Surviving and thriving in the 21st century: the harder reality of humanity’s road to the future

The report ‘Surviving and thriving in the 21st century’ from Australia’s Commission for the Human Future sets out clearly and with insight the major and inter-dependent challenges that will persist beyond the pandemic – including global warming, food insecurity, biodiversity loss, environmental degradation, resource scarcity and wealth inequality. Action is vital, but how to respond seems as elusive as ever.

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Regulation, tariffs and reform of supply chains: neoliberalism under pressure?

By Mike Scrafton | For the moment, reducing reliance on overseas supply chains appears to be a big lesson out of the COVID-19 pandemic. But reluctance to regulate corporate and commercial activity has been a hallmark of governments across the world. Are neoliberal governments capable of reversing the direction they have been taking for three or four decades?

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What COVID-19 tells us about preparing for global warming

The current crisis tells us some important things. The flaws in the neo-liberal model have been exposed. Democratic politics have been stressed to breaking point. The shocks to the economic, social and fiscal systems required to avoid dangerous climate change are shown to be unfeasible.

Denial, delay, and deflection over the climate science by democratic governments immersed in neo-liberal fantasies has set the world an unachievable target if dangerous global warming is to be avoided.

The extraordinary steps imposed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic are what is needed on a sustained basis if a limit of 1.5°C of global warming is to be achieved. And yet this period of lock-down, self-isolation, social-distancing, and commercial and industrial dormancy has already shown that the measures responsible are imposing on whole societies costs which cannot be borne for long.

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Conservatism and liberalism: the broken trajectories of modern politics

Modern politics in most democracies is largely organised around versions of the competing world views of liberalism and conservatism. But neither of the loose ideological gangs that cluster around the flags of the conservative and liberal camps (Right and Left) seem intellectually prepared to address the major problems facing the world.

To any clear-eyed observer the current trajectory is taking us to an undesirable place, and reliance on the earlier assumptions of some sort of meaning or progress, transcendental or immanent, unfolding into the future is insupportable.

The link between past and future is broken, and meeting today’s challenges needs to beign with a reorientation of political perceptions.

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COP25 Official Photo 2019

Democracy & ignorance: climate deniers and climate believers

It may be unrealistic to expect the normal citizen to become an expert on climate change, but excuses don’t wash for politicians – they should be well-informed, and government policies should be firmly-rooted in the best evidence and science.

Failed policies based on marketing undermine our political institutions, and Australian Prime Minister Morrison’s 29 January 2020 address to the National Press Club doesn’t cut it.

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Australia must adapt to a new climate reality

The future international environment is now coming into focus. It doesn’t look promising. Government approaches to defence and human security will need to undergo a radical reassessment if they are to ameliorate the adverse effects. Global warming and population growth will be the weft and warp.

Responding to recent suggestions regarding the development of a greater capacity for government to respond to climate-related events, this article suggests that dealing with the impacts of global warming must not become sidelined by narrowly defining it as a national security issue.

Instead, advisors and governments need a greater capability to understand global warming science and to effectively translate it into institutions, actions and public understanding.

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How good are (Australian) Royal Commissions?

Is Australian Prime Minister Morrison’s call for a Royal Commission on matters related to the recent bushfires just a smokescreen, an excuse for avoiding real action, or putting off a confrontation with the luddites in the Liberal Party Room, until at least after the next election? Or is it a genuine attempt to get a body of evidence and a report on which the government could build a holistic strategy for addressing global warming, which should be applauded?

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Crisis and the Transformation of Government Administration

The Thodey Review of the Australian Public Service is set against a backdrop of four simultaneous and momentous crises before which modern democracies seem impotent; global warming, population growth, wealth inequality, and a dangerous geostrategic shift. Is the APS as reformed by the Thodey Review going to be up to the task of supporting ministers facing this level of overwhelming uncertainty and risk management?

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