2015 QUT Grand Challenge Lecture – The Man Without a Face: Science, Power & Democracy – D Ritter

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2015 QUT Grand Challenge Lecture – The Man Without a Face: Science, Power & Democracy – D Ritter

you it’s it’s such a pleasure to be here and I’d like to really thank the Queensland University of Technology and particularly the Institute environmental futures for the invitation to come and talk as part of the Grand Challenge lecture series III I have to be honest I didn’t really know cutie prior to his trip and Jim Russo I think he’s here was kind enough to give me a tour yesterday and I mean the place is just absolutely extraordinary it’s Norman you’re you all know because you’re here but it’s not it’s not only in the buildings and the design and the sort of a care with which it’s being designed those wonderful Spanish debt but it’s actually the vibe of the place so I’ve really been regenerist welcomed and the body language is also positive people are smiling and its really frankly a wonderful advertisement for what a higher education can look like in the 21st century it seems to me that the place has got such a buzz about it so even if you’re all miserably bored by what I have to say this afternoon I’ve had a fantastic time so you know thank you for that um before I begin talking on the subject of today’s lecture i do want to begin by acknowledging that we farewell the very significant australian today I spoke of course of the funeral of the former prime minister malcolm fraser and i don’t think it’s important to mark those things when they happen I didn’t know mr Fraser well but he was generous with his time and advice when I sorted out from him and i’ll share with you the first time i met mr Fraser was a nuclear disarmament event in Melbourne of was initially felt very passionately about towards the end of his life and I hadn’t eaten before so the the end of these were first tranche of proceedings I kind of wondered at them and introduced myself instead I book I wonder if it might be time to make it might be possible to make a time to come and see you to ask your advice on a range of matters and obviously he’s much taller than I am and sort of look bad at new the slightly to the arch expression and them said in his characteristic nutrition voice and I won’t i won’t impersonators but she said I doubt you would follow the advice that I would a year well yeah well try me I don’t know if you meant to say try me to an ex prime minister but I’d even least he responded world I would invite the present occupants of the health of federal parliament out on to the Rainbow Warrior and He pours it’s here then I would sail the Rainbow Warrior out to sea he paused again and I would shove them off and I laughed and I said the last grain pieces in grain epic of non-violence me that we couldn’t force any elected representatives or anyone else for that matter had to walk the plank and he sort of twinkled that mean said well very well you’d better come and have a conversation with me then so that was at the start of a conversation where he was very generous with his advice and I think how much as we can celebrate the man to public service in the parliament regardless of one’s politics we should also celebrate the contribution he made post politics as a voice of the conscience of this country and times when we have needed that voice on the question of refugees on the question of national independence on the question of good governance on the question of climate change and i think he is an elder of our country who will be very greatly missed so the talk itself this afternoon draws on their side of God in the most recent Griffith review which is all about Western Australia to sort of on the other side of the confidence of those who don’t know it accord looking west actually the themes that are in there and I think are more broadly applicable and I tended to be intended to be more broadly applicable and I start that essay with a story of something that

happened in my family before I was born and my parents were migrants from Europe and they moved to a very unfashionable suburb and the outskirts of Perth was then unfashionable maybe especially called killed Scott in the just on the edge of the foothills and there was a ramshackle brick house with few acres and it ran down to a creek or stream that they dignified by referred to as the river and my father who was a refugee from Marxism fell in love with this river as soon as he saw it and it was a remarkable or course miss stations of one sort or another in their mollusks and fish bird life beautiful rich little local ecosystem and my father’s instant love of his flights deepened when he sort of couldn’t believe his eyes and the first time he went down here in broad daylight and there are these large crustaceans freshwater crayfish called melon sort of you know literally this long just crawling across the rocks in Bordeaux and of course Mariner absolutely delicious and so every so often this this chap had once been a sort of water in your old penniless refugee from the Nazis would fish out half a dozen of these animals and my family would have this sort of Imperial feast but I was never part of and I was never part of that because of something that happened before I was born now one day my father went down to mosey around by the creek and he would mosey around by there he come back sort of with his white string vest covered in mud which sort of stuck but in a kind of rich out of magic way it wasn’t a horrible smell Oreste I don’t remember it that way he apparently went down there and was confronted with the sight of a stranger somebody never seen before a man who pulled up on the opposite bank with a vehicle of some kind and was going in and out of the this little creek using a gobble and a snorkel where the palms with deep enough and he had some kind of speedometer elasticated or what was and was taking out the marin by the sackful was literally catching every marin he could find