Sunday, October 5, 2008

The tragedy of industrial civilization

I wasn't surprised by the 2008 Lowy Institute Poll, which revealed that Australians want action on climate change, but not if it costs jobs or hits them in the pocket.

I'm sure a poll in New Zealand - or anywhere else, for that matter - would come up with exactly the same result. Those who are prepared to make "sacrifices" for the sake of the environment are almost always those who are in a financial position to withstand a little "pain". They also tend to live in towns and cities, and to view the countryside as a place of recreation.

People who actually live in the countryside, and earn their living from the land, often have a radically different view of it. Try talking to a logger, for instance, about the need to preserve native bush, or to a farmer about the need to preserve wetlands. Such people are unlikely to look far beyond the next pay packet.

So in the end, only minor, token adjustments will be made in humanity's "flight path" - enough to convince people that "something is being done", but not enough to prevent us from hitting the mountain ahead. This is the tragedy of our industrial civilization.

For the record, the Lowy telephone poll of 1001 people, conducted between July 12 and 28, found that 21 percent of respondents were not prepared to pay anything extra on their electricity bill to help solve climate change.

Another 32 percent favoured paying only A$10 (NZ$12.26) per month extra on their electricity bill to help solve climate change.


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