Category Archives: climate change

The Third Sector holds the key to successful action on climate change

Stephen Hale is a former environmental policy adviser to the UK government from 2002-2006 who now directs the think tank Green Alliance. In his 2010 paper on “The new politics of climate change”, Hale articulates the reasons for the present failure to take meaningful action on climate change. Based on that analysis of failure, he explains how a successful response climate change might still be achieved.

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Filed under climate change, David, green politics

Preparing for the future: civil society, adult education, and Transition Towns

The massive upheavals and traumas that befell the nations of the former Soviet-bloc following the collapse of the Communist regimes provided a kind of ‘natural experiment’ for social scientists: their different experiences and outcomes can be compared, contrasted, and lessons drawn.

One of those lessons is about the value of civil society – that is, that sphere of voluntary collective interaction not organised by the institutions of government or markets. From this, I’d also like to draw a bow to what I see as the key value of adult education/ life-long learning and the Transition Towns movement.

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Filed under Barry, climate change, green politics, sustainability

Facing up to the climate crisis: despair, acceptance, action

Anyone who is paying attention knows what’s going on. We have the evidence of an inexorable increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases. We are familiar with the many indications of changing climate and a warming planet. We see widespread denial, some active but most of it passive. And we have witnessed the repeated failure of nations to take any significant action, unilaterally or collectively. Given these circumstances, is there any cause for hope?

Clive Hamilton believes not:

clinging to hopefulness becomes a means of forestalling the truth. Sooner or later we must respond, and that means allowing ourselves to enter a phase of desolation and hopelessness, in short to grieve.

What we must grieve for is the future humanity has lost or, rather, methodically destroyed through our own handiwork. In his grimly titled Requiem for a species, Hamilton faces up to this grief. His concern is to get us to consider how we can best respond to the grief and despair brought on by climate change. He asks, how should we adjust to a future that will be so different from that which we have come to expect?

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Some evidence in favour of our suggestions

Brief notes and (and links to) a few studies providing evidence in favour of some of our suggestions, and one looking at the case for a Financial Transactions Tax.

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Filed under Barry, climate change, economic analysis, sustainability

Poles Apart

Frustrated by the polarised debate on human-caused climate change Gareth Morgan and John McCrystal set out to evaluate the evidence for themselves. On the basis of this book, they apear to have been relentlessly open-minded in this quest…and in the end, they conclude that yes, we do need to be concerned. It is totally against the spirit of the book to point this out – but Gareth Morgan is noted for coming to his views independently and skeptically, plus he is an economist and – all other things being equal 🙂 – reasonably fond of economic growth – so if he thinks human-caused climate change is an issue we need to take seriously, it really is most likely that we do. But read the book – it ought to be convincing for anyone with an open-mind.

Morgan and McCrystal also take some shots at greenies and environmentalists for taking an irresponsible role in this debate, muddying the science with their keen-ness to use it when it suits to butress attacks on consumerism and capitalism that are primarily ideological (don’t worry they also take aim at fossil-fuel industry-funded deniers).

I think this criticism raises some valuable points for the green/environmental movement.

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The Overseas Expert and the climate change population myth

In an interview broadcast on TVNZ’s One News a couple of days ago, the renowned naturalist David Attenborough was asked about the politics of climate change. He answered by remarking that when he started making  tv programmes, the global human population was only one-third what it is now. The clear suggestion is that the growth in greenhouse gas emissions is caused by the growth in numbers of humans.

On the One News report, as usual, the Overseas Expert’s viewpoint went entirely unquestioned; to the casual observer it would seem the issue is simple and clearly understood. And so it follows that the solution to climate change is population reduction.

This idea could not be more wrong.

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Filed under Aotearoa New Zealand, capitalism, climate change, David

Copenhagen and the politics of unsustainability

COP15 in Copenhagen has made a “modest start” to dealing with climate change – according to participants such as UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and NZ climate change ambassador Adrian Macey.

Oh, the irony of such half-hearted spin … COP1 took place in Berlin in 1995. Now, fifteen conferences later we’ve finally got around to making a start.

In fact, of course, Copenhagen has simply been a failure followed by much dissembling. Action has been deferred yet again by the politicians and their sheepish accomplices who have found it too hard to be decisive. They have chosen to leave “making a start” to someone else at some point in the future.

When, as everyone knows, it will all be far too late.

This is – let’s be honest – dangerously self-destructive behaviour: a recognition of the need for change hand in hand with an absolute refusal to change. It is the politics of unsustainability in the most disastrous form imaginable.

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Filed under climate change, David, green politics, sustainability