An item entitled Drift Towards Disaster in a recent issue of the Weekend Australian Review deserves wider attention (Allen, 2017). What makes it different from so many other treatments of ‘growth,’ ‘the environment’ and ‘human impacts’ is that it refers to an installation from the Fondation Cartier in Paris and currently at the Art Gallery of UNSW. An introductory video by Paul Virilio deals with recent population upheavals (said to be 36 million in 2008 alone). This is followed by ‘a curved diorama on which changing projections convey some idea of the reasons for these vast population displacements.’ Further sections cover environmental changes such as global warming and sea level rise. The whole installation brings together a vast amount of information in visual form and, in so doing, provides a way of coming to grips with, and powerful critique of, our collective addiction to endless growth and development.
22nd October, 2016, Banco Court, Brisbane
The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature is described as ‘a worldwide movement’ seeking to create ‘human communities that respect and defend the rights of nature.’ A founding member of this alliance is the AELA or Australian Earth Laws Alliance. Both organisations have held Rights of Nature (RON) tribunals, the most recent of which took place in the smart, modern surroundings of the Banco courtroom in Brisbane’s civil law precinct. Some 150 people were in attendance for this serious, yet inspiring and well-organised event.
Griffith University, Brisbane, 13th October 2015
It’s rare to attend an event such as this one that ticks nearly all the boxes. When my wife and I decided to register it was simply on the basis that it offered three consecutive sessions on issues of major significance. They were:
- Free speech, freedom of the press and integrity in journalism
- Big data, privacy and surveillance, and
- Climate change and climate justice.
The event was held at the impressive Brisbane Conservatorium on South Bank. A PDF of my write-up of the day is available here.
In Australia, as in most other places, Thursday August 13th 2015 came and went without any particular fanfare or comment. Yet on that day the Global Footprint Network (GFN) issued a press release that was picked up and commented upon mainly, it seems, by certain on-line ‘niche’ media. It turns out that August 13th was the day that humanity crossed a threshold that went far beyond the merely symbolic. It was the day in 2015 when the collective demands of humanity upon natural systems exceeded what can be regenerated within a year.
A large crowd turned out in Brisbane on Sunday 25th August to draw attention to proposed developments in northern Queensland adjacent to the reef. A rally was held in Queen’s Park followed by a good natured march around the CBD. The document below gives my impressions of the event. A few of the pictures I took on that day can be found on this site under ‘Images.’
Reflections on the Save the Reef Rally and March (To open click here)
Here are some other resources associated with the event and the vital issues it raises. To get a quick impression click on the Source News and ABC Reports below.
Bill McKibben’s piece on: How Australian Coal is Causing Global Damage: False Profits, was published in The Monthly, June 2013, No. 90.
Photos of the event: http://fightforthereef.org.au/photos-rally-for-the-reef/
The Source News Report: http://thesourcenews.com/2013/08/29/thousands-gather-for-rally-for-the-reef/
Also see Felicity Wishart, Politicians risk future of reef for sake of progress http://www.smh.com.au/comment/politicians-risk-future-of-reef-for-sake-of-progress-20130811-2rq4h.html Retrieved 12th August, 2013
I’ve just added a new section to the site.
It introduces five recently produced clips from a mid-2012 conference session in Toronto. The material may be useful to anyone wishing to review approaches to what, by any measure, is a vast and immeasurably challenging topic (but, I would argue, one we can no longer afford to ignore). It also acts as a kind of ‘marker in time’ that identifies the point that an extended conversation between Michael Marien, William Halal and myself had reached. We were also fortunate that Thomas Homer-Dixon was available to participate. If you only have time to view one clip, I suggest you look at his since there are few people anywhere with his depth of understanding and knowledge.
For the past year or so I’ve been working on project with the above title. I chose it because, rather than viewing the emerging planetary crisis merely in fatalistic or downbeat terms, I wanted to see if it was possible to re-frame it in a more positive light. Like most others who’ve been paying attention, I acknowledge the seriousness of our situation and also the fact that it could indeed bring the whole human enterprise to a relatively sudden and ignominious end. Given our careless uses of the environment and our penchant for ignoring planetary limits that, certainly, is the diminished future toward which many trends point.
