Paradigm shift

At the launch of a $40 million carbon sequestration trial project near Nirranda in Victoria yesterday, Australian Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said new coal-fired power stations are inevitable and carbon storage technology must be developed to tackle climate change.

“We must succeed … because Australia is … a fossil fuel dependent economy and our major export is coal… there is no alternative,” Ferguson said.

So… Australia’s economy depends on coal, therefore the solution to climate change must involve using coal. Except carbon capture isn’t proven. What if it doesn’t work? Is there still no alternative?

Ferguson’s comments are an example of something I’ll be highlighting a lot in this blog – the need for paradigm shift.

A paradigm is the dominant core principle; our society is currently organised around a paradigm of economic growth. As Bill Clinton famously said: “It’s the economy, stupid.” We need a new paradigm focused on sustainability. In other words: “It’s the environment, stupid.”

Ferguson and his ilk are locked into the old paradigm – economic growth is essential, we’ll do our best for the environment within that framework.

The new paradigm would put it the other way round – saving the environment is essential, we’ll do our best for the economy within that framework.

What people like Ferguson don’t seem to grasp is without the environment, there will be no economy. It’s not a choice.

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