and he continued and went one way I went back the other way and after he gone it wouldn’t mean our lives that little creek was essentially fished out we would occasionally see the odd memory in the years after that in the years when I was born but when we saw them know far too precious to eat I never right I never shared Marion with my father it’s not normally this anymore died a couple of years ago because of this incident with this stranger who currently opposing bank now a debt happened before I was born but I drinked it I drink that a lot as a child you may have these recurring dreams you never actually sure how often you have them because it’s one of those dreams is it is recurring it sort of always really and in the dreams the stranger never has faced the sex are always for my father is weeping I cannot consoling in those dreams and that’s a dream that I’ve that is persistent since my youth and I suppose when I look at when I look at Marin and Western Australia I take some comfort from the fact that that that fishing out of that Creek wasn’t the end of that species there are still Mara around the place they’re still fished in fact heavily regulated me and fun and with some success in some places but we know that we know is if the local extinction is the local wiping out of creatures or reduction of creatures up and that’s the that’s the national story and that’s the global story species of plants and animals are becoming extinct at an increasing rate so the most recent global biodiversity outlook for example which is published under the auspices of the UN Convention on biodiversity concluded that natural systems that support economy is lives and livelihoods across the planet are at risk of rapid degradation and collapse unless there is swift radical and creative action to conserve and sustainably use and relative life on earth so the global story the global story is this one of reduction of the small local stories

adding up and this rate of ecological deterioration is an hour so pronounced that our guess is many in this audience will all be familiar that some scientists have begun referring to this period is one marking a holla scene or Anthropocene period of extinctions that can be compared to previous periods of dramatic species loss that we noted in the fossil record so relieved we live in changing times we live in challenging times I’m sure also that many in the audience will be familiar with a paper that was published in science in January this year that was written by professor will Steffen of the anu and about a team called co-authors my background is in the humanities but I have come to understand that multi authored scientific papers doesn’t actually mean that scientists just work with hard I I have then disabused effect misapprehension but in in that paper which really draws on the Stockholm resilience centers collaborative work on planetary boundaries and the paper is called planetary boundaries guiding human development on a change in planet what the authors try and do is they update earlier research that is designed to identify the physical biophysical i should say boundaries that are intrinsic to the operation of the earth as a system beyond these boundaries they argue there may be nonlinear changes in one or more of the subsystems that regulate the planet now the really sort of troubling thing about this piece of work is that according to look Stefan and the others four of these nine planetary boundaries have already been transgressed and two of these climate change and vice fear integrity or what they call call boundaries and what the paper argues is is that altering either of the conditions beyond these core boundaries will drive the system into a new state that’s rather antiseptic language so let me try some metaphors for you it’s liable to plunge us into the Badlands the Uncharted Seas are frightening back the here be dragons we just don’t know what on earth with biophysical conditions that are fundamentally different to that in which all human civilization conservative flourished we just don’t know what it might mean what might happen now change in biosphere integrity in particular is defined by Stefan and his team has many invited versity lost and species extinction and the authors do acknowledge that because of the nature of that of that system that it’s very difficult to establish with any kind of certainty where the planetary boundary might be and the evidence they say instead points to the decline of biodiversity is constituting what they call a slow variable so it lacks any clear planetary tipping point but rather there are multiple geographically can find tipping points that together may add up to global concerns I put another way the local losses add up and it makes me think back on the Marin the story of my parents creep but it also makes me think on the sort of stuff that people kind of tell me in the job that I have or I guess when someone finds out yet you work for Greenpeace they tended to want to talk about the natural world or in fact they tend to avoid subject altogether depending what have I feel about plans but but I think I reckon I guess I put to you that actually probably we’ve all had experiences a bit like the marin story all we’ve heard of other people’s stories that are a bit like that you know you know the sort of a moment when someone tells you about a great spot where they used to go that’s kind of fished out now or when someone says something like you know now I come to think of it I haven’t I haven’t seen a lot of those around here in a while yeah we used to see a lot of that bird or that animal and I haven’t seen one in a bit has to be so many of them haven’t seen one in ages now now you come to mention it first time I came to Queensland in this in this job there’s 2012 when I was always brought up to address your Queensland media club which is a terrific come a terrific institutionally all of the states you have their own their own press clubs and we just published a report called cooking the climate rigging the roof which was talking about next into which the coal industry threaten is a great barrier reef or subject that you may be unsurprised to learn a little bit more about a low

