Sus­tain­abil­ity speaker ad­dresses gath­er­ing

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

US ECON­O­MIST and ad­vo­cate for sus­tain­able devel­op­ment Bob Massi dropped by Cafe One 3 on Sun­day morn­ing to give a talk on the global tran­si­tion away from fos­sil fu­els and to­wards re­new­able en­er­gies.

More than 40 peo­ple were there to hear him speak about the econ­omy, the in­flu­ence of money on pol­i­tics and dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to tran­si­tion­ing to­wards re­new­able en­ergy. Ear­lier in the morn­ing, Mr Massi had met with Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil Mayor Jen­nifer Whit­ney.

Mr Massi said he be­lieved that peo­ple had fallen into the trap of think­ing that the present was here to stay.

“One of the fea­tures of the US in its early days was that ev­ery­one was fo­cussed on the fu­ture,” he said.

“If you read the lit­er­a­ture of the 18th and 19th cen­tury in the US, it is en­tirely about how we’re go­ing to change and strengthen and grow in the fu­ture.

“And now, many lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties have lost that abil­ity and that’s sur­pris­ing and it’s un­der­min­ing our abil­ity to ad­dress the prob­lems of to­day and to­mor­row.”

Speak­ing about his ex­pe­ri­ence back home, Mr Massi said the US had a se­ri­ous prob­lem with the cor­rup­tion of pol­i­tics by peo­ple who are ben­e­fit­ing mas­sively from the sta­tus quo. “There are bil­lion­aires who like ev­ery­thing the way it is and are will­ing to de­fend that with hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars,” he said.

“And I gather that in Australia there’s a sim­i­lar prob­lem with very pow­er­ful peo­ple from the coal in­dus­try.

“They have a very large and dis­turb­ing im­pact on pol­icy mak­ing. (Whether they are or not) is a ques­tion Aus­tralians have to de­cide for them­selves. But the en­ergy cri­sis, the cli­mate cri­sis, jobs cri­sis, they’re all part of a fail­ure of democ­racy to step for­ward and re­spond to th­ese chal­lenges.

Mr Massi said there were three ap­proaches to gen­er­at­ing change in so­ci­ety; top­down change led by the gov­ern­ment, bot­tom-up or­gan­i­sa­tion from cit­i­zen groups and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, and pres­sure from the sides from in­sti­tu­tions like uni­ver­si­ties and think tanks.

How­ever, above all he em­pha­sised the power of in­di­vid­u­als who get in­volved in the po­lit­i­cal process.

“If you want a politi­cian to lead, you form a pa­rade and they will find their way to the front,” he said.

VI­SION: Bob Massi speaks out­side Cafe One 3 on Sun­day morn­ing.

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