Unit 1. Introduction

The introductory chapter reminded my of three principles underlying the whole approach to dealing with environmental issues. To me the three issues are: (1) The issues are so incredibly complex and mainly global in nature (particularly climate change); (2) there are so many differing views and agendas when it comes to addressing environmental issues and, (3) there are well established processes to deal with the first two issues and these processes recognise the complexity and vested interests in the issues.  Underlying these three issues is the foundation of uncertainty and this I itself is dealt with in science or academia by applying the precautionary principle, possibly one of the most important principles of dealing with environmental issues.

An example of the above is the views of regional communities who currently rely on coal for their livelihood, like the Hunter Valley in New South Wales or Gippsland in Victoria. These are communities that will essentially perish when coal mining, transportation and use comes to an end. Thus, they fight for survival and advocate for the use of fossil fuels in self interest. Politicians react to this pressure and put the good of these communities ahead of the global good. Some political parties have developed economic transformation programs for these impacted regions. My commentary ‘skims’ across the issues here but it demonstrates that (1) it is complex and in this case local self interest impacts globally, (2) there is self interest at work but there are real solutions that help all and (3) there are examples of industry assistance for government to follow – like the decommissioning of the motor vehicle manufacturing industry in Australia.

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