this afternoon for an envelope i spent a few days in in brisbane and it was the first time i’ve been up there working for great place i was really kind of just to chat so you know from from the sort of the first person I met in the first restaurant to the taxi driver that I had going somewhere to people who i was having meetings with i just wanted to know what people were thinking and what struck me was the number of people who can get more or less the same thing which is like sort of a side length forward slightly so there’s that certain almost almost ear of the confessional i sort of leant forward slightly and the voice would drop i’d say something like my wife’s not what was well they’d say it’s not like it used to be when i teach you what I’d say yeah I took my whole ones down to a little bit the reefer just thinking how much you’ve changed I kept hearing me so it got to the point almost where I’d sort of guy yeah this is the bit of a conversation where the person leans forward and tells me that they’re worried about the Great Barrier Reef I was I was shocked but I was genuinely shocked by it and I really want to stress these were not just just environmentalists I was talking to this but just people always meeting who would in their own lifetimes noticed or perceive to transformation and I guess what we know is that the scientific data is consistent with what I was hearing his anecdotes we not affect the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences 2012 study that around fifty percent of the coral color from the roof has gone since 1985 we know based on the australian government’s own strategic assessment for the roof that 24 out of the 41 metrics or attributes that collectively comprise the outstanding universal value of the Great Barrier Reef side note that’s a collection of language that takes all the poetry out of a place but anyway 24 out of 41 have deteriorated since 1991 the anecdotal evidence of fewer fish fuel birds less color risk all of the roof was not what it was made the anecdotal evidence is validated by the data that of course is extremely serious worrying news but I guess we can reflect that it is good news that the evidence has been compiled that we know what’s going on and on that that subject I want to pause for a moment just to acknowledge the work that is done the creative the diligent the back-breaking sometimes work that is done by researchers scientists mathematicians but across whole range of fields in keeping track of the natural world for us it is so crucial and I want to honor that work and acknowledge it and also acknowledge the solutions that come out of it um I had lunch with them Matthew dr. matthew dunn and bev and i’m not sure if that’s how you pronounce naxxar know so i hope i’ve got it right if he’s here that he can tell me if he’s not then obviously the life is quite annoying for ah well I mean so yesterday I mean in terms of cool things people do in the world I mean someone who can sail will catch up for a sandwich and i will show you a robot that i am building that can swim through the ocean and recognize crown-of-thorns starfish and poison them to deal with this threat to the roof now this is wonderful staff and I don’t know thanks for a great lunch happening else but you’ve got to honor this work of people who are not only diagnosing the problem but coming up with the solutions and you know good on here you to your first for having that community of scholars he’s doing work I am so grateful the researchers who are giving us that picture of what has happened to the world and your work should also be honored by our politicians your work provides us with the necessary evidentiary foundation on which our political leaders can make the changes we need and can spend the money that we need spent to solve the problem that’s the great thing about the research that you are collectively doing the community of scholars it should be a great story of scientific data thank you coming from non scientific disciplines

as well yes yes the social sciences and the humanities do produce data worth listening to as well I’m willing to say that my background is the humanities as I fessed up and it should be a good story of that data being listened to an inner being a proportionate and effective political and policy response that should be our story but unfortunately unfortunately we have a problem in a democracy unfortunately the crown of thorns is not the only pestilence that has fallen upon a great and vibrant system also often a clinical leaders ignore the evidence the evidence that should be providing a compelling foundation for reform is ignore what’s put to you that the health of our political system like the health of the Great Barrier Reef is in trouble and we know with our political system as well by both a matter of study and as a matter of bitter anecdote we know that the provision of data is proving to be insufficient in getting the political change that we need across a range of issues where there are very significant risks and opportunities that confront our community our society our economy it’s not all bad there have been times when the system governance has responded and let’s right the Montreal Protocol which did deliver a sublime in response to ozone depletion but largely the experience has been in the other direction and if we think about those two core boundaries i mentioned earlier in particular climate change and bias their integrity we have seen egregious folks on behalf of governments in australia and worldwide lavishly documented egregious famous quite slightly unnerving having a room from the people watching you drink water will this be the time i miss my mouth and poured down my shirt not on that occasion I remember 12 months or so ago reading a feature in the courier-mail it was about the Great Barrier Reef and when