Thursday, January 03, 2008


As we move into 2008, it is worth reflecting on the major shifts which took place in 2007. Two which stand out revolve around the shift in perspective which has taken place in relation to the environment, and the paradigmatic shift which has accompanied it. For too long the West has retained a focus on short-term outcomes, locally measured. With the embrace of the reality of substantially increased carbon emissions, even without agreement as to the overall impact, there has been a need to consider both the long-term implications of present actions, and at the same time the global implications. While the slogan “think locally, act globally” has been around for a while, the blind and slavish commitment to economic growth has meant that we have both thought and acted globally. Australian sentiment has been strong in this area – one of the major reasons put forward for opponents of signing the Kyoto protocol was that our contribution to global emissions was minimal. (This may be true on a quantum scale, but if the whole world were to emit carbon at a per capita rate equivalent to Australia, we would be in much deeper trouble – there is the example to be considered).
Nations are being forced to think in the medium-to-long term, projecting out towards 2020 and beyond to 2050. Never before has strategic thinking embraced such planes, except in the imaginings of scientific discovery. In the case of science, however, the narrow focus on a particular outcome has ignored the global implications.
A new wave of thinking is now required, beyond short-term growth projections, either in share market price or economic growth. We can no longer assume that any progress is linear, or without fallout into other sectors, other parts of the planet, or other aspects of creation. The major challenge is that there has been no dollar-cost to business or individuals for many of the actions which have created the predicament we are now beginning to embrace. Will we be prepared to accept such? And how can we keep governments accountable to these beyond their contribution to budget surpluses?
A new era of political and economic thinking is breaking in upon us. Times indeed are interesting.

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