My nightmare

I woke this morning from a nightmare. I dreamt that I was to be given one of two injections. The second, in two weeks, would result in my death. I wanted to know what I would be able to do in the remaining two weeks. Would I still be able to think clearly? Would I be able to communicate with others? Could I get out of having the first injection for a bit longer? I awoke to ponder the situation, but I wasn’t sleepy at all.

In my dream I had been under surveillance for months. I accidently mentioned the name of the Prime Minister in a Facebook status. I had been promoting the idea of a popular, completely non-violent movement that would irreversibly change the face of national and international politics. Somebody in politics realised the potential of what I was proposing.

I had proposed that there be a movement in which people got together to think and talk about the kind of future that they wanted. This would be an informed movement based on use and understanding of the best information available. It was to be based on mutual respect and minds open to different views. There was to be no demonization or marginalisation of any group of people. It would make use of modern monetary theory that showed that current views of macro-economics had completely failed to explain reality and left the way open to a revolution in government spending that saw social inclusion that removed the boundaries between the rich and the poor. This would see the end of political parties as we know them with their narrow views and closed minds. It would see the end of misrepresentation of the facts.

What is the worst part of this nightmare? It was not the response by government. In my dream they were afraid because they would not be able to send in the jet fighters. It was not the lack of freedoms introduced by the government under the pretence of preventing terror; after all, they had caused the terror by increasing the status to high alert levels. It was not even the loss of freedom to talk about the alternatives to the ruling political party or dictatorship with all of its associated oppression.

The worst part of my dream was that nobody took me seriously. When I started a new blog, https://closingwindow.wordpress.com/, on 20 April 2014, I warned about the closing window of opportunity to create a better future. There were some followers of people wanting to get others to follow their blogs. But there were no comments. Not one! Nobody made a statement that my ideas had potential or suggested improvements to the approach.

The people who were aware the things needed to change were all locked into their campaigns, petitions and lobbying of politicians. The government loves it when this happens. They keep their opponents busy and all they have to do is yield to the post popular petitions and they are so encouraged that they continue. All they are doing is a bit of fine turning that removes the edge to political opposition. Buy yielding to their most popular petitions, the government was able to render their critics powerless to remove them.

The worst part of my nightmare is that the people who could make a difference could not see that they were part of the mechanism to keep the new government in power.

Where is the line between my nightmare and reality? You tell me.

What responsible government would look like

I want to give the current government the benefit of doubt and to illustrate what I think we should expect from a responsible government.

Let’s assume, for a moment at least, that there is some kind of budget crisis and that there is some justification for seeking to reduce the deficit and perhaps run the country in a surplus in a sustained manner.

If these measures were taken by a responsible government to respond to a real need then there should be detailed and considered documentation.  This might be on government websites or on that of the governing political parties.  There would be more than just evidence that they have considered the matters.  There would be scholarly articles written by experts.  There would have been a public consultation process that collected and considered the views of people affected by any policy or action by government.

To be specific about the current proposed federal budget, the government would have a comprehensive review of Modern Economic Theory which opposes austerity measures.  It should be unacceptable to a government to have a group of economists claiming that a government is irresponsible without all of their objects being refuted comprehensively.  They should welcome criticism as an opportunity to explain their actions and educate the community affected by their actions.

On the issue of continued use of fossil fuels, there should be detailed documentation to demonstrate that not only have all of the risks been considered, but there is good reason to continue with current practice of mining coal and going on to exploit unconventional gas (that is, coal seam gas).  This would demonstrate that we don’t need to be concerned about climate change, pollution, disposal of ash, destruction of large areas of land, quality of groundwater, acidification of the oceans, melting of the ice caps, sea level rise and the consequences to human populations of displacement and reduction in productivity due to more unstable weather conditions.

I cannot conceive of how continued reliance on fossil fuels can be justified.  Responsible government in the current situation would consider a matter of utmost urgency and importance to find other sources of energy and to restructure the economy so that we are not reliant on coal, gas and hydrocarbon resources.  It would build a strong scientific base to the economy.  It would declare a state of emergency and involve the community in recreating the country in line with the current situation.

Responsible government would never say that they know what they should do but cannot get the community to agree. They would involve those involved in a process in which they have access to the relevant information and can see a detailed consideration of all of the factors involved.

When a member of the voting public writes a letter expressing a concern, the Member of Parliament receiving it would not only provide an answer, but refer the voter to a comprehensive discussion of the issue.

To me it is inconceivable in responsible government for a member of parliament to tell lies.  Not enough said, but I will leave it at that for now.