the journalist was covering that the brouhaha I contest over the future of the roof and the journalists in question concluded with an anecdote that I’d like to read to you in the anecdote was this a little girl watched by her father Fitz her mask and snorkel for her first glimpse of what lies beneath 15 feet she begins to swim her mask flat on the surface but almost immediately stops dad dad she yells her own face full of natural wonder you’ve got to see this you won’t believe what’s under there it’s really really she searches momentarily for the right word right and the journalist concludes the one thing everyone shares in this particular story is the hope that it always will be now that it’s very reassuring narrative that we all want something that we do or want the Great Barrier Reef so not only stay as great as it is now but to recover its former glory it’s a reassuring thought and it’s a reassuring thought that I think is fairly wrong able to put to you that I don’t believe that we all want the same thing or to elaborate further I think that the roles that we play with in institutional scratchings mean that whatever we may personally think even if it is true that we all want something we are precluded from apt in their way and ought to put you further but I think that it is the structure and political economy of our national society that means that we end up with outcomes in which nature which landscapes in which our common good in which the prospects of our children are sacrificed for short term yay and to make that point I want to go back to that little creek in western australia and the the event with the fellow with the sacks in the 1960s now i’m told her i was told that my father did actually rent a straight meeting on a night my dad was in a backward in coming forward in reading people knew what he thought and in good west australian fashion the stranger told my father I believe his words were kiss off and you know the stranger said

piss her off to my father because he was perfectly within his rights to be doing what he was doing and I think this is a really fundamental point the stranger had every legal right to do as he pleased in taking the marin out of that little creek he had the legal right to do it and he had a technological capacity that was what gave the faceless man the ability to denude the creek of its animals think about that let’s extrapolate out from now i think that maybe some version that does sort of go on in the wider world and I guess that’s that’s what I’m suggesting to you is an argument by extrapolation and it’s what I suggest doing that Griffith fair-sized but i think if we do extract light out curious how we don’t tend to use the language of agency of power when we contemplate the killing and destruction of plants and animals and ecosystems how language kind of becomes weirdly passive we don’t talk about power distribution or political structures we tend to sort of start referring to these things in a sort of weird way as kind of unfortunate byproducts accidental consequences of economic activity which are of course the main game and let’s just to illustrate the point I’m trying to make let’s take that seminal expression bio diversity was that’s a key concept in the literature and Stefan and history will Steffen his team use it when they explain what by severe integrity means they call it biodiversity loss and species extinction loss lots of us just such a curious phrase biodiversity loss but it suggests an accidental or consequential forfeiture you don’t you don’t intend to lose something do you remember the last time you deliberately lost your car keys I mean you just you don’t do that synonyms for loss miss lane this placement dropping for geeky overlooking how can I have misplaced the dundo what did i do in that christmas island fitness drill goodness me I thought I’d lost the Lord Howe Island stick insect top but it was behind that rock all along we simply don’t speak this way loss perhaps above all low implies and kind Neutrality there’s Mountain King Slayer we don’t mean to lose things again think of your car keys and I think I’d dwell on this because I think the term is so important because I think language matters and is constitutive and is expressive power relations and I think the expression biodiversity loss hides the truth let’s be honest we don’t lose biodiversity we can’t on most occasions when given the choice we as an economy as a polity do you prioritize the survival of life on Earth in nature a divide the diversity of life on a nature and one way or another we killers then we may not leap out of our cars and strangle animals it may not be anything like that but one way or another this is what happens this is what the conversion of the cases is really exercise of our power is doing to be more precise our legal and political structures and associated political economy guide our active choices towards the decision to kill off our biodiversity or to use the language of economists we expend the variety of life on Earth as an unaccounted externality that I think is the truth of what biodiversity loss means those who construct new coal mines and those who cut down the forests those who pump their pollution into the sky that are killing off biodiversity and changing the climate in the process and they are doing so because they have the right and a power to do so the authors of the CSIRO’s most recent report on biodiversity in Australia and there is a very nice lines very understated lines and report there’s one line towards the end which says every

