Tag Archives: climate change

one-way-another-way-sign-300x266Just like sex, climate change and sustainability is a hot and steamy topic. One of the most common questions people ask when considering going green is: Where do I start? There seems to be 50 shades of green to choose from.

As with many areas of life that need urgent attention, going green also can seem confusing for many people. There’s probably not a person anywhere on the Earth that isn’t aware of climate change in some way and the need to care for our planet more, but where to start? The Earth is a big place, and while it’s very beautiful, it also has some increasing environmental challenges. Like many, you may be overwhelmed by what needs the most attention, and indeed, how you can make a difference. Well, that’s perfectly normal, and there is an answer.

Like any journey in life, start at the beginning. Take a single step, and take that step in your own home, backyard or business. Decide where you would like to be greener in your own life first. What needs greening? What can you do easily, with little or no effort or cost? Perhaps you’d like to be healthier, or chemical-free, or start a small vege and herb garden. It really is easier than you think and baby steps all added up really do make a difference. For example, by going chemical-free at home or work, you are stopping hundreds of litres of chemicals going down your drain and into your local and global waterways and oceans each year. You are just one person, but what a powerful step. What if everyone did the same thing?

Start in your own space first. Do what small things you can. Experience the positive results firsthand and feel good about your contribution to your environment. In time, you will even become an example to others, which we really need more of.

Visit our blog regularly or attend some of our events for more ideas on becoming greener. Earth care is no longer the domain of hippies and tree-huggers. It is everyone’s responsibility and you can make a difference.

Every change you make to be greener, however small, makes a difference to your planet and your health.

Manning Clark House organized a unique multidisciplinary conference entitled "Science and Ethics: Can Homo sapiens Survive?" at the Academy of Science in Canberra on 17-18 May, 2005. Drawing upon the expertise of speakers in a variety of fields including law, economics, medicine, politics, journalism, aboriginal affairs, earth sciences, religion, education, nuclear armaments, defence studies and ecology, the conference reached the conclusion that, while at risk from natural global disasters (supervolcanos or asteroid impact) and human-induced global impacts, Homo sapiens is likely to survive for the foreseeable future.

However, and this is just as important as the survival of the human species, civilization as we know it will not survive beyond a few decades unless there is a radical change in human culture, from a society driven by the pursuit of material wealth to one focused on human well-being. Science and the ethics of science are an aid to survival and indeed are necessary to address today’s risks and tomorrow’s possibilities.

There are several reasons for this, all of them reflecting applications and changed behaviours arising from advances in science and technology. Although these advances open doors for improvements in human health, wellbeing, and an increasingly open society, they also increase imbalances in wealth and power, raise barriers and foster exploitations in societies, and cause major changes to ecosystems and global systems.

The self-generated negative impacts include:

1. The explosive growth of the human population in the past sixty years and the inevitable addition of another two to three billion humans to the existing six billion by 2050.

2. The enormous global expenditure of nation states on military equipment, including nuclear arms, and the role of arms trade. The stockpiles of nuclear weapons held by several of the wealthy countries encourage rather than prevent the spread of nuclear arms capability to other nations.

3. The continuing overexploitation and pollution of land, fresh water and fisheries.

4. The increasing degradation of natural ecosystems, which provide irreplaceable "ecosystem services". The atmospheric pollution with greenhouse gases due to overuse of fossil fuels, which have a "life" of several decades, is already at dangerous levels, and emissions are still increasing globally.

5. Unless we focus on human wellbeing in place of material accumulation, the quality of life will decline. The likelihood is that this overexploitation will result in ever increasing conflicts, within and between nation-states, especially over supplies of fresh water needed for food production.

These multiple threats to human lives, health and well-being can only be attacked by a change in the behaviour of human beings from the current preoccupation with material wealth, that is, from a philosophy of "I want" to an acceptance of "I need", just enough to provide a fulfilling life. In fact, a focus on human well-being in place of material accumulation would actually improve the quality of life. Such a change requires a different approach to economic measurement, and the identification of objectives other than material gain.

These changes will have enormous effects on societies such as ours, effects that are likely to be resisted by corporations, advertisers and a public disenfranchised by monolithic mass media, education in decline, and low integrity in politics. In parallel with these changes, governments must ensure that the changes in employment that will follow, if this re-orientation of objectives occurs, are devoted to tackling the causes of each of the items mentioned above.

By Frank Fenner, Stephen Boyden, David Green, Andrew Glikson and Sebastian Clark