It is also inconceivable for members of a responsible government to taunt opponents.  Their aim would be to include the whole community in decision making.  Every statement by opponents would be an opportunity to patiently direct them to the facts that are documented, or to set about to obtain the facts and to involve the community in finding the best and most appropriate solutions.

Without politics

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It is worth think about a world in which reason and information rule, rather than politics.

I have heard people complaining that their experience with some office, organisation or committee was spoilt by politics. It is worth thinking about what this means; I think of situations in which generally one person divides a group and manipulates outcomes to achieve some goal that is not necessarily for the benefit of the whole. People are not happy with the process and are not able to do anything about it.

When politics has interfered it generally means that there has been misinformation and ill-considered outcomes. The facts are not obtained, people are not consulted and advice given is overlooked in making inferior outcomes. This seems to be a summary of how governments run.

I have been in situations in which committees have worked. I have had the privilege of being an administrator involved with committees at universities representing the whole of the institution. I have also been part of volunteer organisations and their management committees. It is great to work together with others toward common goals.

In a well-functioning group there are no factions and no politics. A university could not run with a governing group and an opposition. This would not be a way to achieve sensible outcomes.

Yet somehow we expect to have a country run by politicians that divide the community and have specific agendas of their own.

I don’t regard this situation as being satisfactory at all. At least in Australia, as in the United Kingdom, there is the stability of the government departments staying the same when a new group of politicians comes to power. This is, of course, unless the politicians interfere and dismantle the departments providing sensible advice and not replacing them.

Vision for the future

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With the information available and the means of communication it is conceivable for us as the people of the world to create a future of our own choosing.  We do not need to be limited by those who are currently in power due to their personal wealth or political standing.

I believe that we need to start thinking about the kind of process that we want to make address the current urgent issues that the world faces so that the world is as good or a better place for our descendants to live.  I would argue that there is currently no capacity of the present alliance of business interests, politicians and media to address these issues with the mechanisms available.

What I envisage is a growing movement of individuals who come to an agreement that we should have a better world for future generations and who develop a vision for addressing the major issues of the world based on the best information and understanding of the issues involved.  We live in an extremely complicated world with competing influences and interactions.  However, really obvious issues are being overlooked currently.

There should be no illusions that this process would achieve results that are advantageous or convenient for everyone.  Many industries are contrary to the principle of a sustainable future and should be terminated as soon as possible.  Coal miners, for example, could need to be redeployed elsewhere in order to reduce the risk of climate change and pollution.  Part of addressing issues would be to consider those adversely affected by any changes.

We need to examine our assumptions.  We have been trained to think that economic growth is a central for the well-being of society, but we could need to consider the aim of a steady state economy so that we are not placing an increasing demand on natural resources.  We need to understand risks in a proportionate manner.  The risk of pest invasion destroying both agricultural and natural environments needs to be understood and to be central in decision making.  The risks of chemicals, radiation, climate change and pollution need to be considered, as well as the risks of conflict as the world faces diminishing resources.  An integrated approach is needed in which biodiversity is seen as part of the solution rather than being in conflict with agricultural needs if failure of ecosystems is to be avoided.

There is no point in only people who agree with each other reinforcing each other.  There must be an interaction of people with different perspectives.  These need to understand each other and be prepared to expose their own views to the scrutiny of others.

For those who enter this kind of interaction, there can be no room for blaming another or for belittling another.  Humour does have a place in communication and in getting things in perspective.  Often humour is stating the obvious in a different way.  However, there is no place for targeting individuals or groups so that they are marginalised and disregarded.  We should forget about terms such as left or right wing, conservative or socialist.  We need to focus on understanding the issues.

It is difficult to envisage how the process could work.  Perhaps it could come about by people of one persuasion seeking an explanation from those with a different perspective.

Once this process is underway, those who will not and cannot defend their views will start to stand out.  We could create a culture in which it is considered unsatisfactory to have a view is not defended.  I hope that people will be keen for the opportunity to defend their views.

In the world of the future there has to be some kind of free market and democratic process.  Free markets are necessary for people to have the motivation to be productive.  However, people should not be free to cause harm to others.  Legislative controls that are properly polices are necessary in a world in which human values are often driven by selfish concerns.

I find a better democracy hard to define.  I expect to find that others have thought this through more that I have.  In many committees it is hard to find people who want to lead.  Leaders become self-appointed.  People tolerate them because they do not want to do it themselves.  Members of political parties represent the party involved, rather than the views of the electorate.  It is rare to find a candidate that has the same range of views.  I think it is more important for people to have their interests given due consideration.  The interests of the largest number may not be the best for the whole.