asian on natural resource management is a choice every decision on natural resource management is a choice now on this point I do want to go back to our our friends in the community who are lean forward and troubling that starts the Great Barrier Reef let’s think about what choices are being made there four days ago the Australian in Queensland Government’s publicly released the reef 2050 long-term sustainability plan and according to Prime Minister Tony Abbott through the planet Australia is telling the international agencies that we are utterly committed as an entire nation to the protection of the Great Barrier Reef I wonder if it was a freudian slip that he used the expression telling the international agencies in other words this was a telling rather than a doing whether it was asleep or not I think what mr. Abbott is telling the world is rather different to the truth because bluntly the plan as it has been elaborated can’t save the reef in and of itself it’s not other plans entirely bad it’s just inadequate and it’s inadequate because it still allows for massive coal port expansion it doesn’t address the question of climate change it just sort of says we’ll back something it’ll happen somewhere else and it doesn’t address the cumulant cumulative impacts of development let’s let’s think about climate change in particular it’s well documented that it’s a single greatest long-term threat to the Great Barrier Reef it’s equally as well documented that coal is the single greatest source of carbon emissions worldwide and it’s all we also know very very well that Queensland’s coal reserves are among the largest in the world one of the largest carbon bonds still in the ground to use a phrase 2050 roof plan is effectively silent on all this we know that the current flash point is the Indian transnational company adani that proposes to build the world’s largest coal on the Great Barrier Reef cards devout it’s point in order to export coal from its proposed new mega mine at Carmichael in Queensland’s Galilee Basin we also know that if I Donnie is successful that may will be a gateway mind that will lead to further mining of the Galilee and further port infrastructure dealing with this threat is not mentioned by the reef of 2050 plan and the experts have been quick and again let us honor the contribution of researchers and experts and then quickly to point this out so I professor Terry Hughes of JC use in a horrific spurt for example to send this the government wants to have coal mines operate in 60 years time and still hopes to have a healthy reef the science says otherwise either we plan to adequately protect the reef and transition away from fossil fuels or we abandon the reef and develop the world’s largest thermal coal mines we can’t possibly do both we can’t possibly do both now some years ago another expert a lawyer this time rather than a scientist Chris McGrath from the University of Queensland right in a piece for crikey no one likes to say it out loud but we should publicly recognize that we are planning to destroy the Great Barrier Reef Chris McGrath words every decision on natural resource management is a choice by silence and its own missions on the coal industry and the community of development impacts and on climate change the reef 2015 plan is simply in a deferred and that would be troubling enough in and of itself but we need to see that plan I think as by-product an example of the broader problem and the broader problem is that our legal and litical structures and associated political economy have guided the active choices of the state and federal governments that have led to this sadly inadequate clan and plan sadly an eighth of a clown maybe a sad clam at the plan but that was a mystery we just don’t have the political structure ins and the political economy that we need to preserve the integrity of life on earth through safeguard our future prosperity now there are a number of crucial dynamics around this I’m sure it’s a conversation we should have a leak they were just two that I want to mention and

the first is there is absolutely no doubt that vested interests have too much influence over our political leaders and our political processes and here I just want to from moment dwell upon the politics of climate change that’s often represented as being fantastically complicated but a fellow by the name of Tom Burke who’s a London environmentalist but he’s done a range of things he’s worked for Rio Tinto’s where he’s done other things you know Tom lizotte oilers a bit of a wrap on eternity so set me down one day you know one of those sort of cafes or Cubs or a greasy spoon or somewhere in London and swimming with all make it too complicated you know I can’t be the voice but it’s a bit of gravel where and what tom says is this it’s all very simple on the one hand there are the climate makers and the climate makers are the fossil fuel companies first and foremost and the small number of others who are the small number of large businesses producing burn fossil littles that’s the climate makers on the other side is everyone else in Australia the arch climate like is the coal mining companies and bluntly I’ve just got too much influence on our political system so it’s a first dynamic the second dynamic odds mention is the problem of the structure of Business Corporations because business corporations are legally mandated to profit maximize for shareholders at the expense of other considerations this means they are pre-programmed to not worry about the unfortunate unfortunate consequences of their business activities and we hear all sorts of bizarre feeling said about corporations but they are immoral entities expecting a corporation to have a conscience is a bit like expecting a chair to fall in love with you they are they are amoral entities that that exists pursuant to statute and the statutes don’t wreck them to maximize profit for shareholders now the only really really clear about this this is not anti-business it’s not anti capitals if you look at milton friedman he will say much the same thing about the nature of the business corporation but if you want business to do something you actually have to regulate or it has to be in the business interest to do so that there are the only ways that business will actually in inverted commas do the right thing so a few years ago when one of those global consultancies did multi-country serve i have taught business executives about what would get them to do something about