Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Opinion: options for our future

At Tim Flannery's recent public lecture in Dunedin, the author of 'The
Future Eaters', 'The Weather Makers' and other books on Climate
Change delivered a broad and motivating lecture to about 1000 people.
As the scientific evidence of dramatic climate change just keeps on
getting scarier a common individual response he identified and we all
recognise, is for people to go into denial, or simply refuse to act.

Our highly individualistic society seems ill-equipped to make the
necessary collective adaptations. But is it really so dire? As Tim
pointed out, it is far easier for individuals to take action when
there are structures in place to facilitate action and adaptation. One
of the key structures is politics. If we allow our political
institutions to fill with people who happily flare off methane,
support costly white elephants over basic, resilient infrastructure,
and who refuse to act when the public will is clear, then we limit our
options severely.

Local body elections are coming up and as Tim pointed out to the
audience, this is a moment when individuals can make a difference to
the structures, and change the framework. So we need to ask our local
body candidates where they stand, what they intend to do, and examine
their record if they have been part of the structure in the past. It's
a mistake to think that the Community Board and Council are irrelevant
– just look at our water, and the proposed waste charges. Just like
the household orchard, its time to choose the strong budding branches,
cut out the old irrelevant dead wood and prepare to harvest the new
fruit as the weather warms. It's time to make our votes count.

by Scott Willis

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