To get things started, I am prepared to express some controversial opinions.  This is an invitation to present a case to disagree.  Some may choose to avoid me altogether, but I hope all of my views are open to evaluation if they are not properly considered.  Comments are welcome.

Some views for scrutiny

There is no excuse for any further expansion of the coal industry.  There will be a demand for continued use of coal, but only until alternative sources of energy are brought into production.  Any further planning for coal needs to have an exit strategy planned about replacing the industry as soon as possible.

Proponents of solar energy need to consider the environmental impacts of dedicating large areas of natural habitat for collection of energy.  They need to publicly state the cost in terms of the density of plant and animals present in the proposed areas.

Any further destruction of native vegetation should only be allowed in exceptional circumstances.  If we cannot manage with the areas of land cleared currently, then the world will be a worse place in the future if further destruction occurs.  In most cases, the offset required to replace a natural habitat would be prohibitive.

Opponents to nuclear energy due to fear of radiation need to face the reality that humanity has always survived with natural radiation.  The risks of radiation need to be considered in proportion to the risks posed by other energy sources.

Opponents to the deployment of fast breeder reactors should acknowledge that these have the potential to dispose of nuclear arms stockpiles.  The waste can be managed in a safe manner.

The introduction of weeds for the production of biofuels cannot be justified in terms of the risk posed to future generations.

Being wealthy should not give any individual the right to make the world a worse place for future generations.  There need to be systems in place to ensure that wealth does not compromise the legal and judicial systems that should control this.  It should not be possible for people to build on environmentally sensitive coastlines or on ridge-tops that require destruction of native habitat to make them safe from wild fires.

Saying that smaller government is better is only to promote lawlessness; a small government would have no police force.  Everyone is left at the mercy of the strongest and most powerful, much as the world is currently.

Community engagement

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The last two days will have a large influence on my thinking about community engagement. I attended the 4th South Australian Weed Conference. I was impressed the way people worked together using science and best practice community consultation processes to find the best solutions to a range of weed problems. At the same time I was impressed with the size of the growing gap between these practitioners and mainstream public knowledge, politics and what the media covers.

The first keynote speaker told us about being interviewed by the media, but the situation was not as disastrous as journalist had expected and nothing was published. The interview would have been valuable to put things into perspective, but the saleability of story was the deciding factor, not the information that the relevant community needed to know.

One speaker told us about the status of controlling Buffel Grass in this state. This weed has been described as the Cane Toad of the plant world; it is destroying habitats and it is difficult to see how it can be controlled. Some areas have already been written off as for only limited protecting of assets. Queensland and Northern Territory governments are still seeking to promote more weedy varieties that are more drought resistant, faster growing and reproducing more readily. They are seeking to promote the worst weeds possible. Great work is being done by a small dedicated team monitoring hundreds of kilometres of roadsides and controlling infestations. A local cattle grower was horrified by what they were doing!

We were privileged to have Tim Low, author of Feral Future, speak to us. He told us about a weed on the banks of a reservoir near the upper reaches of the Murray Darling system. This weed has the potential to be spread throughout the whole system with the next major flood event and would never be controlled if this happened. The best plan was simply to lower the water level for two months so that the weed could be eradicated. Residents along the edge of the water body objected to having their view spoilt for this long and the plan was abandoned. It seems that they will not be held accountable for the cost of their maintaining their scenery to the rest of the country.

Another told us about trials to control Gazania, a colourful daisy that takes over in coastline areas and their sand dunes. Owners of expensive houses along these coasts were upset that the pretty flowers were being sprayed out. The owners were only present for a small proportion of the year and were almost impossible to contact and consult. Some did not even have a letter box. They were having success replacing the weeds with native vegetation and stabilising sand dunes that were being used by some sort of board riders.

A pioneer of restoration of an urban degraded watercourse told of the wonderful success he and his team of volunteers had achieved in replacing a very weedy area with native plants. Many of these were natural regeneration. The site is popular the public to walk along and many were concerned that this team was somehow destroying the environment. So they learnt to leave the Arum Lilies and other weeds on one side of the watercourse to reduce the opposition from the locals. The area of new work looks great with lush growth of native plants. Many, however, prefer the weeds.