biodiversity loss caused by their business the top choice on what would spur them to action was increased regulation business in cells and missionaries of course in reality and practice business tirelessly campaigns against any regulation of environmental activity which they have delightfully named green tape just remember that every time you see a national park or a colorful parrot or a fish remember that there are some obvious that there who see that just think of green tummy what this means is that even the most committed and well-meaning individuals within corporate structures and there are many many of them it is not about that I constricted by the end of the institution by the amber of their business because of what is mandated in the legislation that governments corporations so extrapolating out from that that opening story of the creek and my parents backyard I put to you that it is the vested interests that are the Faceless Men of global biodiversity loss and climate change and that their plunder is every bit as replaces as that in that little creek in kiama Scott so I’m about to into the last bit of this this talk so I want to before I before I finish I just want to and it’s it’s a sort of it’s not quite the last year moments but I’m but we’re entering the home stretch and I just want to pause to restate my central argument at this point the central argument is that we have a problem in our democracy and the problem is that too often our political leaders are ignoring the evidence which should provide a compelling foundation for reform and that they’re ignoring it not because they’re thick or because they’re blind but because they are captive to a set of political and economic power relations which conduce to prevent action and of course it’s not only that they’re ignoring the problems but they’re also ignoring the solutions than one of the one of the frustrating things is that you see the genius that’s on display not just met but I’m talking about it is clearly one of them the genius that is on display coming up with

ways of sorting out some of these pickles so I was I was I heard a presentation from Anna skarbek from climate works in northern the other day she’s a very good communicator and a stunning presentation because they’re modeling tells us they’re sophisticated modeling it’s part of a global project that tells us we can decarbonize by 2050 if we trust in our genius and we trust in our technology and we look to the solutions that are there or that we can see I just just slightly over the horizon we’ll make it we’ve got this we know the problems we’ve got the solutions the blockages the blockages are the vested interest blockages are the power relations that is what is holding us back that my friends is a grand challenge for us and for our times so having set up what I think the problem is what’s the solution see if I scale it down the front of my share this part um and I am a clumsy person I was sharing with some new friends today that the only physical scar I’ve occasions so far in my ears also working for Greenpeace is when I fell off my chair next to my desk trying to put a piece of paper in the beam and I have a four-inch scar down my right leg as a consequence of scratching myself on the chair on the way down so drinking water research it’s a challenge from what is the solution to this grand challenge of the vested interests of the power relations that are holding back the genius of this country and the thirst that is there to manifest the solutions that we need for the common room what is the solution well I’m actually enormously enormously optimistic that we are already in the midst of the shifts that we need to see to achieve these solutions now again Anna skarbek if climate works likes to point out but from the depth of despair in the Great Depression to Neil Armstrong stepping out on the moon was 35 years which would be the same period of time between now and the decarbonisation of the Australian economy in 2050 by 2050 let’s me slightly more ambitious than there I am a great lover of an in the welfare state and also that because my parents were depression-era children and so I grew up not being able to ever put food in the bin I still find it difficult if you go out to dinner with me and we share Chinese or something around one of those moving tables by us feel anxious if there’s a smoky left on a plate at the end and I’ll have to kind of eat it because I i feel is inherited anxiety from my parents and a possibility that some food what government in let’s remember that from the depths of the Great Depression to the establishment of the welfare state in the united kingdom was less than 20 years we often imagine with terror the speed with which bad things can happen but let’s think instead with optimism of the occasions in history when we have managed massive transformations for the common good we have done it before and we can do it again and I believe we are seeing a new politics emerging rapidly emerging in this country which marks a decisive shift of power within Australian society I believe we are seeing the shift away from the vested interests of the fossil fuel companies having the run of the place to more evidence-based policy and to a greater preoccupation with our shared who our common good I believe the new politics is emerging that will cease achieve that rapid decarbonisation and I think we see that new politics in the grand alliance of Australian people that is coming together to challenge the fossil fuel companies and other vested interests I think we see that new politics emerging out of economic relations we see emerging out of a decentralization of the energy system that is happening despite the best intentions of the dirty power companies to prevent it I think we see it in the emergence of the new political forms and the new ways of tackling this problem I think we see it in the smiling confident faces of

