Do green movements play the doom card too frequently? And, if so, does it matter?

These questions have been on my mind lately, particularly in relation to an article entitled “The Uninhabitable Earth” (link) which recently caught fire on social media. This post briefly considers these questions and related questions about human action on climate and energy issues. The questions are not simple or straightforward to consider, but topical high-profile …

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What’s the most important environmental problem? A (slightly) contrarian perspective

Lately I’ve seen the following James Gustave Speth quote shared on social media: When I read that quote I “groaned” a little. Cultural change is part of what’s needed, no doubt about it, but are the top problems “selfishness, greed and apathy”? Apathy can hamper any change effort, sure, but the emphasis on selfishness and …

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Review of Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming (Penguin Books, 2014)

It has been argued that two of the major virtues of capitalism are that it is highly adaptive and, secondly, that entrepreneurs and other actors in capitalist economies even finds ways of adapting to ruinous conditions and turning them to their advantage (i.e. they are often adept at finding and seizing new opportunities in a …

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Rethinking the received wisdom on ‘foresight’ practices

Early in my PhD studies I reviewed the literature on so-called ‘foresight’ practices such as on scenario-building, scenario-based planning, and techno-economic modelling. What came through clearly is that there is a dominant set of ideas about these practices. These ideas can be termed the received wisdom. These ideas include that foresight methods and practices are …

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Nicholas Stern on ‘why are we waiting?’ and the barriers to greater climate change action

The question of ‘why are we waiting?’ is one which Nicholas Stern addresses in his recent book Why Are We Waiting? The Logic, Urgency and Promise of Tackling Climate Change. It is a ridiculously big question for which there can be no single definitive answer, but the question is still worth asking and exploring. The …

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Reflexivity, experimentation and anticipatory action – considering Emma Marris’s Rambunctious Garden

For a while I’ve been meaning to re-read Marris’s book Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-wild World. The book’s central thesis is that we must abandon the idea that the central goal of conservation is to preserve nature in a pristine, prehuman state, and consequently must rethink conservation goals and practices. I recall at …

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Is scenario planning a good fit to the climate change adaptation problem?

Some researchers from the University of Melbourne have recently published an interesting paper entitled “The problem of fit: scenario planning and climate change adaptation in the public sector” in Environment and Planning C. The paper reports some of the findings of the ‘Scenarios for Climate Adaptation’ project which explored the use of scenario planning to …

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Emerging technologies that may “change the game” on climate change

In a brief talk entitled “Futures of Climate Change“, Brad Allenby – Distinguished Sustainability Scientist at Arizona State University (ASU) – outlines three areas of emerging technologies and argues that we are unhelpfully trapped in outdated mental models on climate change and related sustainability problems. The three emerging technologies are: Technologies for capturing carbon dioxide from …

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On the need for a genuinely sociological view of low-carbon transitions (and further moves in this direction by transition theorists)

Many sustainability activists frequently quote R. Buckminster Fuller, especially his well-known assertion that: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Frank Geels’ latest paper on low carbon transitions argues that Fuller is wrong and suggests an important change in direction …

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