Finally the conference was finished with a keynote address by popular identity, Professor Chris Daniels. He did not speak about weeds, but about citizen science. He told us about connecting people with nature and with science. He was not too concerned about the 3% who thought that the only good possum was a dead possum. There were different attitudes, feelings and behaviours from people in relation to wildlife. Negatives and positives could both be used to engage people in discussion resulting in education. He said we need to bring the community along to understand how science works and that we need to build trust between scientists and the community.

When we had the opportunity to ask questions I said about the contrast we had presented over the previous two days between good science and a largely uniformed public. I did not get to phrase my question and Chris took my point and elaborated. He said about our stories being important. Stories make our message personal.

The lesson I learn from this is that even the most negative people are part of the community that we need to engage. We are all in this together. I want more informed government, decision making and setting of priorities. Yet I don’t even want to offend people by saying that I think that they are uninformed.

Business plan for a nation

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Every nation needs a coherent business plan that meets the immediate, medium and long-term needs of its community and the environment that sustains this community.

The current business plan for our nation, and apparently many other nations, seems to be based on short-term gain from exploitation of remaining natural resources within a framework of economic and population growth.

Frankly, I can’t explain how anyone can see these to be compatible or coherent.  This duel approach seems to be a recipe for disaster; if we have an economy dependent on depleting resources and growth, it seems obvious to me, a larger population than we have now will not have adequate resources.  The future population will at some stage need to work out how to manage without the resources that it has depended on.

I believe that now is the time to determine how to manage, not when the world and national population is even larger and resources are even in shorter supply.

We should have a policy that there should be no further exploitation of natural resources without plan for phasing out reliance on the resource.  No further destruction of natural habitat should be approved, whether in our nation or the forests of undeveloped nations.  Their prosperity is our responsibility if we are to keep what is left.  The demand for gold and palm oil in the developed world, for example, are driving the destruction of tropical forests in undeveloped countries.

Much of the world is currently dependent on coal and hydrocarbons.  These resources could be extremely useful for the world in future centuries, but we are just burning them.  This is causing climate change, acidification of the oceans and pollution from smog, spills and other contamination.  The world needs to plan to replace these energy sources as quickly as possible.  Renewable and nuclear energy need to be considered as a matter of extreme urgency and utmost importance.

There should be no more exploitation of areas of natural habitat.  It is foolish to continue to build suburbs on prime food producing land.  As a global community, we cannot use our best land for keeping horses.  The community needs to be engaged to see that there are shared problems.

In contradistinction, the current Australian government seems to have a business plan to encourage as much mining and exploitation of hydrocarbon resources as possible.  Exploring for resources is extremely expensive and there much of the effort is unsuccessful in establishing new resources.  It is understandable that the government wants to create a stable situation in order to encourage investment.  This would explain the rhetoric about there being too many national parks and even opening up those that do exist to exploration.

The second prong to the current Australian governments business plan is to encourage economic and population growth.  Immigration is seen as the means to address the issues of an aging population, as though immigrants did not get older themselves and compound the problem.  This is policy driven by addiction rather than reason.

As stated above, I can’t explain how anyone can see these to be compatible or coherent to have a business plan based on short-term gain from exploitation of remaining natural resources within a framework of economic and population growth.

Depending on a perceived economic befit of this model, the aim is to depend on other countries to produce our goods at lower prices.  Our manufacturing industries are sacrificed in this model, but the short-term prosperity of obtaining consumable items is seen as worthwhile, at least for politicians seeking re-election on a three to four year cycle.

Our government needs to be called on to explain and justify its approach.  If they cannot explain, they should re-evaluate and make major adjustments.  If they cannot adjust, it needs to be replaced as soon as possible.

Beyond campaigning

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Good governance should be based on an appropriate system of setting priorities.  It should not be based on the ideologies of the political party of the day or limited to the most effective political campaigns.

Many of the people that I know are involved in running campaigns for the causes that they consider are important.  This is a matter of strategy.  With limited resources, people choose campaigns that they think have some chance of success.  They are targeted to get the attention of the public.  Iconic species are chosen.  Emotions are stirred.  Catching campaign names are promoted.

While there have been successes in this approach, such as saving the Franklin River in Tasmania, the drivers remain that cause the problems in the first place.  A few campaigns may be successful, but the decline in the condition of the planet continues.

To some degree governments are relying on special interest groups to set some of the priorities.  If they yield on some of the campaigns they can achieve some level of public appeasement without having a proper process to determine priorities themselves.  It is a bit like letting the market set the priorities.

Good governance, in my view, would start by recognising the most important issues and establish principles for addressing these and setting appropriate priorities.

