Many believe we are enjoying the best of times. No doubt some are. To do this though, we have to believe that anthropogenic climate change is not real. We have to close our minds and completely ignore the terrible injustices that occur to our fellow human beings every day. We have to pay no heed to the environmental degradation and accelerated destruction of species.
To believe we are living in the best of times, we not only have to filter out these injustices, but we have to do so with absolute conviction. We have to believe that what we experience on a daily basis is the experience of all, or at least attainable by all. Further, we firmly believe our economic growth on this finite planet is justified because it will benefit everyone.
After all, for we who are fortunate and indeed very privileged in today's world, unemployment is low, the economy as a whole is doing well, life expectancy is increasing, technology is purporting to make our lives easier and more enjoyable and our consumption knows no bounds.
But at what cost?
This economic model we are wedded to is powered by fossil fuel and mineral resource extraction. The latter is likely to continue, albeit at a reduced rate, as we learn how to recycle the minerals we have already extracted, used and thrown away. The end is nigh for the former; this is clear given the emerging ethic of transformation around the world to renewable energies as a source of power. It seems the companies that make their money from the fossil fuel industry are in an unseemly race to get as much money from it as possible, before the window closes.
The economic model for the best of times would be one based on a knowledge platform of innovation and sustainability. Queensland should be leading the world in this domain.
As parts of the world are starving, in our 'civilized' society we are spending a vast amount of money trying to arrest diseases that result from over-eating. If ever there was a paradox demonstrating how we have deluded ourselves that we are in the best of times, this is it!
Just as our food choices will affect our health down the track, the decisions we make now for our planet will be far reaching. Most of us have created offspring in the belief that the future will serve them well. Whether it does, for now is in our hands.
We, with other industrialized nations, are living a lifestyle that is changing the global temperature. While being told that digging up and burning fossil fuels is a key driver of climate change, our state government in Queensland plans to double, even treble our coal exports by 2030. To build our economy around a commodity that is destroying the future is ill considered.
The Insurance Australia Group recently held a business round table with BP Australia, Origin, Swiss Re, Visy, Westpac and the Australian Conservation Foundation. They concluded that action on climate change is required on all fronts. They recognize the insurance industry will need to be key players as climate change is the outstanding major threat to their business survival.
We are living in the most affluent time in history, but our affluence has come at a massive cost to the planet we so depend on. I believe the most difficult insight for most of us is the realisation that we are changing the climate. It all seems so preposterous. But the evidence is that our choices are destabilizing the climate.
We have been told, as recently as April this year, by the Climate Commission that unless we reduce our emissions within ten years, the warming we are causing will be irreversible and ever increasing. If this isn't serious, then God help us. It's going to be a very rough ride, especially for our children.
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