Editorial – August 2018

This editorial is being written on the day after the spill in parliament and following the decision of the government to downgrade the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) as the countries energy policy. Perhaps this analysis is water-under-the bridge given all that is happening but here is our two-bobs worth.

One of the interesting components of the NEG debate was how the environment and finances were set in opposition with each other. Economics and ecology (environment) are what we call binary opposites and in that sense they lie in opposition to each other. What tends to happen with binary opposites is that people often employ a dualistic thinking habit and select one component and dismiss the other. What we end up with is all of something and nothing of something else.

In the case of the NEG it was all about lowering power prices and in the end it had little or nothing to do with emissions. At this point in the debate it was economics (1) and ecology (0). And all this happened as the symptoms of climate change raged on around the world – drought in Australia, fires in California, huge floating icebergs off the coast of Iceland, and temperatures of 40 degrees in Europe. The only cry coming from the right wing of the government was to “ditch the Paris agreement” and “let’s build another coal fired power station!”

Is there another pathway that the politicians may have taken? We suggest the following possibility. We recommend ditching dualistic thinking and embracing a cooperative framework which could be called unity or holism. Here is how it works.

In a dualism (like economics and ecology) it is a matter of determining which of the two components is the most significant in terms of its positive impact on the world. The quality that is determined is labelled as the Master, and its opposite becomes the Slave. In our example Ecology is the Master and Economics the Slave since ecology is the foundation ‘stone’ for life on the planet. We can do without money but we can’t do without ecology. Now what is actually happening as evidenced by the NEG debate is the reverse; it is Economics that is proving to be the Master and Ecology its Slave.

This is not to dismiss economics but to place economics within a context that is critical to the survival of the planet.

To re-run the NEG debate using non-dualistic or holistic logic is to raise the emissions target much, much higher than prescribed by the government. In fact, a far better solution would have been to put a price on carbon, and ultimately that will have to happen.

The concept of the Master and the Slave was first mentioned by Einstein. It was later expanded on by Scottish psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist in his book the Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World.

The duality thinking approach where economics takes all represents a pathway to ultimate destruction. In a metaphorical term it is like driving a car down a road to the edge of the cliff with no intention of taking the foot off the pedal.

Editor: Kerry Cochrane

Comments 1

  1. Well said Kerry. In this editorial you have applied AIEAs principles to NEG which, in all its political opportunism, its near vacuity when it came to act on climate change and its breathtaking vanity to call itself a policy was not only inaction but trying to turn the clock back. Having done nothing on energy prices themselves they have managed to reduce the most pressing threat of our time to some dollars and dragged us down to their low level. Looking at the ‘new team’ one can expect little better, but then, this may be enough to vote this government out and develop programs between states, industry and civil society which take us further. This is particularly important for farmers and aboriginal landowners who are at the forefornt of what is happening. One of the tragedies of the Australian Climate Paralysis is that farmers, who can either lose big time under this inaction, yet could also win much if landuse policies under LULUCF would be applied for THEIR benefit,are being shortchanged. The drought is a good example. Most will forget it when the rains come. Instead of carting hay to farmers, in particular the marginal ones which are now most affected, they could be the earners of very substantial incomes if they would have been allowed to play an active role in the return of woody vegetation on milions of hectares of degraded pasture on marginal land. This is what the United Nations has, in its Landuse, Landuse Change and Forestry Program (LuLUCF), promoted around the world and we are seeing great success stories. Our farmers could be part of this global action instead of being prevented from participating. Nothing has happened here over twenty years and more, although much of that was the obvious way to reduce the impact of droughts (to reduce sheep dependance and open other income sources), address pressing land and river degradation and biodiversity and wildlife loss and of course farmer poverty. Because this is what it must be called.Many of our farners have been driven into poverty because of this.

    What is curently happening around the world should deeply scare us instead of being called a ‘challenge’ by some of these horror figures who ‘govern’ our country and us. Anybody with eyes to see can make an effort to follow what is currently happening around the world. If they still do not see then one can only say: God help us!

    This is what Prof Schellnhuber* had to say recently:

    The State of Climate Change
    August 2018

    “Climate change is now reaching the end-game, where very soon humanity must choose between taking unprecedented action, or accepting that it has been left too late and bear the consequences.”…. the issue now “is the very survival of our civilisation, where conventional means of analysis may become useless”

    Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber*, for twenty years the head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and a senior advisor to Pope Francis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Union.
    *Schellnhuber is neither an alarmist nor a journalist but a very rational scientist who has been one of the leaders of the scientific community for two decades in this.

    This is getting beyond a joke but destroys the future of our children.The politicians here who have created this unbelievable mess, unique in the entire world, should be taken to court and held responsible for their inaction with their PRIVATE fortunes. Currently 1100 cases of class action have been taken around the world (e.g. 21 children sue the US government, 800 citicen of Netherlands will force their government to take action and so on and on). this is quite likely the way to go- as we know money talks. And it would be a very good idea if we, our civil society, scientists and farmers would, instead of competing for the silly grants they come up with to keep us dristracted, get together and take them to court. This is serious stuff, not for future prime ministers to take pieces of coal into parliament for a laugh.

    Johannes, AIEA member, 28.8.2018

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