By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Man-Made World: Choosing between Progress and Planet
By Andrew Charlton (Quarterly Essays/Black Inc., $19.95, softcover, 134 pages)
Two global challenges – poverty and the environment – are the twin imperatives of the 21st century.
Andrew Charlton, a former senior advisor to Kevin Rudd, points out that “One ravages billions of people alive today; the other threatens billions yet unborn”.
In an innovative essay, Charlton who was Australia’s senior official at the Copenhagen climate conference, discusses the rift that shapes our future: progress versus planet, rich versus poor.
He elaborates on the truth in the saying that the “world is split between those who want to save the planet and those who want to save themselves”,
In recent decades, environmentalists have argued with mounting force that the growth of human activity on our planet is unsustainable. Environmentalists claim that we are on a collision course with destiny, but these warnings, dire as they may be, are not the only challenges we face.
This is a solemn assessment of the effort needed to seriously address climate change, population predictions, food shortages and security issues.
We now need new solutions to climate change and other environmental challenges that work for rich and poor alike.
There’s a stalemate in both cases and a desperate need for “new frameworks that reconcile progress and planet by harnessing technological means to achieve green ends”.
Quarterly Essay #44 points out that there is no choice between progress and planet. If we focus on one, we will destroy both. The only way out of our predicament is to reconcile economic development and environmental sustainability.
Charlton’s essay relies on the hard evidence of facts and figures and puts forward some convincing arguments.
“Progress has its price. Each step of human advancement has left a footprint on the planet. Today our two defining challenges are managing climate change and eliminating global poverty.”
Australia needs to adopt a flexible policy.
Edition 298, 31 January 2012
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.