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Global warming's canary in the coal mine

In drought-riddled Australia, the effects of global warming are rippling through the economy -- affecting everything from farming to mining. It may even swing the next national election


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But now we hear that Murdoch has gone green. In recent months, Rupert Murdoch announced that all of his operations would slash their energy consumption and, with the help of purchased carbon offsets, become carbon neutral. In addition, his media companies will start promoting awareness about climate change.

If indeed governments have no more power than what corporations like Murdoch's allot to them, then I suppose we should celebrate Murdoch's initiative. But on the other hand, when you look closely into the history of how he has operated you learn that after helping to toss out Whitlam, Murdoch didn't back the conservative opposition. Instead, he helped the next Labor government into power: the CIA-friendly government of Bob Hawke. He is a master at subverting social movements to his own purposes.

One view of Rupert Murdoch is that he simply hates to back losers. In that case, it's somewhat comforting to know that he sees global warming as a winning issue. But it's also important to ask how he will skew public awareness toward solutions that bring him and others of his class personal advantage, but aren't necessarily the best for the planet. Our best hope is that people will continue to be way out ahead of both government and News Corporation, and be actively involved in leading the way.

Many Australians I met seemed to feel that the land down under is perpetually behind the rest of the world. But this year Oz has a chance to take the lead and be the first to turn the losers out.