The most important issues would include the following:

  • Over-population
  • Carbon emission and climate change
  • Degradation of the environment
  • Rapid declines in biodiversity due to continued loss of natural habitat
  • Food, water and energy security and distribution across the globe
  • Conflict between cultures and religious groups
  • Inequity between nations and within them

There should also be agreement on the guiding principles for addressing these issues.  These would include:

  • Achieving long-term solutions, such as for 50 years and beyond
  • The needs of minority groups are to be met
  • Planning requires gathering and analysis of appropriate information
  • The whole community involved in decisions needs to be consulted
  • All options are to be considered without prejudice
  • All negotiations need to be made with mutual respect and without provocation

What I am trying to envisage is a system of governance that starts with these.  Currently we have a system based on the immediate concerns of an electorate that is ignoring the broader issues.  The role of governments should be to inform and educate the community of the broadest issues and to involve them in developing the solutions.

Climate change and science

In this post I want to take a step back and try to look at the scientific validity of climate change science.  It is important to determine whether the predictions are overstated and alarmist or whether they are alarming as a warning of what appears likely to happen.

To answer this question, we need to first look at the nature of science.  Personally I have not seen a definition of science that I find satisfactory, so I will attempt a description.  Others may disagree and they are more than welcome to make a different case.

A view of science

In my view, science is a way of looking at the physical realm based on a consistent theoretical framework.  Typically science is built on the core disciplines of physics, chemistry and mathematics.  Science includes a body of observations made and expressed within the terms of the theoretical framework.  It includes a body of published and, to a limited extent, unpublished information.  It includes collections, such as plant specimens in herbaria and fossil specimens in collections across the world.  It also includes photographic images.

With science being theoretical it can never be regarded as true.  Ironically, this is the strength of science and makes it reliable.  There is no place for authority given to individuals.  There are no expert witnesses within the scientific literature.  Every case must stand on its own merits, irrespective of the person presenting it.  (For clarity I would point out that this is apparently not necessarily the case in the public media and in politics, but I refer to the way scientists deal with each other.)

It is also important to consider the validity of consensus.  Some place a value on this, with the figure of 97% of scientists being in some sort of agreement.  In science, however, consensus is not a measure of any value.  Each case must stand on its own merits.  A scientist does not bow to the opinions of others; I am not aware of any case in which a scientist has written in a scientific paper that that something is beyond question because a certain person or group asserts it to be the case.  Even classification systems are open to question and review.

While there is no place for consensus, there is no place for marginalisation.  It is completely out of character to classify certain views as pseudo-science, for example.  If an argument is flawed, it is simply a matter of refuting the case.

Obviously not all science is reliable because scientist themselves disagree on many things.  Scientists are fallible human beings with limited knowledge.  Each has their own bias on particular issues.  Some science is hard to defend and is disregarded, but there are cases in which rejected views are adopted by others later.

From this perspective of science we can evaluate the validity of the science of climate change.  My understanding is that is it built on all of the disciplines that are relevant.  It takes into account such things as the thermodynamics of the gases in the atmosphere, the behaviour of the sun, history, geology.  This is what I would expect for anyone wanting to determine the drivers of climate change and their likely consequences.  It should make mathematical calculations to quantify the effect of the complete range of variables.  Using advanced computer models is the best way to provide a comprehensive consideration of all of the known variables.  From this perspective, the approach used by climate science is entirely appropriate.

I feel I need to say something about so-called scientific method.  The classical approach taught in schools is about objective data collection to test an hypothesis.  Nevertheless, life is not that simple.  In the real world it is almost impossible to isolate individual cause and effect behaviour.  It is possible to approach this in some controlled laboratory conditions and the disciplines of physics and chemistry rely on this approach.  In the real world beyond the laboratory there are inter-related variables.  Mathematics and statistics play an important part in processing the data.

In the end, science is often about quantifying certainly and uncertainty.  It is common to talk about 95% confidence levels, for example.  It is possible to quantify the significance of a relationship between causes and effects by finding controls.  This seems to have become the substance of modern scientific method.

Alarming of merely alarmist?

So, going back to the issue I raised at the beginning of this post.  This could be rephrased, “How can we determine if predictions of climate change are alarming or merely alarmist?”  I will attempt to answer this by considering two hypothetical situations.

The Merely Alarmist Scenario

Let us consider the possibility that climate science has severely overstated the likely risks.  In this scenario we could imagine that there is a systematic bias in the whole of the community.  Perhaps there is some unstated cause for pessimism.  There could be a bias in the peer review process that prevents dissenting views, as is commonly alleged.  There could equally be a bias in the provision of funding for research that achieves pre-conceived outcomes, as is also alleged.

