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Sustainability speaker addresses gathering

By Mark Beale

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; top-down 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.

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