Managing the Uncertainties of Global Change
Can we afford to save civilisation or would we rather keep energy costs down while we hurtle off the cliff into collapse? Paul Guilding
This week Australia21 released its report of a high level conversation held in Canberra earlier this month about the risks facing Australia from global change.
A group of fourteen, mainly Canberra-based experts in climate change, sustainability, public health, public policy, security, economics, energy and ecology met for two hours for a wide ranging audio-taped conversation with futurists, Norwegian Professor Jorgen Randers and Australian Paul Gilding.
Both men are authors of arresting books about global change. Randers was a co-author in 1972 of “Limits to growth” and has recently published “2052,” which updates the earlier work and contains his sober forecast for the next forty years. Gilding’s book, “ The Great Disruption” offers a different scenario that anticipates dramatic change earlier.
The meeting of experts agreed that risks from climate change are turning out to be more serious and more urgent than earlier predictions suggested and that the greenhouse threat could be addressed at relatively modest economic cost if the world could summon the political will, urgently to transfer energy systems away from fossil fuels.
But there was also agreement that our Australian leaders and much of the population are in denial (or studiously unaware) of the realities of global change and that we need an analysis and broader understanding of Australian vulnerabilities to the kinds of shocks that global change is bringing with it. This, the group believes, will open opportunities for new industries, interesting new jobs, genuinely sustainable regional growth, better homes and transport, healthier diets and happier lives – all things that Australians want.
The report of the discussion can be downloaded from:www.australia21.org.au
The chair of the mini-roundtable, Emeritus Prof Bob Douglas AO, said today: “We need as a nation to move beyond our current level of denial of the risks ahead and build resilience in our culture and our social systems to manage them. The discussions with Prof. Randers and Paul Gilding have identified a constructive course of future action, which Australia 21 is now exploring.
The lack of a forceful dedicated response to climate change in the first half of the 21st Century will put the world on a dangerous track towards self reinforcing global warming in the second half. Jorgen Randers