Yet, as has been known for a long time, ‘trend is not destiny.’ With our in-built capacities for foresight, forward thinking, anticipation and choice, there’s still time to come to grips with our predicament and to change direction. Human destiny is not set in stone. We are perhaps the only animals that can see emerging futures clearly enough to make decisions about how our everyday modus operandi can affect our collective prospects for good or ill. The big question seems to be ‘can we change course in time?’ There’s plenty of evidence to support both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers.
As I discovered during my research, this fact provides a vital clue. While many continue to be entranced by the latest technological wonders – currently iPads and 3D televisions – the keys to our future lie elsewhere. But, as I reviewed a broad range of hard copy and on-line material, I found surprisingly few pointers to that widely overlooked territory.
The Biggest Wake Up Call in History is an attempt to apply what I’ve learned over some three decades of futures and foresight work. Ironically, therefore, I had to set aside nearly all of the ‘futures literature’ and to scan more widely than ever before. As a result this work makes reference to many different fields of enquiry. Key questions that arose were: how can so many contributions fit together within a coherent whole? Also, how can many different kinds of truth be honoured and adjudicated? There’s never likely to be an answer to such questions that will satisfy everyone. Pluralism reigns. The culture wars continue – both within nations and between different cultural spheres. Nor will the post-modern tendency to critique everything subside overnight. Complexity, pluralism and difference are here to stay. That said, a method that can handle such challenges is a vital part of any credible attempt to respond to a world in deep crisis.
I’ve found an Integral perspective useful as it is perhaps most able to provide a panoramic and in-depth view of the issues and concerns before us. As a perspective and method it is far from static. It is a process that evolves and changes from year to year. To the extent the present work succeeds, it is to no little extent a result of the power, depth and inclusiveness that this perspective offers.
The work will be published in eBook, PDF and hard copy formats. In the meantime here are two ‘tasters’ of what is to come – a draft introduction and chapter outline. To access the full work, you may want to bookmark this weblog and check back from time to time. Please also note that I’ve provided a visual intro and overview of the book on the page here that also carries the same title. To access it just click on the relevant entry on the upper right section of this front page. Another page records some of the early comments received in response to pre-publication drafts.
Introduction To open click here
Overview of chapters To open click here
How do you demonstrate the value of new thinking? One of the best ways, perhaps, is to show how it can be released from various ‘ivory towers’ and applied to pressing concerns in the real world. The Integral perspective has been around for some time so opinions will vary on whether or not it represents truly ‘new thinking.’ What is clear, however, is that it is being applied to some of the most intractable and serious global issues. Two papers are provided here that demonstrate this very clearly. One, by Barrett Brown and Don Beck, looks at ‘How to tailor public communications about HIV/AIDS to different worldviews.’ It not only provides a layered account of the characteristics and implications of five different worldviews it also provides some striking graphic examples that illustrate some of these differences. The summary table on p. 6 is particularly valuable and I’m grateful to the authors for allowing me to post the document here.
In April 2009 I placed on this site a series of in-depth reviews I’d written of a number of works on climate change and global warming. The second paper provided here is the full text of the work that eventuated. It is called ‘Beyond the threshold: using climate change literature to support climate change response’ and was published in the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice, vol. 4, no. 4, 2009, pp. 26-46. The paper explores patterns in the literature and makes suggestions about how the integral lens can both clarify issues and support necessary actions. It concludes by discussing new kinds of motivation that will be needed to resolve the global crisis.
These papers are two samples from a rapidly growing literature. For those who would like a concise overview of Integral theory, the most useful and concise introduction I know of is by Sean Esbjörn-Hargens and it can be found here: http://integrallife.com/node/37539
For the past several years I’ve been seeking out and reviewing some of what I consider to be the most useful works on climate change and global warming. The latter has become the single most serious threat to humankind, its world and other species. Yet social, economic and, in particular, political responses have, thus far, fallen a very long way short. So I decided to write a paper that employs integral methods to look beyond the current ‘threshold’ of understanding and action where humanity currently seems to be ‘stuck.’ That paper, however, became much too long. So I’ve placed the content reviews here, where readers can find them, and will later detail where the main paper can be found.