Sustainability Bites

There is no such thing as a free lunch

business as usual

BAU and the green button syndrome – it’s the end of the world as we know it, so push the button again

BAU and the green button syndrome – it’s the end of the world as we know it, so push the button again

To quote a much (over) used aphorism, ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’ It sums up our approach to sustainability. I call this the ‘green button syndrome’, and to appreciate it, think of the world as a photocopier. It’s also a good way of understanding our policy response to mass coral bleaching.

This is not ‘higher than average’, this is the new normal

This is not ‘higher than average’, this is the new normal

NOAA has declared a Global Mass Bleaching Event and Australia’s Prime Minister races to the Great Barrier Reef to make an announcement! At last, the world is responding to the existential threat of climate change. But wait, what’s this; the PM is actually in Gladstone (at the southern end of the GBR) to celebrate the shipping of fossil fuel to Asia! Is this some sick parody? No, it’s real life. Welcome to the new normal – just like the old normal but with none of the certainty we once all enjoyed.

The cognitive dissonance in dealing with mass coral bleaching

The cognitive dissonance in dealing with mass coral bleaching

The Great Barrier Reef is facing an existential threat of our own making. We know what the solution is but our current governance around the Reef is inadequate to meet the challenge.
We can’t speak truth to power; science does not guide our decision making; and we can’t acknowledge that current economic priorities (and vested interests) mean that “the best managed reef ecosystems in the world” is being hung out to bleach.

Trump and the crazy ants – focus on the system, not the symptom

Trump and the crazy ants – focus on the system, not the symptom

‘Trumpism’ is a bit like crazy ants? Both require certain system conditions for them to become super pests. Throwing Trump in jail won’t remove the threat. The conditions for Trump’s ascendency are still present and will enable the next ‘crazy man’ to do just as much damage. We need to remediate the craziness and address the gaps in society that let so many people believe the system isn’t working for them.

Turning points and tipping points – the road ahead and taking on BAU

Turning points and tipping points – the road ahead and taking on BAU

The road ahead is unclear and uncertain. ‘Business as usual’ has us thinking it will be much as it has been in the past but it’s likely humanity is approaching major tipping and turning points.
Turning points make sense of history and are like looking behind in the rearview mirror to better know where we have come from so that we can drive better. Tipping points are about carefully looking at the road in front of us to anticipate the risks ahead and to take appropriate action to avoid the hazards.

The future present: BAU & Climate Change

The future present: BAU & Climate Change

What do we know, more or less, for sure about the future? First, the world is getting hotter at a faster rate. Second, maintaining or increasing greenhouse emissions will result in substantial temperature increases within coming decades that entails substantial costs and risks. Third, carbon sequestration, over the coming few decades will only make, at best, a very marginal contribution to lowering atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Fourth, despite the rhetoric, the world’s greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rise to at least 2030. These are our future certainties under business-as-usual. Much of the uncertainty about what the future holds is about what we choose to do about it.