• Ann Taylor

Change bad economics for good

What’s not to like about Robert Redford – my Hollywood crush, great-looker, great actor, great director, and environmentalist. As reported in Time magazine May 13 2019, he outlines that as much as he care’s deeply about issues like “collusion, obstruction of justice, impeachments or not, greedy tax breaks, medical care for all or none, refugees seeking compassion at [country] borders’, none of it matters “without a planet to live on”.

What’s your view of the state of the world?

My view? I can be very despondent at times, and distressed by the suffering of millions of people…but I do have hope-ism that good changes are possible.

In this video David Attenborough outlines four goals to enable humans to regain a balanced co-existence with nature:

  1. Phase out fossil fuels (which have many adverse environmental and health impacts)

  2. Improve efficiency of food production and produce healthier foods (including reducing meat consumption)

  3. Better manage our oceans to allow recovery of ocean life (that provides environmental services and fishing resources)

  4. Rewild the world (because biodiversity is crucial).

In the feature documentary, “2040”, Damon Gameau shows us – with marvellous visuals and entertaining story telling – that these goals are attainable because the knowledge and the technological solutions are already available.

He shows us the real possibilities for phasing out fossil fuels, with community based micro-grid energy systems (also an economic boost for the community) and alternatives to private car ownership with autonomous on-demand vehicles and creative public transport systems.

These changes then help free up urban land – from carparks and factories – that can be re-purposed for food production: outdoors and indoors, plus on rooftops and in vertical gardens. These increase plant food, which we need more of with less meat, for better health; plus green spaces are so good for our mental health! Broad acre farming practices can be changed (as many farmers are showing) to produce more nutritious food in more fertile and organic rich soils, restored from a degraded condition by using plants to draw down carbon from the atmosphere. This then helps reduce the atmospheric carbon dioxide driving climate change. Organics are also returned to soil by freeing cattle from feedlots and returning them to pasture grazing, where they can leave their manure to be recycled into the soil and can feed on grass, which is what they need, rather than grains and soy, which sickens them. Without the need for growing vast amounts of animal feed (which is unnatural food for them), more land is freed up for growing the plant food that humans do need and for rewilding – reforestation, for all the biological services and biodiversity habitats that forests provide.

Restoring ocean life is also conceivable with permaculture taking to the oceans aka marine permaculture. What’s not to like about the potential of seaweed farming: habitat for marine life; sequestering carbon; a nutritious food source.

It was wonderful too to hear men articulate the value and importance of educating and empowering women for a sustainable future. It’s not just about reducing birth rate, but also about benefiting from their intelligence and compassion in leadership and community advocacy.

The challenge is not lack of solutions, but lack of will and obstruction by those in positions of power who have vested interests in existing production systems and self-interest in their personal wealth protection. Yes, we fear change – loss of familiar jobs, status and income; here too Damon suggests new possibilities: instead of subsidising old production systems, redirect funding to retraining people for new jobs in the cleaner economy.

As Robert Redford would agree, all this striving to maintain the current economic model is pointless if our plant becomes unliveable. As Paul Hawken says “It’s time for a new economic model that benefits all people while staying within the means of the planet.”

I encourage you to watch “2040” and be inspired to take action, step-by-step, to divest ourselves of old bad habits of consumption and embrace new possibilities.