As I write this, we are still in the grips of a severe storm. I can’t recall experiencing such winds – strong enough to break concrete power poles! Of course one weather event is not proof of climate change, but the evidence is lining up.
The severe winds that have created damage in Northland (from the Nullschool website)
There are many people in Northland concerned about the sustainability of our environment, communities and economy. These people work individually, or in small informal groups or larger groups to mitigate negative impacts, envisage a better future and work toward it.
These individuals and groups are loosely networked and work in a context of dominant orthodox social and economic structures. Central and local government and their agencies, commercial interests (often controlled out of region, or offshore) and the entertainment and news media, create a discursive context dominated by an economic agenda that marginalises sustainability. The focus on economic growth creates what Paul Gilding calls a “fog of denial” that entrenches orthodoxy. As the status quo is embedded in policy, and economic structures, society’s collective resources contribute toward maintaining this worldview.
The “voice” of the many Northlanders who aspire to a more sustainable community remains muted. Their response ranges from resignation, to survivalism (insulating them and their families from anticipated cataclysm) or dogged determination. They do not have the resources of orthodoxy to realise their aspirations.
How can their voice be heard? Subsequent posts will explore the need for structures or systems to connect the diverse people aspiring to a more sustainable Northland as a conduit for a clearer and louder collective voice. While economic growth, as manifest today, is not sustainable, if we can combine our collective intelligence, we can surely redesign economic systems that deliver prosperity, social justice and protect, or even enhance to environment. And we may be able to do it in time to avert some of bleakest scenarios of climate change and social disruption.
What do you think?