Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Eco-equality - saving the world for all, not just the rich

Apologies - yes, it's been a while since I last posted. Things have been very busy at work and home, so besides the crush on the demands on me, there just hasn't been the time to sit and write all things that have been swirling in my head for this blog. But I thought I'd share a few notes.

One thing foremost on my mind is the Tim Flannery keynote address for the Melbourne Writers Festival last Friday. I promised to blog on the Festival where I could, and Flannery's speech on global warming has given me much to think about. While I don't have the time to work through all the issues I'm reflecting on regarding Flannery's key approach to dealing with global warming (which can be summed up as 'green consumerism'), I can at least share as a first response these compelling ideas about eco-equality by Van Jones that has posted on their site:

This new green wave of technology... of opportunity... lends itself to a question: will the green wave lift all boats, or will we have eco-apartheid? Will we have some communities with solar-this and bio-that and organic-the-other, and other communities like Oakland, with cancer clusters and pollution pockets, kids with asthma... or will we have eco-equity?

[What if] we make a decision as a movement to say 'no, no - we have to rescue life on this planet, and we have to do it collectively. We have to build an ark, so we can put the failing communities on it. Then you begin to have a new politics; it's a politics of real solidarity. It's a politics that says: The only way for these new environmental solutions can work is if the majority of people can embrace them. Suddenly the young people who don't have any jobs have a reason to talk to the environmentalists - why? Because you can offer them jobs. Putting up the solar panels. Retrofitting the buildings. There're jobs and opportunity that you can offer to young urban youth that right now don't care about environmentalism... dignified work that can help save the planet. Making a declaration [that] those communities that were locked out of the last century's pollution-based economy will be locked in to the new clean and green economy.
Right on. It is worth remembering that those who will suffer the worst affects of global warming will most clearly be those disadvantaged socially, economically, and culturally - not just geographically. As a reminder, on this first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, let's remember how it was predominantly poor, African American and Hispanic people who were most tragically affected.

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At September 01, 2006 5:08 pm, Blogger cristy said...

Great post Mark. It sounds like an interesting talk. I wish I could have been there.

At September 01, 2006 5:47 pm, Blogger Mark Lawrence said...

Hi Cristy, it was interesting, but I feel the night was a bit flat - somehow, I felt Flannery didn't go very far in what he could have tackled. Perhaps it would have been different for others in the audience with less knowledge of some of the global warming debates, though that struck me as unlikely the audience would have held many un-converted.

(He did, however, give me lots to think about, as I said in my original post. I'll give him that.)

And the nuke controversy fizzles, as Flannery purposely defused any negative debate at the start. I'm dissapointed no one really took him to task for some of his arguments pro-nuclear.

Still, he did cover some new ground and new facts to underscore what he sees as the added urgency – that climate change is affecting our planet far more quickly than originally estimated – including Inuit finding drowned polar bears for the first time in their memory.

I heard about the ACF's Lowe's address to the National Press Club on the ABC, and I think that would be a good indicator of how the rest of the green movement is tackling the issue.

Hey, cool. The ACF have posted Ian Lowe's Press Club address online here.


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