe weather events during which Murphy’s Law is in full operation. For example, during the 2014 tornado Susan had to give Lou an emergency tracheotomy instructed remotely by Dr Karl. Afterwards, the street was a real mess. As these weather events become more frequent due to global warming it will become more difficult to cleanup and rebuild, particularly as insurance systems fail and governments are unable to provide assistance.

Bushfires will also be more frequent and the bushfire season longer. This sort of thing has really ruined picnics for the Neighbours in the past.

Water and food shortages

Reduced rainfall and droughts will lead to food and water shortages. This will be bad because the Ramsay Street residents need to eat and drink. Ordering takeaway with all the trimmings is going to be completely out of the question, even for Terese Willis.

Emergency and medical services

Severe weather events, heatwaves and food and water shortages will create more demand for health and emergency services. At the same time, it will become more difficult for society to organise and pay for these services.

Erinsborough’s emergency services and hospitals are already riddled with corruption and incompetence. Dr Karl spreads confidential patient information like lice in a kindergarten, and once operated on a woman’s skull with a hand drill while intoxicated. Meanwhile, Erinsborough Police’s Constable Mark Brennan alternates between arresting close relatives for breathing, and burning evidence to protect his friends.

The mind boggles at what will happen when resources are stretched to breaking point. Based on past form, Dr Karl will continue to treat everyone even after the medical system has collapsed and this will cause many deaths. Constable Mark Brennan will probably attempt to install a one-man police state and make everyone panic clean as if it will make any difference.

Taking Action

The world is close to a critical tipping point, but it’s not too late. If global warming can be restricted to 1.5C, the worst-case scenarios may be avoided. This will require a massive mobilisation of resources to reduce carbon emission to zero as soon as possible.

Ramsay Street residents frequently lose family members, friends and fiancees in traumatic circumstances. Rarely, but still bizarrely often, these people turn out not to be dead after all. These events cause at least two to three weeks of agonising heartache before a bounce back.

The tenacity and resilience regularly demonstrated by Ramsay Street’s residents has never been more vital. This is an emergency, like a bag of snakes let loose on a suburban street. The Neighbours should act accordingly.

Individual choices

Ramsay Street residents could do many things to reduce their individual climate-impact including; reducing single-use plastic, eating less meat and catching the bus to the Back Lane Bar.

No individual is solely responsible for the climate emergency and the problems can’t be solved by individual actions alone. Global warming is not like the time Finn tried to poison the school so he could become the principal; that really was all his fault and he could have stopped it at any time.

No-one should beat up on the Neighbours for not living a perfect zero-carbon, waste-free life. We can make helpful choices as individuals, but collective action is the critical factor.

Collective action

The Ramsay Street residents are at their most powerful when they work together and remember that next door is only a footstep away, and that door is very unlikely to be locked so you can just walk right in.

The residents should push for the Erinsborough Council to declare a climate emergency, as dozens of Australian local councils already have.

Erinsborough Council then needs to be held to account for its actions to ensure they are consistent with this state of emergency. Constant vigilance and pressure will be needed. Luckily, no one on Ramsay Street has any work to do, so it should be fine.

Individuals on Ramsay Street may be able to leverage their professional skills and experience to support collective action.

Dr Karl could join Australian doctors who have declared a climate emergency and are demanding climate action.

Money-bags Paul Robinson could financially support the climate-action movement and ensure his many and ever-appearing descendants will exist on a a liveable planet.

Aaron Brennan is lucky to own a workout space called the Shed (because it is one). Climate action groups could use this as a space for meetings or workshops if the gym equipment was pushed to one side.

I would suggest Toadie offer his legal services to the climate movement, but I’m on their side, so I won’t.

Protest and civil disobedience

If the last ten years has taught us anything, it’s that petitions and television debates aren’t enough to produce action on climate. It’s time for non-violent protest and civil disobedience.

Residents of Ramsay Street have long recognised the value of direct action and have a long and proud history of protest and civil disobedience including:

It’s fair to say that this activism has had mixed value and results, but clearly the passion is there.