groups like fossil free at QUT they give us away of your hair somewhere and fossil free uq I mean this is the politics this is the new politics that will deliver this country into a very different place we see in the Australian religious response to climate change we see it in the global divestment movement manifested with such energy in Australia we see it in the social movement that is lock the gate and if you haven’t seen fracking and yet please go out and see frack man what a film I think we see it in the refreshment if you like of organizations like Greenpeace I think we see it in a ground swell of the Australian people so how do we make sure of it how to make sure this new politics takes hold and flourishes well I’m going to make three suggestions and then I’ll wrap up and let’s have a chair and the first and this is absolutely essential scientists and researchers must keep up the noble work of speaking up of telling us what you are finding and of explaining carefully in your measured words when political pronouncements are failing to properly take account of the evidence that you are assembling and interpreting because only if this truth-telling continues will the case for change Ramon there as as Dan kahan has pointed out and people in science communications reports night has worked very well the quality of the science communication environment is so important to the health of our democracy and a crucial part of this new politics has to involve the enhancement of our science communication environment more funding for Cyril law independence for scientific institutions more basic science education more celebration of of what science communications means second I think we have to recognize we need I’ve spoken about the emergence of the new politics but we need more and more and more an increased public mobilization is vital because it is only it is only the power of organized people that can effectively take on the vested interest and a quick advertisement here please if you haven’t already to jump on the website and Greenpeace or get up or wherever it might be choose your preferred organization to support and get involved get involved i know there is some sheets you can sign up for hands up again fossil free hands up you can go and sign up Michael please get involved in the conversation because let me be playing about this I want to work with all of you on this I want I want us to be partners in in shifting shifting the future of the country towards the common good and we know we know we know the power never conceive anything without the struggle we have to look to the past we know that the suffragettes did not get votes women without a struggle we know that the anti-slavery movement only succeeded with a struggle we know whether it’s trying to stop wars or its decolonization or whatever it might be land rights that redressing injustice only comes from struggle and we must remember what we have achieved in the past in this country it is only it is only because of the power and determination of the Australian people that the Great Barrier Reef was not wrecked by oil drilling in the 1980s it is only because of the power and determination of the Australian please the daintree rainforest and it is only because of the power and determination of the Australian people what the Franklin dam was not built and the power and determination of the Australian people unneeded once again and then I guess takes me to the third of what I see is that the key things here which is that our objectives must be about shifting power rather than simply participating in existing processes we won’t succeed if our efforts are concentrated in getting lots of machining on time or being part of this consultation or going to that round table it’s not that these things are bad but they are in sufficient we have to change the rules of the game because the rules of the game are stacked to the benefit of vested interests and this stuff is not as hard as it might necessarily appear by band donations by

property developers in New South Wales for the good of the New South Wales party and goodness me that has made a difference well why not ban donations from coal companies or mining companies in Queensland is there a single person around who can credibly say that it would not be a good thing for Queensland’s democracy if mining companies were not allowed to give money to politicians so the argument that I’ve put to you this afternoon is that the phenomenon of ecological decline is upon us and that it’s a phenomenon that is best understood as a product of the functioning of power we know the problems we know the solutions but what’s getting in our way is a set of power relations that prevents progress and I think something else is possible a different kind of politics politics in which good science and vibrant democracy are mutually supportive last time I went to that creaking Gong strikes is still there what there is house isn’t anymore it was demolished for a highway years ago it’s another story but the creek still there and I went we found a bit of it runs through a park and I’m bed down close to I put my hand email pulled out some of the month my spell demand and I was one of those pristine moments to export it back to being child I looked around I couldn’t see any animals in the water well I could see as it is an animal but I could see your mollusk you know there are some some River clams that live there mo asks muscles I’m actually not sure what they are but always being there and I sort of not sure whether I should or not but I pulled one out and I held it in my hand and my put it back and I think to myself maybe maybe that’s all there is living in that Creek now maybe that’s all there is now but the creek is still there and what is in that Creek in the future is open what in all the creeks are the world in the future is I come to us and what sort of reef is there in the future is open to us and what swims in the ocean and what kind of trees grow what lives in them is open bills and I guess I back us to get it right I think the new politics is upon us and I think we will prevail thank you you you