Sustainability Bites

There is no such thing as a free lunch

economics

Transition versus transformation; change is needed but how fast?

Transition versus transformation; change is needed but how fast?

Given the risks of catastrophic climate change, a possible anthropogenic mass extinction event, and seriously bad and irreversible climate tipping points, a precautionary approach to managing the future must rapidly decouple, in absolute terms, economic growth from environmental impacts. This requires much more than ‘steady-as-she-goes’ transitions. Despite this, ‘transitionists’ hold the floor. Quentin Grafton discusses the folly of accepting the ‘transition’ line of reasoning.

The sceptical economist

The sceptical economist

“What we are hearing and reading and seeing is a continuation of the grand rhetoric from the Rio Earth Summit over thirty years ago in which ‘Business-As- with modifications’ will give us richer tomorrows with no sacrifices today. It’s based on the fantasy that carbon offsets and credits, the planting of one trillion or more trees, and advanced machines can suck enough carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to set the world right.This is a sort of a Business-As-Usual with ‘market and technology extras’ that will allow us, with a few tweaks, such as driving an electric vehicle (EV), to carry on as we have always done. If only this were true. Business-As-Usual, even with all the brightest bells and squeakiest whistles, will continue our trajectory towards catastrophic consequences.”
Quentin Grafton

Have we learnt nothing? Don’t put all your (biodiversity) ‘eggs’ into a single (market) ‘basket’!

Have we learnt nothing? Don’t put all your (biodiversity) ‘eggs’ into a single (market) ‘basket’!

Before we commit all our ‘biodiversity eggs’ to the ‘market basket’ and leave saving Nature to the market traders, could we quickly reflect on what’s been done in the past to save biodiversity? How did we attempt to protect Nature before markets were put forward as our road to salvation? What are the lessons? Those lessons would include attention to governance, resourcing, inclusion and justice. Ignore these dimensions and there’s little prospect that a market-driven approach is going to achieve anything better.

Passing the buck – the rights and responsibilities of fossil fuel divestment

Passing the buck – the rights and responsibilities of fossil fuel divestment

Based on a realistic costing of the impacts of climate change in coming years* and being realistic about the tiny chance that the big corporates play fair (ie, be true to their social responsibility and not interfere with governmental policy), I think the best we could hope for might be governments stepping in and buying out the whole fossil fuel sector at some cut (heavily-discounted) rate based on their falling asset value.

Last chance to see

Last chance to see

If society was to really to engage with the sustainability of tourism in an uncertain future then maybe we should be talking about how we can protect the many environmental and cultural values of our top tourism destinations in a way that doesn’t involve travelling to see them.

Health trumps economy; economy trumps environment

Health trumps economy; economy trumps environment

Of course, every decision has a cost, but these costs vary over time and space with different impacts on different people. The costs that matter most to our political leaders are those costs their voters perceive to be the most important to them. At this instant, voters are most scared about the immediate health implications of an unravelling pandemic.