Ramsay Street residents could join a climate-action organisation like Extinction Rebellion Australia and create a Ramsay Street Affinity Group to organise their own actions. Activists should focus on pressuring all levels of government to introduce emergency measures to reduce carbon emissions to zero.

Getting arrested raises the profile of a protest significantly. Most people on Ramsay Street have done time or live with someone who has. Therefore, they know that our justice system is flawed, and prisons are brutalising. Using the justice system to draw attention to the climate emergency is a significant step that individuals need to consider carefully. The good news is that once the decision is made, it’s not hard to get arrested on Ramsay Street, even on your wedding day.

Ramsay Street’s climate activists will be sure to attract a lot of police and media attention if they blockade Lassiters or take the cul-de-sac for a day. Civil disobedience will inconvenience others, and will be criticised by some people. However, we know the Neighbours aren’t scared of confrontation and difficult conversations or they wouldn’t keep starting intergenerational intra-familiar love-triangles.

Energy generation

Shane Pufferfish Rebecchi has invented some ingenious energy-generation devices, notably a piss-powered generator that works by converting urine to water. Puffy’s work is admirable and exciting, however, no one should rely on a new invention to ‘solve’ the climate crisis. The science and engineering needed to meet our energy needs and reduce carbon emissions to zero largely already exist. It’s the political will to implement them that’s lacking.

The good news is that Ramsay Street’s houses are ripe for solar panels. Projections show that the Ramsay Street houses would easily host the current maximum solar system for residences of 6.6kW, which during summer would produce enough power to cool the houses and still export the maximum allowed feed into the grid of 5kW for the brightest parts of the day. The average electricity use for Victorian households is 5,000kW per year and these systems would produced twice that. Karl and Susan apparently have 17 bedrooms, so they may use more, but it would basically be a big carbon saving.

 

  1. Aerial view of suburban cul-de-sac with position of solar panels marked on roofs.

    Potential solar panel positions.

Summary

Frankly, it’s a scary time to be alive. However, that has always been the case in Erinsborough. That community has faced numerous challenges including the highest murder rate in the world, endemic amnesia and regular explosions.

If there’s a group of people who know what to do in an emergency, it’s Neighbours’ Ramsay Street residents. I wish them, and the rest of us, the best of luck.

Advice Recap

Saturday April 29th, 2017 in Television | No Comments »

Aaron and David talking in 'Neighbours'.

Usually I fold the washing or try to touch my toes (I can’t) while watching Neighbours but today I’ve decided to type. I’m taking this step because I’ve had e-flipping-nough of the washing and my shins (knees on a bad day).

In summary, Friday’s episode of Neighbours (epidsode 7590!) was all about advice, solicited and otherwise.

The day kicks off with the two teachers who shagged earlier in the week meeting awkwardly during their morning exercise. Finn wants to tee up a date but Ellie is like nah I have marking because I’m a teacher.

In the Kennedy home, Susan tells Toadie he’ll have to do some jobs now that his arm’s out of a plaster. I’m pretty sure people with one arm can still do housework, but anyway. Susan offers Toadie a choice of mowing the lawn or doing the laundry. This is what you do with toddlers; the choice gives them a feeling of control. Unfortunately, it’s trickier with people who can reach the door handle and Toadie gets out of housework because he receives an envelope. It is never good news when a lawyer gets an envelope and this one puts Toadie in a foul mood. There’s no time to put a load on apparently and he leaves immediately for the office. The fact that he has avoided doing the washing is never resolved and has put me in a stinking mood too.

Piper and XanCan are out the front of a caravan like they’re in Summer Bay. They’re not, they’re at a suburban backpackers. When Pippa, I mean Piper complains about the loud music a Bad Backpacker comes on too strong, claiming to know a lot about the Asia Pacific region. XanCan sticks up for her friend by pointing out that Piper is already owned by someone else. The Bad Backpacker implies Piper’s boyfriend Tyler is stupid.

Tyler is at the Rebecchi Law/Brand Enthusiasm headquarters breaking the news to his brother Aaron that he’ll be in Daylesford for the weekend. Apparently Tyler and Ben will be doing a mechanics course but I think we all know they’ll be visiting the lavender farm and drinking from the mineral springs. Tyler gives Aaron advice about love. Tyler has it all sorted out because he’s a 25-year-old living with his school-aged girlfriend in the mezzanine of a tin shed. This sounds wrong on paper but as many people have pointed out, it’s not actually illegal! Aaron says again that he wants David to to explore all there is out there, which may take some time.

