Let our actions be the guardians of our dreams

6 Jun. 2007

End of the Australian CSIRO Sustainability Network

Since I arrived in Australia, I’ve been part of a Sustainability virtual network, fed by Elisabeth Heiji from CSIRO, an intelligent, sensitive and very coherent woman. Today the 14.000 people participating in the network received the newsletter with a note saying that was the last one, as CSIRO considered the program a proved success and would move resources to new initiatives.

I’d like to share with you some parts of Elisabeth’s last words to the network:

“Looking around, I see many of us thinking about sustainability – we may even be involved with it in our professional lives – but, whether as a result of inertia, complacency, the entrenched social systems around us, or a mixture of all of these, we are collectively doing very little personally in our homes and lifestyles. Actions such as replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents and installing low-flow shower heads barely scratch the surface and, furthermore, are consumerist solutions based on trading new goods for old. They fail to tackle the very basic issue of our reverence for the natural world and behaviour towards it. When change occurs at this more intrinsic level, it can radically transform for the better both our own wellbeing and our environmental footprint.”

She also quoted Manfred Lenzen saying that “troubling is the fact that research has indicated that there is little correlation between knowledge and concern and action: emissions attributable to households are strongly linked to consumer spending, which doesn’t seem to be affected by environmental issues, even when these issues and problems are well known by those households”

If welfare doesn’t improve our harmony with the planet, why a bigger government?

If wealth doesn’t really bring comfort for societies, why focus on economic development?

And the biggest of all:

If education doesn’t drive action, what does? Should we use the consumerism and create trends and fashions? Should we restrict our freedom and impose certain behaviours through law? Or should we finally accept that we only radically change in extreme situations?

What do you think?

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