Adapting to climate change is the new challenge

The Fifth Estate- sustainable property news

By Tina Perinotto

There are some battles you prefer not to win. Like when the sceptics roll over. It’s as if you secretly hoped they were right. Such is the case with Westfield’s appointment six months ago of its first sustainability manager. (See jobs and people) But not just any sustainability manger: Corin Millais is a former Greenpeace operative, and so there is the strong message that the shopping centre giant wants more that a public relations coup out of the exercise.  This is the same company that in 2007 told this reporter, that in terms of  sustainability, Westfield would “comply with what the law requires us to do”.

But while the corporates one by one invest in their sustainability angle it seems the sceptics are on the rise.

Last major volley was from Paul Sheehan’s piece in the Sydney Morning Herald recently where he lauded the work of Professor Ian Plimer and his new book Heaven and Earth, where the message is that the thousands of scientists meeting at Copenhagen warning on climate change are wrong. And that his is the voice of reason.

This is despite Plimer quoted as saying that to understand climate well you need “astronomy, solar physics, geology, geochronology, geochemistry, sedimentology, tectonics, palaeontology, palaeoecology, glaciology, climatology, meteorology, oceanography, ecology, archaeology and history.”

Yet Plimer himself claims to be only a geologist, albeit Australia’s “most eminent”, according to Sheehan.

The climate sceptics, as they are called, are gaining traction with the public.

Climate campaign insiders say that intensive focus groups they conduct find respondents are worried about climate change but then add that they’ve seen some scientist on the tele say that maybe all the warnings are wrong, or that humans cannot affect the outcome.

Read Guy Pearce’s fascinating expose of the coal industry, Quarry Vision, in Quarterly Essay Issue 33 to understand how sophisticated and powerful is the “do nothing” lobby.

At the national level, the federal government is trying to convince everyone that a minimalist carbon trading system will actually have some impact on climate change. Behind the scenes adapting to rising sea levels and wild weather is the name of the game.

The Federal Government is ramping up adaptation, funding loads of work by local councils, academics and groups with industry participation to get ready for the coming environmental storm.

See our story on Sydney’s coastal councils and their intense work on climate change impacts, as a start of our coverage in this area.

Issue Number 2
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