Our political system has been terrible at solving our environmental problems. Journalist and author George Monbiot proposes a new way.
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It’s not surprising George Monbiot has written this book. His regular column on the environment in The Guardian is always a great read – cutting, well researched, eloquent – but in total, well, a tad depressing. Or should I say challenging?
Challenging as with each article you think: we (humans) are in deep shit. Monbiot articulates the many, major things going wrong on the environmental front. And to make matters worse, there’s solutions staring us in the face.
The underlying snag, as Monbiot so often points out, is our dumb politics getting in the way.
No wonder then Monbiot started thinking about changing politics itself. You know, so it might help make life on the planet better, rather than worse.
Last year I heard a speech by Professor Jeff Sachs which crystalised a lot of things for me. (Sachs is a Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.)
I’m giving a speech myself soon at The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. It’s for Design Week and it’s about ‘the importance of creativity for sustainability’. In preparing I’ve found myself coming back to Sachs’s talk at Sydney Uni.
Reason being Sachs puts the whole damn thing in context. He describes how we got to where we are now, how special our time is, and how we are at a watershed moment in human history where we’re going to have to make a fundamental shift to a sustainable economy.
In this post I’ve included a synopsis of the Sach’s speech and links to a podcast of it. I’ve also posted some notes from my proposition that creativity is going to be key in re-thinking and changing how we live.
A decade ago Germanys uptake of solar energy was on par with Australia. But thanks to an innovative financial incentive, Germany has surged ahead. So much so, its renewable energy is now a mainstream industry and a leading employer in that country.
Audio: Markus Lambert explains the effect the electricity feed-in tariff has had in Germany.
The good professor has a message for the sceptics who still don’t believe in climate change and the scaremongers who would have us believe the sky will fall in if we re-gear our economy to lower our carbon emissions. Listen to the podcast interview with Ross Garnaut on climate change.
The previous conservative government in Australia may well have been the first in the world to have lost office because it ignored climate change (and refused to sign the Kyoto protocol.)
The day of the election at the end of 2007, I went to a polling both to gauge the mood of the people – for change generally and to check the importance of the environment in their decision making. Listen here to what they had to say: election day vox pops.
The booth was at Sydney’s Bondi Beach in the contentious seat of Wentworth. Wentworth was held by Malcolm Turnbull – who was at that stage Environment Minister.