This scenario could seem feasible except for the huge vested interest of the fossil fuel and other industries in maintaining the current dependence on hydrocarbon resources for the world’s energy needs.  There is a huge financial incentive to fund research that shows that the risks are overstated.  There is plenty of scope for independently funded research that could recognise faults in the theory or the data being collected.

It is claimed that those questioning the significance of anthropogenic (resulting from human activity) climate change are silenced or ignored.  However, I find this claim completely incredible in the context of the Internet and the vested interests involved; politicians and the media would exploit to the full potential any perceived weakness in the popular view of the science and attempt to do so currently.

If it were the case that climate science was merely being alarmist and overstating the risks, this would be easy to demonstrate.  It should be possible to document a basic flaw or flaws in the theoretical framework or systematic misrepresentation of observational data.  These are what I have sought as I have looked at the case made against significant effect of anthropogenic climate change over recent years.

In particular, I would expect there to be alternative computer models that correct the presumed errors that are commonly used.  These models would be hard to refute once they were generated.

The Alarming Scenario

Now let us consider the other extreme in which common concerns about anthropogenic climate change are actually a realistic assessment of the situation.

In this situation I would expect opposition from vested interest groups.  I would expect the opponents to present only exceptional data that supports a particular view without consideration of all of the data in the broader perspective.  I would expect their literature to be full of rants about freedom of expression and questioning the processes of peer review and allocation of grant funding.

In this scenario it should be possible to conduct studies of the behaviour of climate scientists and to understand the reasons for their bias.  For a group with 97% affirming agreement there would be plenty of potential for this sort of study.  I am not aware of any such study.

Most significantly, however, I would expect to see no flaws exposed in the theoretical approach and no evidence of systematic misrepresentation of observational data.  I would also expect there to be no computer models that provide a credible alternative projection of all of the data.

Responding to the science

My view is that the second scenario matches the current situation and the former does not.  Some may think that I have misrepresented the situation and they are more than welcome to point out their reasons for this conclusion.

I conclude that we are left in a situation in which the predictions of anthropogenic climate change are alarming.  There is still the possibility that all of the factors have not been considered.  However, this is the best that we have currently.  There is no known basis for concluding that the risks can be ignored.  It is time to respond rapidly and to reduce carbon emissions as fast as is humanly possible.

I would add that there are also many other benefits from a move away from hydrocarbons, so it is worth doing regardless of the threat of climate change.  There is air pollution, the pH of the oceans, loss of natural habitat, biodiversity and agricultural land from coal mining, the threat to the Great Barrier Reef, environmental disasters of oil spills as well as danger to workers involved in mining underground.

A Way Forward

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Welcome to the first post on Closing Windows.

The purpose of this blog is to try to make the most of the closing window of opportunity to address the issues such as climate change and the environment crisis that we have recently entered.  It is born out of a reluctant conclusion that the current political system is incapable of addressing the most important and urgent issues facing our planet in time to address the urgency of the situation.

The window may also be closing due to the opposition of certain government and big business interests that have a conflict of interest in relation to the environment.  There are concerning signs that our current freedom of expression may be under threat.

The purpose of this blog is to go beyond politics to explore the possibilities for a better and much more effective decision-making process that addresses the most important issues in a way that engages the whole community that is affected.

Politics often seems to be about manipulating people to achieve a particular outcome.  Good governance, in my view, it is about identifying and addressing the most important issues and finding the best solution for all involved.

So, in this ClosingWindow blog I hope to develop some thoughts on what the ideal form of governance would be for the nations of the world.  I want to explore the concept of science and its reliability.  I want to speculate regarding the future possibilities for an internet-based approach to informed decision making.  I want to formulate a set of guiding principles for community engagement.

My assessment is that there is an infinitesimal chance that catastrophes of global proportions can be averted.  The possibility that this blog being successful will play a significant part in changing this seems equally remote based on what I have seen that people respond to on social media.

Nevertheless, there could be nothing more worthwhile than averting impending global catastrophe.  It is worth trying.  Indeed, there is no point on giving up on this planet, because there is no alternative back-up option.  The future of humanity and the rest of the biosphere are at stake.

I am interested in what you think.  Is change necessary?  If so, what is needed to produce this change?  Will the current mechanisms suffice?  Is this blog a good idea, or is it just futile?  What suggestions do you have for the best way forward?

Please subscribe to this blog and engage in the conversation.