Toadie turns up at the office looking grumpy in pastels, a world first. I hope Susan enjoys washing the angry, bitter sweat from that synthetic fabric later in the week because Toadie has tested her boundaries and now that he knows he can get away with it, he’ll never do washing again.

When Father Jack is not knocking up his parishioners he gives them advice like a machine. Naturally, David is keen to tell Father Jack he has come out. Jack is very accepting and likens this experience to becoming a priest. David seeks Father Jack’s advice on how to approach Aaron twice during the episode and Father Jack uses neither opportunities to tell David he’ll go to hell for being gay, maybe because Jack’s not on the clock. In the cafe, the new Rebecchi overhears that David is unlucky in love and advises him to try flattery. I like this idea. David could say something like, “Aaron, you’re really good at Tweeting” or “You haven’t punched anyone in the head and left them for dead in a car park for like a year now!”

Ellie and Susan Kennedy are having a Nescafe and chat. Ellie is seeking Susan’s “good instincts” but Susan is reluctant to give her niece advice. In the end Ellie persuades Susan that one little nugget of wisdom can’t possibly hurt, and Susan advises Ellie to put the brakes on her relationship with Finn. XanCan is eavesdropping through the fly screen door and hears the whole thing!

Back at the backpackers a game of dodgeball is afoot but it’s a violent, foreign form of the game. Tyler and the Bad Backpacker have words while the other backpackers watch and snigger. Neighbours is doing nothing for the reputation of backpackers and I suspect we will have to do a special episode of Neighbuzz on media representations of travellers with bags rather than wheeley-suitcases.

XanCan tells Finn, her teacher, what she has overheard through the flyscreen door. He asks her for a XanCan Special and we are left to assume they will one day root.

Toadie is still very angry in his pastel shirt. He is so angry that he gives Aaron some home truths, suggesting that Aaron’s business Brand Enthusiasm is a flop. Toadie is being very negative, and I suggest that rather than carping at Aaron he should put that energy into scrubbing Susan’s smalls.

Back at the backpackers the aggression is through the roof and the music is still very loud. Tyler snatches a phone and kicks the Bad Backpacker out. This is a wonderful opportunity for the Bad Backpacker to go somewhere good, but will he take it?

David pops into the Rebecchi Law/Brand Enthusiasm headquarters and tries to give Aaron a compliment. Instead of taking my advice and praising Aaron for not committing GBH recently, David chooses to focus on Aaron’s physical appearance. David then asks Aaron out to dinner. Aaron is cross. David is being too pushy and needs to back off and stop popping into Aaron’s work to sexually harass him.

Back at the backpackers Ben tells Tyler he needs to apologise to Piper before they leave for Daylesford to have a high tea and check out the antique shops…I mean, do their engine-fixing course. Tyler approaches Piper but merely manages to perpetuate the fight rather than resolve it. Piper says she doesn’t need to be protected and tells Tyler to go. On his departure the Bad Backpacker appears immediately and is inappropriate again. It would appear that Piper does need Tyler to protect her, which had better not be true.

So that’s it. Here’s how I score the advice givers in this episode.

Susan: She showed the kind of faux-reluctance to give an opinion that lends advice more weight – and she also happened to be right. 9/10

Tyler: He has fundamentally failed to realise that he and Piper are not an inspiring example of how to do love. 2/10

Father Jack: He pretended he doesn’t know how to pick up, a clear lie, but at least he didn’t tell David that he loves the sinner but not the sin or something awful like that. 7/10

The New Rebecchi: He tells David to flatter Aaron. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that the New Rebecchi didn’t know Aaron has already asked David to stoppit. Better advice for David would be, “Stoppit”. 5/10

Toadie: We all know Brand Enthusiasm is really just Aaron’s Twitter account and a couple of sausages, but shhh Toadie, you are the owner of Rebecchi Law and 1,000 polyester shirts. Get back to the laundry. 4/10